When you’re different from others, life poses all kinds of little problems. Like, how your boyfriend reacts when you die and recover back to life within one weekend? Roona is a teenage girl, who has powers others don’t. She’s a shaman, who can travel to other worlds and her power animals, a bear and a hawk, help her. The setting of the book is the everyday realistic Finland, but when Roona travels to the ancient worlds of the Northern gods, it’s pure fantasy in the Finnish style.
Author: Mervi Heikkilä
Publisher: Haamu 2017
Category: Magical Realism/Fantasy MG
Original language: Finnish
On the Gates of the North is the second part in the series and it doesn’t explain a lot. I haven’t read the first part, but it didn’t matter much. It was easy to slid into Roona’s world. It helps to know the Finnish mythology, because the story builds on it. The book is relatively short and fast to read and it really takes you aboard.
However, there’s not much happening. The two main plotlines regard the quest of saving the power animal of Roona’s mother and Roona’s relationship with her boyfriend Aleksi and what comes of that. As an afterthought of a speedy reading spur, both seem to fall flat.
This is very much a MG book considering story building. Still, I would have wished the author to pay a little bit more attention to characters, their motivations and foreshadowing. Even if the target group is MG and the hope is obviously to catch the attention of those not normally inclined to reading, this is a bit too simplistic.
What I absolutely loved is the use of the Finnish mythology in the story. The combination of realism and mythical elements gives infinite possibilities for the author. I’m looking forward to see how she’ll continue the story.