the Little Red Reviewer

Archive for the ‘Leena Krohn’ Category

So,  here’s the first of my “reading diary” blog posts.


I’m nearly half way through Ship of Magic, by Robin Hobb.  If you’ve never read her, she’s awesome.  This trilogy is probably a good starting point for someone new to her work, as it’s sort of a stand alone series. A number of years ago I remember maybe Hobb talking about her own work, or someone else talking about her work, and they said she imagines the worse possible thing that could happen to her main character, and then she does it. and then does it over and over to that person.  And yep, that’s about what usually happens in Hobb books.   She’s a damn genius writer, so she gets you all emotionally invested in this character (even if you don’t like the character, you will still be invested. Because Robin Hobb), and then all those horrible things that happen to the character? because of your emotional investment, it feels like it’s happening to you. or, erm, maybe that’s just me.


So, in Ship of Magic, Althea is cheated out of her inheritance. Her douchebag brother-in-law, Kyle, persuades the rest of the family that only he can look after the family’s legacy.  He’s such a jackass whiny twat that I want to call him Kylo.  see all the horrible words I’ve already used to describe him?  Althea isn’t an angel either, she’s kinda whiny too . . .


Oh, but what could this inheritance possibly be that they are fighting over? A liveship. Like, the ship is made of a special kind of wood, and after a while, the ship wakes up.  It’s alive, and liveships are a totally normal thing in this area. And the ships talk. And they are awesome. There is one liveship that supposedly went mad, and it’s been beached. Althea talks to it sometimes. I bet it would be super therapeutic if that beached ship could swim again.  I totally want to pet that poor ship and bring it cookies.  and Kyle needs to die in a fire.  But, this is a Hobb, so he won’t.

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leena krohn coverLeena Krohn: Collected Fiction, by Leena Krohn

published by Cheeky Frawg, December 8th 2015

Where I got it: Received eArc from the publisher (thanks!)

this is part one of a multiple part review.







Covering over 30 years and including over 800 pages of surreal speculative fiction and critical essays, I wouldn’t want to boil all my thoughts down into one review. To encourage myself to linger in these pages, to enjoy what I’m reading instead of rushing through it so I can write one review that covers a woman’s entire career, I will be writing multiple reviews to cover the works included in Leena Krohn: Collected Fiction.  Originally published in her native Finnish, the works have been translated by Hildi Hawkins, Bethany Fox, Anna Volmari, and J. Robert Tupasela, among others.  In this first review, I’ll  be discussing Tainaron: Mail from another City, and The Pelican’s New Clothes. What’s so wonderful about everything I’ve read so far in Leena Krohn: Collected Fiction is that any one of these short novels, or excerpts, or short stories, has so much meat to chew on. There’s so much here to think about and play with and attempt to understand, and fall into.  This collection as seen as a whole is like a meta fractal.  The further I fall in, the more I see, the more patterns I see, and the more patterns I want to see.  That will make more sense to you if you take this journey with me.


Tainaron: Mail from another City, written in 1985 is a fascinating short novel that consists of over two dozen letters, sent from a  woman who is visiting the island city of Tainaron. She never gets a response to the letters she writes, and in occasional fits of frustration she asks the person she is writing to why they never respond. Even so, the letters become a sort of diary for her, a place to privately write down all her strange and amazing experiences in Tainaron. Experiences like meeting a neglected prince, an upstairs neighbor so strange that she ended up moving to a new apartment, and public displays of chemical pleasure.  Tainaron isn’t like any other city, it’s not even a human citizen. This is an island populated by insects, in all their myriad beauty. There are beetles and bees and Queens who continually give birth, and insects that mimic other insects. It’s hard to know exactly what everything is, because the letter writer refers to everyone she meets simply as “people”, which I loved.


The primary themes of Tainaron include that of metamorphosis and inevitability. All the insect residents know winter  means hibernation, and hibernation means metamorphosis, and changing into a new form is just something everyone does, and why get anxious about any of this, since it is inevitable? Sometimes people remember who they were before, sometimes not.    I was reminded a bit of a scene in China Mieville’s Perdido Street Station, where the chemistry of chrysalises and metamorphosis is discussed. That the creature who goes into the chrysalis is genetically and chemically different than the creature who emerges. That the first must cease to exist for the second to be born, and that this change is inescapable.

tainaron cover 2

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some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.