The character gallery is swarming and could potentially become confusing, but Wähä juggles her characters virtuously and connects the reader with every member of the afflicted, weary and hysterically funny Toimi family. I’m completely absorbed right from the start, because Wähä certainly knows how to write. There is a mild irony and subdued fierceness to her tone that makes you want to linger with the narrator’s voice /… / The novel is brimming with wistful life wisdom and dour insight. Despite the infernal darkness, the stench of diesel, Finnish quarrels and severe communication issues it still makes me want to move to the Torne Valley immediately.
What a wonderful family chronicle. I’m completely dazzled after having read Nina Wähä’s Testament. I’m amazed that a book like this is written in Sweden today. It is rare /… / The novel is brimming with suspense, as well as powerful emotions /… / Testament adds solace to the mysterious bonds between parents and children by portraying the chaotic Toimi family where terror and tragedy live next door to bread baking and laughter. Is the image of the Torne Valley truthful? Perhaps the author knows her setting or perhaps she has conducted rigorous research. But I don’t think the question is important. Because she masters the art of storytelling, and that is what makes Testament a simply fantastic reading experience.
I’m writing this review in anger, caused by the outrage that arises from having something stolen from you, something that is rightfully yours. Let me start from the beginning; I have just finished reading Testament. You must understand. It is normal to feel a little grumpy when a good book has come to an end. But this? I have lived with these characters, no, these people for days on end. And suddenly it’s over. I’m not disappointed, I’m devastated! /… / The way she allows each family member to momentarily be the lead character, and the way each one does it so convincingly that you forget about the rest, forget previous favourites and become temporarily obsessed with this one child, at the same time as the individual story adds depth to the rest and the family as a unit, is simply wonderful. Not wonderful because it is so skilfully done, but because it reminds you that everyone carries a small universe within, something great and profound that you can never fully understand.
The prose has a completely accurate tone, with long sentences where the commas are as frequent as midges in the Torne Valley, and Nina Wähä masterly commands the rhythm in the flow that she releases. One of the author’s major challenges is to bring their fictional worlds to life. Everything may be skilfully deployed, portrayed in great detail and with a balanced dramaturgy, but still appear lifeless when the magic wand hits the text. Nina Wähä, on the other hand, has managed to write an astoundingly vivid novel /… / If her name isn’t mentioned towards the end of the year, when the major literary prizes are awarded, I would be most surprised.