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Troll: A Love Story

Troll: A Love Story - Johanna Sinisalo I was very taken with the idea of a fantasy book written by a Finnish author and steeped into Nordic folklore. This story is different from my usual reads (epic/low fantasy) and the worldbuilding is particular, consisting in several explanations, poems or details about trolls and other topics related to the story or the characters reactions to the events, all looking like book extracts. As a literary device to provide background and to further blend the elements of the novel, alongside my interest in them, it succeeded.

The first person POVs were also nice and the plot, well, the absurd situations the unmoored characters found themselves in quickly felt kind of okay. To a degree at least, because in a nutshell what happens is: guy finds troll, he keeps it as a pet and becomes obsessed. The protagonist’s and the other characters’ lives change dramatically, one way or another, because of the presence of this mythical being.

It’s hard to identify in any of the characters (thankfully), they all sport peculiar obsessions which factor into the story and the only one who got my sympathy is the guinea pig; I had the impression that I was not supposed to care for any of them, either, as a consequence of a deliberate choice from the author's part, stressed by the compulsive changes of viewpoints and the total lack of character development. The rhythm is slow and the chapters are usually very short, switching back and forth many times during a conversation between the interlocutors.

The book gets pretty disturbing halfway through, but a kind of explanation arrives later. It’s a very peculiar work, which deals with a lot of controversial issues (racism, homosexuality, objectification, bride-buying, promiscuity, fixations, a mix of pedophilia and bestiality, brutality....) thrown around like peanuts and often with no purpose that I could discern. I don't judge the depiction but I can’t shake off this feeling of pointlessness. The world is ugly and unfair and selfish, human nature sucks, urban policies will kill us all and people are either slaves of themselves or of someone else; bottom line?
I am not sure I liked this book because of all the creepy themes, the flat characters, the vague plot, the so-and-so ending and the narrative flaws, but despite all of this I've read it in a single sitting and that always counts for something.

Our city’s unique, but with a slightly different nuance for each of us. In a little town like this, we don’t have our own streets, shops or galleries, but we do have our individual hidden topography, our own street corners.