‘The End of Drum-Time’ weaves a poignant tale of clashing cultures

In a remote village near the Arctic Circle, charismatic Lutheran minister Lars Levi Laestadius tries valiantly to turn his congregation away from alcohol and towards salvation. His flock includes Finns and Swedes, but also a few Sámi, nomadic reindeer herders, the Indigenous people of the Scandinavian tundra.

With “The End of Drum-Time,” Hanna Pylväinen provides a fictionalized account of a mid-19th century religious movement as she weaves a tale of clashing cultures and religious colonialism. The award-winning author unwinds an exquisite story that combines historical fiction, romance, and social commentary.

The story begins when Lars Levi is unexpectedly interrupted by Biettar Rasti, a shaman and a leader among the Sámi people. As Biettar stands quietly in the aisle of the church, everyone stunned by his presence, an earthquake rattles the small building. No one is quite sure what is happening, whether they are experiencing yet another example of nature’s harsh treatment or perhaps a dramatic religious awakening. As the congregation stares silently, all Lars Levi can think is, “What a coup, if Biettar should be saved, here and now!”