Don't Miss This Year's Epic Historical Fiction Love Story

Fans of Cold Mountain will devour The End of Drum-Time.

end of drum time

Published on January 24, The End of Drum-Time is the best type of historical fiction—electrifying, edifying, and set in an utterly enthralling time and place” (The Minneapolis Star Review). Yet despite being a finalist for the 2023 National Book Awards, far too many people have been missing out on this “transcendent” tale (Publisher’s Weekly).

Perhaps this is because, as the National Book Awards wrote in their judges citation, Hanna Pylväinen’s work is about “a place, people, and time unfamiliar to most readers.” But like all great authors, Pylväinen manages to find the common humanity and tell a story that is relevant to modern audiences—even as she spends her chapters detailing the lives of reindeer herders in 19th century Scandinavia.

While her novel is incredibly researched—who knew how fascinating reindeer herding could be?— Pylväinen’s greatest accomplishment is crafting characters who draw us in. They’re “full of human foibles, passions, and tenderness, jealousy, courage, doubts, and moments of transcendence” (Kirkus Reviews).

The End of Drum-Time begins by introducing readers to Lars Levi, a Lutheran minister who is seeking to grow his parish and convert the Sámi, the native reindeer herders of northern Scandinavia. Known by “Mad Lasse” by many of the locals, the Sámi are difficult to convince—especially when the “believers” around them tend to “go around reading the Bible at people whether or not they wanted to hear it.”

However, after an earthquake literally shakes the entire congregation, there is a conversion of one of the Sámi—Bietter, a reindeer herder from a respected family who had since fallen on hard times, having drunk away much of his earnings after the sudden death of his wife. His son, Ivvár, is shocked at the change. But this is nothing compared to the changes that will come when he unexpectedly meets Willa, the daughter of Lars Levi. 

Despite their differences, Ivvár and Willa are drawn to one another. As their love deepens, the old ways of both their cultures are questioned. And then Willa decides to join Ivvár on the herders’ perilous yearly migration north.

Both a sweeping love story and a meditation on how we find faith—and how we lose it—The End of Love Time “brings the readers to a recent past, a distant land, and proves that the complexity of human nature is as relevant and timeless as the ancient landscape” (Yiyun Li, author of Where Reasons End).

Want to read it for yourself? Download The End of Drum-Time now.

The End of Drum-Time by Hanna Pylväinen

The End of Drum-Time

By Hanna Pylväinen

In prose that is at once luxuriant and precise, Hanna Pylväinen vividly transports the reader to the remote Scandinavian tundra of the 1850s, introducing complicated characters who reveal their deepest joys, sorrows, fears, and hopes. This stunning novel manages to explore major themes of identity, race, politics, and faith, all while putting the focus firmly on the human stories at hand. The End of Drum-Time masterfully takes us to a place, people, and time unfamiliar to most readers but one that becomes completely alive—and closely mirrors the most divisive and potent aspects of our contemporary lives. (Judges Citation, National Book Foundation)