Book details

The End of Drum-Time

A Novel

Author: Hanna Pylväinen

The End of Drum-Time

The End of Drum-Time

About This Book

Longlisted for the 2023 National Book Award for Fiction

An epic love story in the vein of Cold Mountain and The Great Circle, about a young...

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Book Details

Longlisted for the 2023 National Book Award for Fiction

An epic love story in the vein of Cold Mountain and The Great Circle, about a young reindeer herder and a minister’s daughter in the nineteenth century Arctic Circle

In 1851, at a remote village in the Scandinavian tundra, a Lutheran minister known as Mad Lasse tries in vain to convert the native Sámi reindeer herders to his faith. But when one of the most respected herders has a dramatic awakening and dedicates his life to the church, his impetuous son, Ivvár, is left to guard their diminishing herd alone. By chance, he meets Mad Lasse’s daughter Willa, and their blossoming infatuation grows into something that ultimately crosses borders—of cultures, of beliefs, and of political divides—as Willa follows the herders on their arduous annual migration north to the sea.

Gorgeously written and sweeping in scope, Hanna Pylväinen's The End of Drum-Time immerses readers in a world lit by the northern lights, steeped in age-old rituals, and guided by passions that transcend place and time.

Imprint Publisher

Henry Holt and Co.



Reading Guide

In The News

An NPR Book of the Day
Named a Most Anticipated Book of 2023 by Elle

The writing is so beautiful and so entrancing that you'll embrace both the harsh realities of herding and hunting in sub-zero temperatures, and the doctrines dictated by a culture centered on suffering and submission. Fortunately, the author also gives the young couple a heated ... coupling, which, along with other scenes of communal joy and work, remind readers that even in the darkest Northern world life remains.”

A monumental feat of melodic prose and astute observation, Hanna Pylväinen’s historical fiction novel The End of Drum-Time transports readers to the otherworldly tundra of Scandinavia, circa 1851, where minister Lars Levi is 'always after' the 'heart' of the native Sámi reindeer herders, whom he seeks to convert. When one of these Sámi falls for Lars’s own daughter, the resulting adventure is one as powerful and profound as the book’s awe-inspiring setting.”

The best type of historical fiction--electrifying, edifying, and set in an utterly enthralling time and place.”
The Minneapolis Star Review

Pylväinen’s tale offers not only exquisite prose and insightful observations, but also fresh perspectives on family bonds, cultural traditions, and religious colonialism.”
The Christian Science Monitor

Ambitious and resonant, a vivid, fascinating, and moving novel...Beautifully written and masterfully researched, the book's greatest triumph is the characters, full of human foibles, passions, and tenderness, jealousy, courage, doubts, and moments of transcendence.”
Kirkus (starred review)

Publishers Weekly (starred review)

With engrossing details of reindeer herding, a beautifully rendered setting and powerful echoes of America’s own dark history of settlers forcing their religion on Indigenous peoples, The End of Drum-Time will leave a lasting impression on all readers of historical fiction.”
BookPage (starred review)

Pylväinen creates a picture of a time and a place with an appealing diversity of characterization—the 'outlander' Swedes, the native Sámi—each character crafted with a depth and complexity that brings them to life, from their religious beliefs to the cultural ties that knot them together and tear them apart. All is told through expressive prose that makes for an engaging immersion in a unique world.”

“The End of Drum-Time explores some of the most complex themes in literature in some of the most gorgeous prose imaginable. Hanna Pylväinen’s novel of cultural collision in the far north is an extraordinary feat of research and imagination by an author who reminds you with every page what fiction can accomplish.”
—Anthony Marra, New York Times bestselling author of Mercury Pictures Present

The End of Drum-Time is a novel like no other. It is as much a historical epic as it is an intimate love story—as much a vast cultural record as it is a detailed study of a person's soul. It is infinitely rich and rewarding. In these pages, Hanna Pylväinen tells a story of love, faith, reindeer herding, and human failing. She has written a masterpiece.”
—Julia Phillips, author of the National Book Award finalist Disappearing Earth

“One of the most unique voices in American literature, Hanna Pylväinen occupies a space shared by the Scandinavian writers Kerstin Ekman, Tove Jansson, and, beyond that, 19th century masters. The End of Drum-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. A triumph from the first page to the last!”
Yiyun Li, author of Where Reasons End

“The nuanced, fully realized world of The End of Drum-Time is mesmerising. Pylväinen renders the icy landscape at the edge of the arctic circle as vibrantly as she conjures the distinctive voices of the characters and the impossible choices the Sámi families face. Like Hilary Mantel, Pylväinen has written that rare historical novel that is as expansive as it is precise and lyrical.”
—Idra Novey, author of Those Who Knew

“Hanna Pylväinen’s audacious and thrilling epic about the human and spiritual costs of religious colonialism took my breath away. A literary ventriloquist, she gracefully evokes both the Sámi and the Swedes with a profound awareness of cultural nuance that makes any conversation or gesture of love thrum with social and political resonance. A brilliant achievement.”
—Marisa Silver, author of The Mysteries and Little Nothing

The End of Drum-Time may take place in the 19th century, but its concerns--faith, love, the treatment of indigenous people--are anything but dated. I was enraptured by the vivid world of this novel, which feels like a classic. Hanna Pylväinen is an exquisite writer and this book is extraordinary.”
Elliott Holt, author of You Are One of Them

About the Creators

The End of Drum-Time

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The End of Drum-Time