Zaida and the Fellow Combatant

After the vivid summer by the seaside, Zaida finds school even more disagreeable than before. The teacher seems to pick on her, her small circle of friends is shattered by pre-teenage angst, and Zaida becomes worried for the health of aging Ludwig. When her parents reveal their plan to take Zaida for a root-trip to India, she becomes anxious. In her escape from the difficult everyday, Zaida gets introduced to a group of youngsters who spend their time playing video games in a secret basement. Petteri, the gang’s attractive leader, wants to take a step deeper into the virtual world. He guides them into the sewer networks and server rooms beneath the city. The excitement of navigating the labyrinths and dodging guards turn into a nightmare, when Petteri’s hacker agenda of paralyzing the city gets out of hand. The ghastly characters from his simulations emerge and threaten to drag Zaida with them. In the vertigous climax Zaida gets morphed into her own virtual character. Where was the border between the concrete and the lore, or between the good and the bad?

About the series

The three novels combine psychological and magical realism with ghost stories to tell the story of Zaida, a girl adopted from a faraway country. She worries about her different looks and elderly parents, and as the only child feels lonely and disconnected. But allies and enemies in school are not all: in each of the books, Zaida gets swept into an adventure that blurs the boundaries of reality and fantasy. Balancing on the precarious threshold between childhood and adolescence, Zaida thus hovers between the worlds of everyday and imagination.

The stories follow each other in chronological order, but each book can be read independently, too.

The trilogy is richly illustrated by the author with atmospheric black-and-white drawings.

Zaida and the Summer Lightning

The second story is about the short but intense northern summer. Zaida spends it for the first time in countryside: her uncle, who tragically passed away in the first novel, has left Zaida’s father his home in a village by the sea. The small community is sustained by a steel factory, which looms over it like a benevolent giant. The family tries to clean and fix the old house as well as adapt to the circumstances very different from their city life. Sofia, a retired neighbour, has lost her sight but has a strange ability to see into people’s minds. Zaida becomes close with Sofia and her granddaughter Tuija, already in the tumult of puberty. Their summer becomes filled with moments of joy as well as tricky conflicts. When the village is hit by the abrupt closing of the steel factory, the ghosts from the past seem to return. Zaida is drawn into time-warping episode, and joins forces with Sofia to fight for the existence of the factory – and of the whole village.

About the series

The three novels combine psychological and magical realism with ghost stories to tell the story of Zaida, a girl adopted from a faraway country. She worries about her different looks and elderly parents, and as the only child feels lonely and disconnected. But allies and enemies in school are not all: in each of the books, Zaida gets swept into an adventure that blurs the boundaries of reality and fantasy. Balancing on the precarious threshold between childhood and adolescence, Zaida thus hovers between the worlds of everyday and imagination.

The stories follow each other in chronological order, but each book can be read independently, too.

The trilogy is richly illustrated by the author with atmospheric black-and-white drawings.

Zaida and the Snow Angel

 

The first novel spans one winter of Zaida’s life. The evil twins Janika and Stiina harrass her at school and outside of it. Zaida finds an unexpected ally in Otto, a boy from the parallel class. However, what really transforms her life is Ainu, a mysterious girl whom Zaida meets in a night-time park. Zaida’s old wise dog Ludwig leads her behind its locked gates in the night of the Christmas Day as the first snow is falling. Hiding this from her parents, Zaida begins to visit the park, which transforms to a vast forest with frozen lakes, meadows and hills. A deep friendship and mutual understanding develops between the girls. But why can’t Ainu come home to Zaida? Has anyone else ever even seen her? Finally, Zaida discovers a family secret, which turns the night-time adventures into a ghost story. When the snow melts, Zaida makes a desperate attempt together with Otto to unravel Ainu’s mystery. The book is a moving story about friendship, love, and trust.

 

About the series

The three novels combine psychological and magical realism with ghost stories to tell the story of Zaida, a girl adopted from a faraway country. She worries about her different looks and elderly parents, and as the only child feels lonely and disconnected. But allies and enemies in school are not all: in each of the books, Zaida gets swept into an adventure that blurs the boundaries of reality and fantasy. Balancing on the precarious threshold between childhood and adolescence, Zaida thus hovers between the worlds of everyday and imagination.

The stories follow each other in chronological order, but each book can be read independently, too.

The trilogy is richly illustrated by the author with atmospheric black-and-white drawings.