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Not Before Sundown [Paperback]

Johanna Sinisalo
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
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Book Description

4 May 2010
Translated from the Finnish by Herbert Lomas, this is an international fantasy best-seller (published in America as Troll) and winner of the Finlandia Prize. Mikael, a young gay photographer, finds in the courtyard of his apartment block a small, man-like creature. It is a young troll, known from Scandinavian mythology as a demonic wild beast, a hybrid like the werewolf. Supposedly extinct, today it is regarded as a hairy, cuddly toy by Nordic children. Mikael gives the troll a name, Pessi, and takes him home and hides him. The first thing Mikael does is research everything he can about trolls from the internet, from folklore, nature journals and newspaper cuttings. What Mikael does not discover is that trolls exude pheromones that smell like a Calvin Klein aftershave and that this has a profound aphrodisiac effect on all those around him. Shooting an assignment for an ultra-hip brand of jeans, Mikael finds himself fast-tracked into a dangerous liaison with Martes, the sexually ambivalent art director of the advertising agency concerned, while a couple of his friends in turn fall in love with him because he carries the troll's scent. What Mikael fails above all to learn, with tragic consequences, is that Pessi the troll is the interpreter of man's darkest, most forbidden impulses.

Product details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Peter Owen; 2nd Edition edition (4 May 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0720613507
  • ISBN-13: 978-0720613506
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 541,583 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


A sharp, resonant, prickly book that exists on the slipstream of SF, fantasy, horror and gay fiction. --Neil Gaiman

A punk version of The Hobbit. --USA Today

Chillingly seductive.' --Independent, Best Reads of 2003

About the Author

JOHANNA SINISALO was born in Finnish Lapland in 1958. Not Before Sundown, her acclaimed first novel, has been translated into eight languages and is the first Finnish fiction to be published in this country for six years. Also known in Finland for her television and comic-strip writing, Johanna has, in addition to the Finlandia Award, won the Atorox Prize for best Finnish science fiction or fantasy story six times and has been the winner of the Kemi National Comic Strip Contest three times.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a.k.a. Troll: A Love Story 15 July 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Last year my local reading group read The Year of the Hare and this book was advertised on the back pages. At the time I thought that this would probably be quirky and something a little bit different. This book has already become a cult classic in its home country of Finland and has been enjoyed by many others throughout the world.

I should warn you that the print in this book is quite small and some may have trouble reading it, especially as it has fictional excerts from books and newspapers, which is even smaller still. If you are put off because it has gay characters in it then don't be, there is nothing really rude here. The story is a modern day fairy tale, where Mikael a.k.a. Angel finds a troll cub in the yard of his apartment block. Taking it indoors with him as it looks ill, Angel tries to find out all he can about how to look after this mythical beast. Told through different characters we come to find out more about Angel and his friends, including the poor Filipino mail order bride in the flat below his. Like Dracula, we don't actually get to hear Pessi's (the troll) point of view, which adds to the story the feeling of his isolation.

This is a satire in some ways on how we live and the problems that we face with encroachment of wild beasts in urban areas. For example I have never seen a fox in the countryside, but I am plagued with them in London. Taking in science with biology, evolution and enviromental issues, this also looks at anthropolgy, consumerism and the role that advertising plays, alienation and nature. Filled with humour, from slapstick to black comedy there is more than enough to keep the most jaded reader interested.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
This is a delightful short novel. Whilst a fantasy, it has a strong thread of realism which allowed the fantasy to work for me. The troll is part of Finnish folklore and the book is interspersed with various literary and reported references to the troll. The tale is narrated by the cast of main characters apart from the mole. This worked well as it offered contrasting opinions of events relayed. Pessi's(troll) character like Paasilanni's hare developed well as the story unfolded and was delightfully eccentric and loving to Mikhael, the gay photographer, who domesticates him. There are some very funny and moving moments as well as suspense for this book to be very easy to read. One amusing effect Pessi has is to emit pheromones which gives Mikhael an aphrodisiac like smell. There are several gay characters in the book but the gay aspect is very much secondary to both the interelationship between Mikhael and Pessi and Finnish folklore.
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By sally tarbox TOP 500 REVIEWER
When gay Mikael rescues a young troll from a gang of drunken yobs, he at once states:
'It's the most beautiful thing I've ever seen.
I know straight away that I want it.'
In Sinisalo's novel, trolls are a rare but scientifically accepted species, and the very short chapters, narrated by different people who feature in the story (but not Pessi, the 'tamed' troll) are interspersed with literary and non-fiction references to the creatures.
The situation of Pessi, kept penned up in a Helsinki flat by a stronger creature, is parallelled by Mikael's neighbour, a young Filipino mail-order bride, living a hellish existence with her brute of a husband. She too gets sucked in to the troll story...
A very unusual and intriguing read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Engrossing read 26 Jun 2012
By susurro
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Read this book after 'Year of the hare' . Enjoyed it more. Description of the maturing troll endeared, notwithstanding it being a savage creature. web of relationships and connections of city life, novel ended too soon.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing 20 Jan 2011
By Benjamin TOP 500 REVIEWER
This book was originally published under the title Troll:

Accepting the premise that trolls really do exist, although they are rarely sighted, and little is known for sure about them, Johanna Sinisalo has created a beautiful love story, as the title suggests. The story is set in Finland one winter through to the spring.
Mikael, a successful freelance photographer affectionately and descriptively known as Angel, for he is very handsome with his head of fair hair, rescues an abandoned and frightened young troll from the attack of a group of loutish drunken teenagers. With no other options, for as we all know an abandoned troll cannot be re-united with its parents; Angel takes the young troll home to care for it. He then embarks on a course of investigation and discovery as he secretly tries to raise the troll, which he names Pessi. At the same time Angel tries to juggle his relationships with his gay lovers: Dr Spiderman, a vet; Martes who is also his business partner and Ecke who absolutely adores the gorgeous Angel. While Dr Spiderman provides some advice, Angel's only other support comes from Palomita, the Filipino bride of the abusive brute who lives in the apartment below him.

The story is told progressively by the various participants, but predominately Angel, and the narration is regularly interspersed with facts, information, and myths and tales, poetry and literature about trolls, sourced from various publications and the internet.

It is truly a lovely story, the relationship that develops between Angel and Pessi is most heart warming as the young troll becomes submissive towards and fiercely and jealously protective of his newfound master.
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