Zaida and the Fellow Combatant

Saku Heinänen

Original title: Zaida ja taistelupari

Author: Saku Heinänen

Published: 2017

Publisher: Tammi

Genre: Middle Grade (8-12 Years)

Pages: 200

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.

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Rights sold:
FINLAND: Tammi (orig.)

About author

Saku Heinänen

Saku Heinänen is an illustrator, type designer, and former professor of graphic design at Aalto University. He creates light and shadow in his illustrations with skillful use of black ink. He has written and illustrated two praised children’s novels, Zaida and the Snow Angel (Finlandia Junior nominee 2014) and Zaida and the Thunderbolts (Arvid Lydecken nominee 2015).


2017, Middle Grade (8-12 Years)

Saku Heinänen

Zaida and the Fellow Combatant

2015, Middle Grade (8-12 Years)

Saku Heinänen

Zaida and the Summer Lightning

2014, Middle Grade (8-12 Years)

Saku Heinänen

Zaida and the Snow Angel

Illustrated books

Saku Heinänen


2016, Middle Grade (8-12 Years)