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Review: Not Before Sundown

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I decided to give Not Before Sundown another try a couple of days ago. I previously read it in Finnish and in English. This time I read it in English. When I read this book for the first time, I didn't like it very much, because it felt like I had read better stories. Now that I read it again, I must admit that it has gradually grown on me and I've begun to like it. I guess that this is one of those books that must be read with time and patience to fully appreciate its charm. The story is original and it's clearly meant to be read by adults, who want to think about things. This is not an easy fantasy book and it must not be read in haste - it must be read with enough time or you won't like it. I must say that I'm glad that I decided to give this book another try and didn't let my earlier opinions affect me. I read it with an open mind and without prejudices. This time it opened to me in a whole new way and it felt like there was depth to the story. Not Before Sundown is an interesting book and it can be recommended to fantasy fans, who want to read something different and want to be challenged by what they have read. I recommend this book especially to adult readers, because this book contains many elements, which can only be appreciated by adults.
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The original novel was published in 2000.

Published in the US as Troll: a Love Story. Several translations to other languages.

Finlandia prize 2000, Kuvastaja prize (Best Finnish Fantasy book) 2001, The James Tiptree Jr. Award, 2004.

Mikhael, a young, gay commercial photographer, finds in the courtyard of his high-rise apartment block a small, man-like creature. It is a troll, a beast familiar to us from Scandinavian mythology where, through the ages, it has been used to frighten children. The troll is a demonic wild beast, a hybrid like the werewolf. Today it is used as a hairy, cuddly toy by Nordic children.

Mikhael gives the troll a name, Pessi, and takes him home. The first thing Mikhael does is research everything that has been written about trolls from the internet, from folklore tales, studies of nature science and various newspaper cuttings. Palomita, the Filipino woman from downstairs, helps Mikhael understand that Pessi is like a child that must be fed and nurtured.

What the reader learns is that trolls exude pheromones that smell like a Calvin Klein aftershave, and causes all the novel's characters to fall in love with one another — one-sidedly and cross-wise. Mikhael falls in love with Martes, the head of an advertising agency. Doctor Spiderman and Ecke in turn fall in love with Mikhael because of the scent. What Mikhael fails to learn, with tragic consequences, is that Pessi the troll is the interpreter of man's darkest, most forbidden feelings.