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Troll: A Love Story Paperback – February 19, 2004

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press; 1ST edition (February 19, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802141293
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802141293
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.4 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #780,074 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A young Finnish photographer makes a pet of an orphaned troll in this strange, sexually charged contemporary folk tale, a hit in Europe. Mikael, nicknamed Angel for his stunning blonde good looks, finds the troll behind some dustbins after a night of drinking, and feels compelled to bring it home ("It's the most beautiful thing I've ever seen... I know straight away that I want it"). The troll is small and black, thoroughly wild but also oddly human, with an overpowering, arousing juniper-berry smell. Obsessed by his new companion, whom he names Pessi, Angel sets out to learn everything he can about trolls, which in the novel's world are a real but extremely rare species. Much of the book is composed of excerpts from reference works and novels, the most valuable of which is a rare volume by Gustaf Eurén, called The Wild Beasts of Finland. This book is supplied by Ecke, Angel's nerdy, fervid suitor; Angel also coerces help from a veterinarian ex-boyfriend; an advertising art director who buys his photographs and rejects his advances; and an abused Filipino mail-order bride who lives downstairs. Sinisalo's elastic prose is at once lyrical and matter-of-fact, but this is not a comfortable novel. The troll brings out Angel's animal instincts, representing all the seduction and violence of the natural world. As the troll becomes ever more unmanageable, the sense of doom grows; the ferocious ending is thoroughly unsettling.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Bookmarks Magazine

Troll won the Finlandia Prize for the best novel published in Finland, and has garnered worldwide attention. Sinisalo draws upon Finnish folklore to create a sharp modern novel that explores the wild beast that lurks in each of us. The Washington Post reminds us, “[T]he runty dark creatures of our fairy tales are little more, symbolically speaking, than surrogates for our own darker urges.” Though Pessi is the only truly feral creature, Angel and his friends all reveal their baser natures as well. While the main drama surrounds Angel and Pessi, a host of engaging characters populates the novel, including a Filipino mail-order bride. Sinisalo takes the stuff of fantasies and twists it into a sophisticated parable for the 21st century.

Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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See all 27 customer reviews
The ending is more than a little unsettling and stayed with me long after I read it.
Words like "myth", "legend", and "fairy tale" keep springing to mind, but these must be tempered by the very modern setting and situations described in the story.
Jason Fisher
These narratives have an urgency and realness about them that lends the story its lifelike feel.
B. Berthold

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By H. F. Corbin TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 15, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
By definition, a troll is a supernatural creature from Scandinavian folklore that lives in caves or in mountains. It is stumpy, mishapen, and can be as big as a giant or a small as a dwarf. It has been known to abduct children. Trolls have made appearances in such literary works as BEOWULF, LORD OF THE RINGS and HARRY POTTER. With that in mind, you should be prepared for the unexpected in this novel by the Finnish author Johanna Sinisalo. You will not be disappointed. This writer has crafted a bizarre but strangely moving love story between Mikael, nicknamed Angel, a young Finnish photographer, and a troll whom he rescues from a pack of hoodlums one midnight as the young man staggers home from a night of drinking and unrequited lust for one Martes, who says he is only looking for "good conversation." Angel takes the troll in, nurses him back to health and starts down a path from which there is no return. With each passing day, Angel finds himself becoming more hopelessly attached to the troll with the juniper-berry smell-- whom he names Pessi-- and having to hide his new housemate from his friends and neighbors. As you would expect, a novel about a love affair between a man and a troll will not have a happy ending. Even so, I was not quite ready for the explosive finale.
Ms. Sinisalo's prose is both concise and evocative: "I look him [Martes] in the eyes. His face wears a friendly, open, and understanding smile. He seems at once infinitely lovable and completely unknown. His eyes are computer icons, expressionless diagrams, with infinite wonders behind them, but only for the elect, those able to log on." The author raises questions about man's relationship with wild creatures-- how much we know or don't know about them and what they know about us.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Steve R. on March 28, 2005
Format: Paperback
Johanna Sinisalo's 'Troll' can hardly be left for comparison to the fables of Tolkein or the dark fairy tales of Grimm. Instead, it is a shrewd take on Jungian psychology disguised as a mythological love story.

In 'Troll,' Sinisalo peels back the societal labels of 'relationships' and dives into the darkest parts of our psyche. Through many relationships which at first seem as far apart as possible - between a mail order bride and her neighbor, between an attractive gay man and the men he needs, between a troll and his caretaker - the author looks at what drives our attractions and desires, what raises sexuality and hunger in ourselves, and what about 'love' compels us to rise above convention and risk our physical and emotional well-being for another.

'Troll' is written in simple, clear language, but beneath the surfce reveals a complex and universal question about attractions - fatal or otherwise.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful By A. Ross HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 1, 2004
Format: Paperback
This strange, captivating novel, winner of Finland's top prize for fiction, is set in a familiar world just slightly askew from our own. The basic premise is quite simple, in the book, trolls are real creatures found primarily in northern reaches of Scandinavia and Russia, and are treated as a rare species of animal. They were definitively "discovered" in 1907, but have since remained elusive to science, and little is known about them. Although they tend to keep far away from human settlements, the book opens in a city (presumably Helsinki) with a good-looking young gay photographer (Mikael) coming across a sick young troll late a night. Stumbling home drunk and depressed from a failed night of wooing, Mikael's judgment is poor and he brings the creature into his apartment.

Rising the next day, he finds it wasn't all a hallucination, and starts trying to nurse the ill young creature back to health. Of course, the notion of keeping a troll as a pet is unthinkable (not to mention illegal), and so he must conceal his new housemate at all costs. The problem is that he doesn't know anything about trolls. Fortunately, through the power of the internet, he is able to call up all manner of fables, scientific journal articles, poems, and bits of information about them. These wholly believable extracts are interspersed throughout the book with chapters headed with the name of the person from whose perspective it's written. In addition to the photographer, narrator's include his unrequited love/creative partner (Martes), a former love and nebbish bookworm (Ecke), and a Filipino mail-order bride who lives in captivity in an apartment one floor down (Palomita).
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Pasiphae on September 4, 2006
Format: Paperback
This is a completely unique story full of folklore, manufactured scientific research on trolls, and homoerotic man-beast love. There's a larger metaphor at work, equating the secret life of trolls with other disenfranchised subcultures. The troll is not the only kept pet in this story.

Yes, it was creepy, frightening, violent and disturbing.

And I pretty much loved it.
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14 of 19 people found the following review helpful By H. J. Spivack VINE VOICE on May 20, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Troll is both more and less than you might think, reading the 'reviews' here on Amazon.
The novel is about a photographer adopting a wild troll. In his world, trolls were discovered to be real in 1907 although encounters with them are so extremely rare that there is very little real cataloguing of habits, eating, mating, etc. Much of the book has excepts from poetry, stories, fables and well-faked scientific treatises.
The story happens in between these excepts.
The story itself is fascinating. Angel is a believable protagonist and, his gayness aside, completely sympathetic. He could be me, were I gay. If I met the troll Pessi, I'd have adopted him too.
It is quite short. I finished it in 3 days of commuting to work and I'm having some trouble getting it out of my mind. If you are looking for an odd love story, this is a good one. If you are looking for straightforward narrative or action, it may not. Sinisalo reminds me of Joyce Carol Oates in her depiction of horror in everyday life and the likability of her characters. If you are an Oates fan, you will like this very much.
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