cover image The Blood of Angels

The Blood of Angels

Johanna Sinisalo, trans. from the Finnish by Lola Rogers. Peter Owen, $15.95 trade paper (240p) ISBN 978-0-7206-1004-8

This dour but impressive novel by renowned Finnish fantasist Sinisalo (Troll: A Love Story) is set in a near future in which colony collapse disorder, the mass disappearance of bees, has wreaked havoc on the world. With no bees to pollinate vital crops, devastating food shortages are unavoidable. So far Finland’s bees have been spared, but Orvo, a funeral director by profession and dedicated beekeeper by avocation, has just discovered that the bees from one of his hives have gone missing and he fears the worst. Sinisalo alternates Orvo’s somewhat elliptical ruminations about his life with posts from the increasingly radical environmentalist blog written by his son, Eero. There are also hints of another disaster involving Eero and the local slaughterhouse. The tale turns from near-future SF to fantasy when Orvo discovers the entry to another world in his barn loft and wonders whether this is where the vanished bees are fleeing to. The novel’s flat tone and didacticism can make it hard to warm to at first, but as Orvo’s life story emerges—particularly his complex relationships with his son, father, and grandfather—the reader will be moved to contemplate the unforeseen ways that each generation influences the next. (Dec.)