Travel to a world like ours, but different.
Where you have to work to survive, but if there is the slightest suspicion that you’re not in your right mind, they’ll take you away, isolate you to stop the ‘disease’ spreading, and make you work even harder, for much less.
Where the natural resources are exploited to extinction, the factories poison the water and nobody really trusts anyone, least of all the government, who is a mouthpiece for lies that nobody dares to question, and makes sure to track your every move for ‘security’ reasons.
Until a young woman who’s a little bit different realises that dreams are not so dangerous, after all, and there is a power within them that can be unlocked.
So far, so classic fantasy? But this is 21st century Finnish ecofeminist fantasy, alongside Johanna Sinisalo and Maria Turtschaninoff. Will good triumph over evil? Or – as in the Matrix and The Hunger Games – will the moment of truth be the beginning of a new cycle of destruction? Or is creation more able to renew itself than we think?
I was utterly absorbed by Emmi Itäranta’s The City of Woven Streets/Kudottujen kuijen kaupunki. I read it in Finnish, but Itäranta translated it into English herself and it came out in the UK (with a straight translation of the original title) this summer. Three weeks ago, it was released in the US as The Weaver (this one seems to be about the individual -the localisation is fascinating, but that’s another story). It’s published by Harper Voyager, who also brought you Game of Thrones – it may be no coincidence that their Publishing Director studied Old Icelandic.
The best way to get a feel for The City of Woven Streets is to have a listen to Ayesha Kala reading from chapter 1 of the UK edition, and to have a look at the image board where Itäranta collected her ideas. And if you devour it at a frightening pace, don’t despair – her Memory of Water/Teemeisterin kirja is already available in more than a dozen languages. I’ll be reading it next.