A More Cerebral Fantasy Experience
Noone could have missed the growing popularity of Swedish mystery writers like Stig Lasson and Henning Mankell least not as a Swede. Yet Swedish science fiction and fantasy literature has been lacking from this blog so far. I have promised myself I will rectify that in the future.
First out is Åsa Schwartz who’s first novel Nefilim has been published in 16 countries (link to English version). Nephilim are the offspring of angels and human females according to one interpretation of the Bible. Her new book En Död Ängel [A Dead Angel] a standalone sequel to Nefilim is so far only available in Swedish but I understand there are plans for an English translation later.
En Död Ängel takes place in Stockholm and the Mount Ararat region of Turkey and Armenia. The female protagonist Nova Barakel is a Greenpeace activist with a mysterious past. She goes to Mount Ararat with other Greenpeace activists to build an Ark there as a symbol for the fight against climate change. The green theme goes all though the book and humanity’s pollution of Earth is a major issue.
Nova is brutally attacked when she and her new-found boyfriend Benjamin visit the uninhabited ruin city of Ani only to wake up a week later in a hospital bed in Stockholm. Benjamin has not been seen since, why? She checks herself out only to learn that Sylvester one of her hacker friends has been murdered. Against doctors and her friend Arvid’s protests she immediately starts to plan to return to Turkey to search for Benjamin and clues of her own past.
I like strong female characters and Nova Barakel is probably the most believable I have met so far. She is a complex character unsure of her past, which will be revealed in this book. She makes mistakes and deal with them as a normal person would do. As in almost all good stories there is love but it never becomes the main thing. Nova is her own person but she has some relationship issues not only with her missing boyfriend but also with pining male friends that complicates her life. All her inner dialog allows the reader to come really close to her.
The environment and the details in the story give the same kind of insight behind the curtain that has made other Swedish authors popular abroad. I am impressed by the research and expertise evident in this book with social criticism, religion, history, mysticism and cyber security in a coherent and enjoyable mixture. The author must have spent a great deal of time researching it. I had the opportunity to talk with her at EuroCon this year and she told me she went down to Armenia to do the research on site. That she works as an IT security consultant is also clear.
I don’t want to go into too many details and spoil the surprise but Nova stumbles on something that can have global repercussions. We dig into cyber security, angels, family secrets, and much more before the surprising and explosive finale.
Åsa Schwartz is the leading lady of eco fantasy and her new book En Död Ängel [A Dead Angel] is an ominous eco thriller, a sequel to Nefilim that takes us into the supernatural. It was a real page-turner I read in one go. This gets a warm recommendation as a more cerebral fantasy experience.
En Död Ängel [A Dead Angel] (Nova Barakel 2) by Åsa Schwarz ( Telegramförlaget 2011) – Bokus (Swedish)
Read the first chapter here (pdf in Swedish)