Today, 6th December 2017, it is the 100th Anniversary of Finland. To celebrate the Independence Day, I present a recently published Finnish fantasy novel I especially enjoyed reading. Fantasy as a genre is still somewhat underrepresented in Finland and definitely not as appreciated as some other kinds of fiction.
Katri Alatalo’s The City of Snakes / Käärmeiden kaupunki is inspired by the Tales of the Thousand and One Nights, and is filled with twists, scrupulous relationship tangles and current problems flavoured with magic.
In a tunnel under the desert are three huge snake eggs. Hot tempered Arry destroys the eggs while Sulwaen is helplessly watching by. Princess Ninette of Kharras-Dim, who governs snakes, can’t forget the betrayal and a deep rift cuts their friendship.
The three meet again, when their hometown Kharras-Dim is attacked and the town’s people are made slaves of the new rulers. Arry, Sulwaen and Ninette have to do all they can to survive and to free their people from slavery. But can these childhood friends trust in their own powers – let alone each other?
This novel is a very interesting new installment in the Finnish fantasy genre. Alatalo has created a quite unique world in the desert with its own religions and own societies. The main characters are perhaps a bit shallow in this first part, but hopefully we’ll see them grow in the following novels.
The most alluring element for me was the major part snakes play in this story. It is quite rare in literature and even more so, as they are presented as the soulmates of the main character. Yet, the snakes have also their darker sides. Here comes also a warning – this novel is not for those uncomfortable with the idea of reading about snakes. They are unavoidable in this book.
The three main characters, Ninette, Sulwaen and Arry, all have their own special, more or less, magical abilities. Katri Alatalo has created her magic well and avoids the worst clichés of the genre.
This novel and its sequels will definitely go to my Bookworm’s Wishlist.