Troll: A Love Story, by Johanna Sinisalo

trollMikael (aka Angel) has just broken up with his boyfriend to date a new guy, but the new guy, conflicted about his sexuality, rejects him the night they go out. Mikael returns home, drunk and dejected, to find a baby troll outside his apartment building. He takes the troll in and begins to care for it as if it was a pet, and an unusual relationship develops between them.

This was one of the most bizarre stories I’ve read in a very, very long time. It takes place in a world nearly identical to ours, with the big exception that trolls actually do exist. They are wild animals, but very intelligent as well, and much like the legends you hear of our elusive fairy creatures such as Bigfoot or the Chupacabra, humans rarely get a glimpse of them. But accepting the fact that in this world, there are trolls, the rest of the story is also really, really bizarre.

There are many elements to it. There is Mikael’s downstairs neighbor, a mail-order Filipino bride with an abusive husband. There’s Mikael’s odd relationships with three different men. And then there’s Mikael’s relationship with the troll itself, who is eventually named Pessi. The relationship starts as something almost parent-child in nature, but grows into something more…bestial…after a time. The whole book is punctuated every few chapters with excerpts from books (both real and fictional, I believe, though I can’t be sure) all about trolls.

I can’t say I particularly enjoyed this book. The concept was interesting and I was hooked right away. Then the book got a little too weird for me, and yet, I just had to keep reading. I was fascinated and sort of scornful all at the same time. Near the climax, it took a really interesting turn, but then fell apart at the end again. I don’t know. It was definitely a very different experience and I don’t regret reading it, but I’m not sure I fully understood the point. I read a couple reviews that said the trolls represented the more animal, instinctual part of a human being, and I guess I can see that, but I didn’t feel like all the disparate elements came together into a cohesive whole enough for me to get anything out of the book. Maybe some of it was lost in translation. I don’t know. In the end, I think it just wasn’t for me.

About Amanda

Agender empty-nester filling my time with cats, books, fitness, and photography. She/they.
This entry was posted in 2011, Adult, Prose and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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