cover image The End of Drum-Time

The End of Drum-Time

Hanna Pylväinen. Holt, $27.99 (368p) ISBN 978-1-250-82290-1

Pylväinen’s captivating latest (after We Sinners) follows the inhabitants of a tiny Swedish village in the Arctic Circle in 1852 as a pastor’s popularity begins to take off. Lars Laestadius’s church had been filling with Finns, Swedes, and native Sami who were drawn in by his wild sermons. Then, one day, Biettar Rasti, a former Sami shaman and prominent reindeer herder who’s now a drunk, interrupts a service with his own awakening on the church floor, which coincides with an earthquake. He leaves his herd to his son Ivvar and frequents the parsonage to learn scripture from Lars’s family, and Lars’s daughter Willa takes a shine to Ivvar. Ivvar, like his father, drinks and is indebted to the village storekeeper whose collection he avoids. Ivvar breaks things off with a Sami girl and begins spending time with Willa, and when Lars catches them kissing, she is shunned. Soon Willa sets off on sledges and takes refuge with the Sami, who along with Ivvar, are moving with their herds to the sea. By the end, a dean’s intervention into Lars’s temperance teachings and attempts to collect debts from the Sami culminate in tragic violence. With immersive details of Bible thumping and reindeer herding, the author evocatively captures two cultures and shows what happens when Christian mores collide with the customs of the remote Sami. This is transcendent. (Jan.)