RogerBW's Blog

The Raven and the Reindeer, T Kingfisher 24 July 2023

2016 fantasy. Gerta's friend Kay is stolen away by the Snow Queen; so off she goes to get him back.

The fairy tale this time is The Snow Queen of course, and if you know that story you'll spot many reflections of it here. I didn't! I was never much of a fan of Anderson and I don't seem to have met that particular story of his, but I still hugely enjoyed this.

"However," said Mousebones, "since you have given me cheese and carried me all this way, I will not eat your eyes today, unless you want me to."

"Want you to?"

"Well," said Mousebones, fluffing up all his feathers and settling them again. "Some people do. For wisdom, you know. I could pluck out an eye and eat it and then the other one would have the second sight. In theory."

"Does that work?" asked Gerta.

Mousebones made a drawn out aaaurrrrr-rrr-rrk sound. "It might," he said, a bit doubtfully. "I just handle the eye-eating bit. The second sight is somebody else's problem."

Because it's real. And it's very Finnish (and Kingfisher had the sense to consult experts in reindeer, and in Finnish and Sami folklore and history); it comes over effectively as a culture that is not mine but that makes sense on its own terms.

At the same time, the people are real; Gerta may start off as the mindlessly devoted girl following the selfish boy, but unlike Anderson's "heroine" she gets a chance to think for herself.

I'm loving everything I read by Kingfisher. There's something here that reminds me of Frances Hardinge, that same slightly sideways way of looking at tropes. Very fine stuff!

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