Sunday 26 May 2024

Boo Review: Kalevala - The Graphic Novel by Sami Makkonen (Graphic Novel - Classics)

Kalevala: The Graphic Novel
Sami Makkonen
6 August 2024
309 pages
eBook - PDF
Graphic Novel - Classics
ARC via Edelweiss

A stunning comic adaptation of the Finnish national epic the Kalevala, which inspired J.R.R. Tolkien to write Silmarillion and Lord of the Rings.

The story tells the adventures and fates of wizard Väinämöinen, warrior Lemminkäinen, black-smith Ilmarinen and other larger than-life-characters looking for love, riches and magic in the far-away lands of the ancient North.

The world of
Kalevala is lyrical, harsh and totally unique.

Kalevala graphic novel is masterfully adapted by Sami Makkonen, best known for his four volumes of the Eisner Award nominated Hatter M series, which has made the NY Times best-selling list. Makkonen has also received the Sarjas Award for Best Fantasy Comic and has been nominated for a number of other awards, including the Ghastly Awards for horror work.


I have previously read The Kalevala -- all 600+ pages of it. It is a long and complex work, so I wondered how it could be condensed into a single graphic novel, though I was intrigued by the idea of it. I thought it could be a good way to introduce new readers to this wonderful epic, but in that respect, I don't think it will quite work. Without my prior knowledge of the story, I fear I would have been a bit lost at times in trying to follow this version, not least because so many characters were bearded men it was hard to tell them apart until reading enough of the dialogue made it clearer. There were some nice bits of artwork here and there, particularly on the larger panels, but some panels were really hard to "read". There were so dark and with such unclear lines, I often had to study the image for a while before I could make it out, which spoilt the flow of my reading. On the plus size, all the monsters looked cool. I think if you already know the Kalevala well, this would be an interesting adaptation to check out, but if you are new to the story, I think it would be better to start with the more detailed text version. I am giving this book 3.5 stars.

I received this book as a free eBook ARC via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. 

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