Johanna Sinisalo

Original title: Ennen päivänlaskua ei voi

Author: Johanna Sinisalo

Published: 2000

Publisher: Tammi

Genre: Fantasy & Science Fiction

Pages: 268

Reading material:

English edition

“A punk version of The Hobbit” – USA Today

Mikael, a young gay photographer, finds a small, man-like creature in the courtyard of his apartment block. It is a young troll, familiar from Scandinavian mythology: a demonic, wild beast. And it is the most beautiful thing he has ever seen. Supposedly extinct, today it is regarded as a hairy, cuddly toy by Nordic children. Mikael gives the troll a name, Pessi, and takes him home and hides him.

The first thing Mikael does is research everything he can about trolls on the internet, from folklore, nature journals, and newspaper clippings. Despite his studies, Mikael does not learn that trolls exude pheromones that smell like a Calvin Klein aftershave and that this has a profound aphrodisiac effect on all those around him. Shooting an assignment for an ultra-hip brand of jeans, Mikael finds himself fast-tracked into a dangerous liaison with Martes, the sexually ambivalent art director of the advertising agency concerned, while a couple of his friends in turn fall in love with him because he carries the troll’s scent.

What Mikael fails above all to learn, with tragic consequences, is that Pessi the troll is the interpreter of man’s darkest, most forbidden impulses.


”A wily thriller-fantasy … Each discovery sounds like the voice of a storyteller reminding us of how the gods play with our fates.” – The New York Times

“[A] dark fable … Troll offers an ingenious dramatization of the nightmare of blurred boundaries between species, and a disturbing dystopian vision reminiscent of Karel Capek’s classic War with the Newts. A fascinating black comedy, from a writer who has made the transition to literary fiction with a giant’s strides.” – Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“A sharp, resonant, prickly book that exists on the slipstream of SF, fantasy, horror and gay fiction.” – Neil Gaiman

“A punk version of The Hobbit.” – USA Today

“[A] strange, sexually charged contemporary folk tale … Sinisalo’s elastic prose is at once lyrical and matter-of-fact, but this is not a comfortable novel. … As the troll becomes ever more unmanageable, the sense of doom grows; the ferocious ending is thoroughly unsettling.” – Publishers Weekly

“[An] eerie blend of traditional troll lore and cool urban thriller.” – The Independent (London)

“The comedy is irresistible, the pages turn themselves, carried along by the quicksilver of an unbelievably imaginative pen … Run to this book. Besides the pleasure of reading it, Johanna Sinisalo wickedly plays with myth and ancient fears. The story of Mikael, trendy young thing of the city, and Pessi the little troll, child of the night, is Beauty and the Beast. An entertaining variation on the eternal confrontation between man and beast, the light and dark angels that live in all of us." –  Télérama (Paris)

A wily thriller-fantasy … Each discovery sounds like the voice of a storyteller reminding us of how the gods play with our fates.

The New York Times

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Rights sold:
FINLAND: Tammi (orig.)
DENMARK: Jensen & Dalgaard
FILM & TV RIGHTS: Måns Mårlind & Tuppence Middleton
FRANCE: Actes Sud
UNITED STATES: Cheeky Frawg Books

Foreign covers

About author

Johanna Sinisalo

Johanna Sinisalo (b. 1958) is a Finlandia Prize-winning superstar of Finnish speculative fiction. In addition to her nine novels, she has also written short fiction and film and television screenplays. Her works have been translated into twenty languages.

Sinisalo has won several literary prizes also abroad, such as the 2004 James Tiptree, Jr. Award and the 2017 Prometheus Award, and was nominated for the Nebula Award in 2008, the Prix Escapades in 2012, and the Grand Prix de L’Imaginaire in 2017. In 2022, Johanna Sinisalo was awarded the Pro Finlandia Medal for services to Finnish literature.


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2000, Fantasy & Science Fiction

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