Written with an imagery-rich style and set in Tampere, Finland, As Red As Blood is a mystery, the first book in a trilogy by Salla Simukka featuring Lumikki Andersson. Prinsessa Lumisirkku ja kääpiöt (Princess Snow-bunting and the Dwarfs) was the original title for the fairy tale “Snow White” in Finland, and Lumikki, like her fairytale namesake, is pursued by bullies who wish her dead. The violence, torture, and subjugation of this bullying, which began in elementary school, has hardened Lumikki into an independent and pragmatic survivalist. The physical similarities, however, don’t match the brown-haired Lumikki, who likes her “coffee black and strong, facts straight up, and an apartment made for living in” (20); the only decoration in her room is a calendar featuring Mooman characters. “For her, a day of pampering means comic books, black licorice, serious exercise, veggie curry, and above all, solitude” (56).
Not vain or materialistic, seventeen-year-old Lumikki shuns make-up and fashion, preferring instead her combat boots, gray sweater, and black wool jacket. On her very first day of high school, Lumikki had decided that she would not belong to a group; she didn’t want to be pigeon-holed or easily labelled. She also adopted the motto: “The easiest way to get along in life is to meddle as little as possible” (29), a motto she ignores, however, when she finds dozens of five-hundred-euro bills hanging to dry in the school’s darkroom. The darkroom had been her refuge, the quiet place where she could momentarily escape not only the perfume mafia but the cacophony of sounds and feelings and opinions. This discovery shatters her peaceful ritual, “a habit that was both an echo of the past and an itegral part of the present” (27).
Elisa, a policeman’s daughter; Tukka, the principal’s son; and Kasper, a wannabee gangster, are playing dangerous games with drugs and alcohol and who knows what else because they’re desperate for excitement and anything rebellious. Despite her vow to not get mixed up in the laundered money mess, Lumikki finds herself responding to Elisa’s cry for help and soon discovers that Elisa’s father, Terho Väisänen is involved with criminals.
When Lumikki infiltrates the crime world, she begins to understand crime’s appeal and the promise that creates criminals: there are no rules for those with money, the happily-ever after serum. As she gets closer to learning the identity of Polar Bear, the big crime boss, and the extent of Terho’s involvement, things grow dangerous. Although she thought she had conquered fear, that she didn’t need to be afraid anymore, Lumikki faces fear again because she knows too many secrets.
This first installment in the Snow White Trilogy leaves the reader asking more questions than are answered, but unravelling Lumikki’s secrets will likely provide the fodder for future stories.
- Posted by Donna