Strange Horizons, March 8, 2004

Note: This post was imported from an old content-management system, so please excuse any inconsistencies in formatting.

"Louisa, Johnny, and the North Shore Huldre" by S. Evans "Louisa, Johnny, and the North Shore Huldre" by S. Evans is the tale of a husband, his wife, and a huldre– a Norwegian troll maiden with a cow's tail–and the huldre's attempt to get her man, which is the only way she can lose her cow's tail and become human. The narrator's striking voice caught my attention immediately, as did the descriptions. How can you not love this line?

"Grandfather Winter's flexing his muscles, spitting frost-chaw all over the tree branches and pissing ice over Lady Superior."

Or this?

"If they were Catholic, they'd cross themselves, but they're Lutheran, so they brood instead."

In addition, Ms. Evans has a deft touch with present tense. The transition from Johnny's segment of the tale to Louisa's was intriguing and smooth enough that I went right along. Of the husband and wife, Louisa is the more interesting character–it's a given with her determination to reclaim her husband and her magical powers that match the huldre's own.

But while I loved much of this story, the end didn't pack the power I needed and felt flat. I'd say the failure is more likely due to the choice of using a strong narrative voice over tight third person. Yet when an author does so much right, I find it sad to have the ending fall short.

Even though it's not perfect, S. Evans has given us a wonderful voice, a solid tale in a not-too-familiar setting, which is guaranteed to keep our attention focused on the screen.