Best-selling Norwegian novelist Tone Almhjell charms readers with a new young adult fantasy Thornghost. Out tomorrow, the story follows Niklas Summerhill, a character that debuted in Almhjell’s debut novel, The Twistrose Key, which received wide critical acclaim and many accolades. The author expands the wondrous world she created in her debut with this new standalone that finds Niklas Summerhill in the middle of some strange things happening around his home. Still grieving the loss of his mother and dealing with the mysterious circumstances of her dead, Niklas finds a portal to another world and enters with the hope of finding answers.
There’s a song featured in the book, entitled “Erika’s Song,” which was composed by the author’s brother Eivind Almhjell. The accompanying vocals written by the author were recorded by Anne Lise Frøkedal, a popular musician in Norway who is breaking out in the U.S. You can read more about her in this feature published in The New Yorker earlier this year.
Listen to the song, exclusively, below!
Some quick facts about “Erika’s Song”:
- The song is written as a lullaby meant to communicate the sadness of Erika’s story and her very soul. Still a lullaby, though, so not entirely dark; it was after all intended to put her baby boy to sleep.
- The melody, chords and song structure draw upon traditional Norwegian lullabies. There’s a lot of beauty in sadness.
- Norwegian musician Erlend Viken plays the harding fiddle, which is a traditional Norwegian folk instrument.
- The character of Uncle Anders is inspired by a relative of the author, Erik Almhjell (1881-1963), who was a renowned fiddler.
How does the song fit into Thornghost’s narrative?
In the first verse, the instruments and the vocal should feel very close, like you’re in a room with Erika and the instruments. It’s inspired by both the idea of her singing a lullaby to directly to a child and the scene from the book where Niklas listens to the tape recording. The lyrics are a message for her in the “real” world, so everything sounds very natural.
In the second verse we move to the world of Broken, where Sebastifer waits. There’s more dreaminess, flow and atmosphere both in instrumentation and production. It builds up to the ooo-part with the highest notes, which symbolizes Sebastifer’s hopeful howling, resonating through the howling stone and into Erika’s ears and mind. At the end of the second verse, years have passed, and you can hear the resignation, loss of hope and the becoming of a Thornghost.
The third verse speaks for itself. Erika stayed and everything withers – the realm, the Brokeners, Sebastifer and Erika’s life. The atmosphere from the second verse is all gone, and we are back to the small room from the recording or the bedside, or even Erika’s deathbed.
Thornghost is a magical story you likely won’t forget; be ready to be moved by the heart-racing adventure, nuanced characters and emotional themes. It hit shelves Tuesday, August 16, 2016.