I received a copy of this novel for review purposes. When I first heard “Finnish Fantasy,” I was excited because I’ve been on a sort of Norse kick lately. I dropped the non-fiction book I was currently reading and dove right into Fargoer.
For a translated book, I was pleasantly surprised how well almost everything was translated. Often, there are passages and idioms that get lost a bit in translation, and there were a few places where I initially scratched my head, but upon a second reading, I realized that my confusion came more from my reading speed than any problems with the translation. If I didn’t know the novel was translated from Finnish, I would not have assumed it was a translation.
The story is written almost as a collection of slice-of-life vignettes from the point of view of a woman of the Kainu tribe, Vierra. She’s strong and stubborn to a fault, protective of the ones she loves. It starts as an almost textbook “Hero’s Journey” story, but goes off those rails fairly quickly, and that’s a good thing. There’s nothing wrong with the heroic journey, but it’s been done. Unfortunately, Vierra is the only character we really get to know very well. We’re often introduced to characters important to Vierra and don’t get to see her relationship grow with them before they’re taken out of the story. This lack of development for the secondary and tertiary characters made it hard to feel anything for Vierra’s many hardships, even though I did feel sorry for her that she had to endure so much. I wanted to see more of her relationship with her cousin. I wanted to learn more about the Kainu people. Some of these problems probably could’ve been alleviated with a longer narrative.
Despite the story feeling rushed, I did enjoy it. I had sympathy for the main character and wanted to see her succeed. I am only tangentially familiar with Finnish myth and folklore, so I don’t know how much of what I read was based in that, and how much was the author’s original creation. I knew of Meilikki and the Great Hunt, Loviatar, & Illmater, the latter two of which are NOT in this story, but that’s about it. I was intrigued by this world and would like to read more novels set there.