Aurora Cloud (auroracloud) wrote,
Aurora Cloud
auroracloud

My Yuletide Madness treat, and Maria Gripe's Shadow series

What with the nasty cold starting to hit me from Boxing Day onwards, I never got around to squeeing here about my Yuletide Madness gift! That must be corrected, because it was wonderful - even though the chances of any of my followers knowing the fandom are probably tiny.

Here it is:
Totentanz
Fandom: Skuggserien | The Shadow Series - Maria Gripe
Characters: Rosilda Falck af Stenstierna, Arild Falck af Stenstierna
Words: 315
Rating: General Audiences
Summary: Living in Rosengåva is almost not like living at all.

The story is lovely, but before I say more about it, let me write about this book series. It's one of the beloved books/series of my heart, one that I've been reading and rereading since I was about 11, and has shaped my literary tastes and fascinations and thoughts more than I can even understand. I don't know what languages it's been translated into - the original is in Swedish, and I've mostly been reading it in Finnish translation. It consists of four books by the Swedish author Maria Gripe, telling a story of families and secrets, growing up and much more, set in early 1900s Sweden. They're historical novels that don't read like typical historical novels but focus on the hearts and minds and interactions of the characters, while the age and place they live in influence them greatly. The series is known as Skuggserien - the Shadow Series - because each of the book titles includes the word shadow, and shadows are a constant theme of the books - in the form of secrets and hidden things, dreams and fancies, dark places, long shadows cast by the past, and more than I can explain here.

They've got many elements of Gothic fiction, while going my deeper and psychologically truer than any Gothic fiction I've read; I only understood in adulthood that this is where my love for mysterious houses, family secrets, hidden identities, secret sisters, mysterious pasts, dreamy gardens, burning houses, written secrets, dark corridors and all that originates from - and why I always yearn for much more depth than just the outer trappings, because these books already gave it to me when I was very young. They're beautifully written, deep and complex, and though they were accessible to 11-year-old me (I was precocious; I think the intended target group is a bit older), they've got at least as much to offer over 20 years later. The books fascinatingly walk along the border between realism and fantasy, and though the events never cross over to overtly supernatural, you have the sense of reading something between Gothic fantasy and psychological, complex historical story.

The main story follows two girls, Berta and Carolin, both very interesting and complex characters - the first three books are in the point of view of Berta, an intelligent but insecure girl given to following things from the sidelines, while the last one switches to the point of view of the hitherto enigmatic and mercurial Carolin, whose book is structured and written very differently from the first three. From book two onwards, though, their lives are also entwined with those of two young people living in a mysterious castle, Rosengåva - a brother and a sister, Arild and Rosilda. They live very strange, secluded lives, given to dreams and living in the past, not much in touch with reality, but yearning for something truer. The headstrong Rosilda, passionate in all her fancies and fantasies, is the one we get to know better than the withdrawn, dreamy, philosophical Arild, but they're both central to the story.

In the books, Rosengåva is a strange place, a little like a fairyland in good and bad - it binds a spell on people staying there, but the spell can feel heavy and dark just as it can feel fascinating and beautiful. I have always felt spellbound by the part of the story set in Rosengåva, and the people there. In particular, I always wanted to know more about Rosilda and Arild. Though we spend a lot of time with them in the books, especially through Berta's eyes and especially with Rosilda, we're never in their point of view, and I never tire of learning about them. I adored Rosilda's character in particular, though Arild as well, and it fascinates me what it is like to live in that spell of a place, to live a life consisting of dreams, shadows and past, yet yearn for something more. I never thought I'd get more of it, though - at first I didn't even know about fan fiction, and when I did, these books hardly felt like something for which I could find a fandom.

Then, comes this autumn 2016, I'm thinking about my Yuletide sign-up, and going through some of the fandoms in the previous year's archive for inspiration. I suddenly, randomly notice that last year, someone had requested the Shadow Series, and that someone had written it as a treat. There were other people who both read and write fan fiction and who love these books enough to consider it a fandom! I knew I had to request it, even though the fandom had to be the tiniest of tiny fandoms and the odds of being assigned to a person who knew it were infinitesimal. I also knew which characters I was going to request - if I ever was going to get a tiny bit more of Rosilda and Arild, it was here.

So, I did get this story in Yuletide Madness! Though just a few hundred words long, it's complete in itself, a kind of a dreamy reflection that fits the atmosphere of the books perfectly. It has the heartaching wistfulness associated with the books and with the Rosengåva siblings in particular, it's incredibly beautiful just in the way the books are, and Rosilda and her longings feel just right, as does the sense of together-yet-separate she has with Arild, and it succeeds in giving me new insights about these characters I've been fascinated with for over 20 years. And it's simply enchanting to know there are other people who love this story and these characters enough to write this, or read this.

That's exactly what Yuletide is for, isn't it?
Tags: fanfic, maria gripe, skuggserien, yuletide
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