Lumikki is a loner. She has built walls around herself as a form of survival. She was ruthlessly bullying during elementary/middle school years and couldn't even find solace at home. To her, home was just as bad but for different reasons. She knew her parents loved her, but always felt they kept her at arms length. Now she is living alone while she attends a prestigious art school. Here she has finally been able to find a place where she is truly happy, the school's dark room. She is one of the few students who uses the room. So imagine her surprise when she finds thousands of blood covered euros hanging up in the dark room. Once she finds out where the money came from, she wants nothing more then to forget she ever saw it. Unfortunately, life has other plans for her.
I feel like something must have been lost in the translation of this novel. I notice most of the reviews written in Finnish and/or Swedish are pretty high, while a good number written in English are kina low. Lumikki was a strong, likable character. I just couldn't believe her back-story. She is a 17 year old who has super ninja skills and spy skills the would put the FBI to shame. Why? Your guess is as good as mine. There was never any mention of training in her past, and only one incident of her standing up to her former bullies. There is mention of Lumikki working out in the gym, but do not try and tell me she learned everything she knows at Planet Fitness.
The villains in this are out right laughable. You have a Finnish Mafia that can be taken down by small group of teenagers. All the side characters were pretty flat, with the exception of Elisa. She didn't have a fully fleshed out feel to her, but she at least strong presence and had something about her to make you care. Elisa is the one who brings out the best elements of Lumikki's personality. I had a hard time connecting with Lumikki until she became entangled with Elisa. When you get down to the bare bones mystery, I liked it. Average people get in over their heads with a crime syndicate, one mistake/misunderstanding is made, big chain of events is set off, innocents are dragged in, people die. Its a story-line that's been used thousands of times, but its one that works. Kind of like a Choose Your Own Adventure. I fully believe you could give it to a hundred authors, and they's turn it into a hundred completely different books. Its the author's personal pixie dust they add that makes them so different. Simukka had all the elements for a unique, edge of your seat mystery. Sadly, the execution fell flat.
I would be willing to try another book by Simukka if it was translated by someone else. Even though I didn't like this particular book, I liked everything Simukka brought to the table. You have two female characters who could have carried the slacking parts of the story if the characters had been just a little bit stronger. There is a touch of fairy tale to it. The fairy tale connection wasn't very strong, or needed for the most part, but I still liked it. And even if it is over used, I still enjoy the story layout used.