- Paperback: 416 pages
- Publisher: Pushkin Press; Translation edition (September 18, 2018)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1782273379
- ISBN-13: 978-1782273370
- Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 1 x 7.7 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 6 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #896,497 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Secret Passages in a Hillside Town Paperback – September 18, 2018
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"Finnish novelist Jääskeläinen deftly channels the tropes of the big screen – from saturated colors and chiaroscuro to stolen lines and melodramatic scenes, he stages the glittering affair doomed by the secrets of that fateful summer, the mystery of Karri’s disappearance, and the truth about what happened in the secret tunnels. A beguiling, unexpected blend of whimsical romance and suspenseful noir." — Kirkus Reviews
"This mysterious, idiosyncratic tale exerts an unexpected pull... more than a little cinematic." - Mail on Sunday
"Reality, fantasy worlds, and references to the Famous Five blend into one intoxicating vision... Beautiful, absorbing, and chilling literature." - Helsingin Sanomat
"The kind of novel that surprises you with its strangeness long after you think that every possible imaginative alley has been explored." - Kannesta kanteen
"Delightful, magical, inventive." -- The National (UAE)
'Gloriously strange, witty and disturbing... A tremendous, haunting book, full of bitter pain and starry-eyed wonder.' - SFX (5 star 'SFX Loves' lead review for December)
"Randomly funny, ultimately quite dark, very very clever Secret Passages in a Hillside Town is a literary delight, a hidden gem and comes highly recommended from me." - Liz Loves Books (blog)
"Strange and beguiling, luring its readers in with quirkiness and charm... highly compelling." - Glasgow Herald
"I really like this book... Another gem from Pushkin Press, this could be a Man Booker..." -- Winston's Dad (blog)
'Praise for The Rabbit Back Literature Society: 'Unexpected, thrilling and absurd' Sunday Telegraph; 'Unnerving, enigmatic' FT; 'Witty' Observer; 'You'll love it' Harper's Bazaar; 'Thrilling' Shortlist
About the Author
Pasi Ilmari J&aauml;&aauml;skel&aauml;inen, born in 1966, is one of Finland's best-kept secrets. A novelist and short-story writer, he is well known for his fantasy and sci-fi narratives and has twice won the Kuvastaja Fantasy Prize given by Finland's Tolkien Society and four times won the Atorox Award for Fantasy. He teaches Finnish language and literature and is the father of three sons.
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Up to now, you might think that Secret Passages is just another novel about an unhappy man trapped in an unhappy relationship looking to rekindle a long-extinguished romance. You would be wrong. This is, after all, a book of magical realism, where abovementioned passages appear in unlikely places and lead to unpredictable destinations, with unforeseeable results. The events that happen to Olli and Greta in the course of the story are rooted in a long-buried secret from their shared past whose actual enormity is skilfully and purposefully unveiled to the reader chapter by chapter, like a bud blossoming in slow motion. In the end, the novel presents two alternative courses of action, but can there be a happy ending in either one? I’m not going to tell you, because Secret Passage in a Hillside Town is a book you need to read for yourself to experience its beauty and tragedy fully.
Besides being an engaging read, this novel is also a wonderful example of an excellent translation, work that in my opinion isn’t really appreciated enough. In this case, translation credits go to Lola M. Rogers.
Secret Passages in a Hillside Town is published by Pushkin Press. I received a copy via Netgalley in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own.
There were many points at which I wanted to set this book down for good. At first I thought it might be the translation that was lacking, but I'm fairly sure it's just a very odd novel. Part narrative, part dream sequence, and part guidebook, <i>Secret Passages in a Hillside Town</i> is certainly a journey. I couldn't wrap my mind around what was happening for much of the work, which I believe to be the intention of the author. In part, this work is a study in memory and how memory fails us, which I found somewhat compelling. However, when all is said and done, I was highly frustrated by the scattered narrative even at its end.
The fantasy element of the novel involves secret passages and M-particles, or meaningfulness particles, as explained in passages from <i>A Guide to the Cinematic Life</i> by Greta Kara which are scattered throughout the book. I can't really tell you how they work, as the mechanisms are not explained to my satisfaction--or at all, really--in the novel.
Greta Kara, the author of the book which takes center stage within <i>Secret Passages in a Hillside Town</i>, is a mystery for much of the novel. To expound on her character would invite spoilers, but I'd like to note that from my perspective her character is contrived in a highly sexist manner. She is literally described as being "created for" the protagonist to love. Also--and this may just be me--the author has got to be obsessed with boobs. How many times can the protagonist mention nipples? I am a woman--and attracted to women, even--and I have never considered boobs as much as the protagonist Olli does. Calm down, sir.
I am so glad I'm finished with this book. It's over. I can live my life in peace now.
That is setting number one but setting number two is quite different and a lot darker. It’s the secret tunnels under the town where they live in Finland. Something happened one night under these tunnels and the truth of that is only starting to come out now.
The writing has a very particular style to it- as if someone is narrating the characters on stage and even controlling them and the sentences are sharp and short and have a child’s simplicity to them which helps form the overall feeling of a old film playing out with watercolour, flickering characters and snowy settings.
It all gets a bit weird towards the end when the secrets come tumbling out and I wanted to shake some sense into Olli. This is a man who loves publishing though so I couldn’t stay confused at him for long.
Overall, a good read with a definite style of its own.
Overall this was a crazy read. Yes the twist was painfully obvious but the story was intriguing. A bit dated now though because Facebook is no longer a new thing.
I do wonder if some of the narrative was lost in translation. Since I can't read Finnish I will never know.
Many thanks to Pushkin Press and Netgalley for the ARC