After reading the first Moomin book by Jansson, The Moomins and the Great Flood for the first time, I’m now rereading the rest of the series in order. This is the first of those. My copy of the book is the original English translation. Jansson revised the book afterward and that new version is now the standard one. I’ll talk about the revisions later in this review. The creations of Tove Jansson are unique fantasy animals in a northern European natural setting that is inspired by her home in Finland and in some cases by the myths and legends of that area. Though they are animals, they act much like humans in many ways, and are sometimes funny, sometimes annoying, but usually charming.
The Moomins: Moominpapa, Moominmama and Moomintroll have been living in their new home in Moomin Valley for a few weeks since the flood when strange signs and portents signal something unusual is coming their way, a huge comet. Moomintroll and his friend Sniff decide to make an expedition to the Lonely Mountains where there is an observatory. They hope the professors there will tell them all about the comet and what it means. Along the way they meet Snufkin, a wanderer who plays the harmonica, and together they get into trouble and are rescued by a Hemulen on a butterfly-collecting trip. Snufkin joins the expedition, and when they reach the observatory, a professor tells them that the comet, which is already growing much brighter and hotter, is going to hit the Earth in a few days. Moomintroll and his friends decide they must hurry back to Moomin Valley to tell everyone and help them prepare. On the way they find the Snork and the Snork Maiden being attacked by a poisonous bush and rescue them. These creatures seem to also be Moomins by their appearance, and Moomintroll is attracted to the Snork Maiden. She and her brother join the expedition, and they all must make a dangerous crossing of the sea-bed, which has been dried up by the looming comet. More adventures follow, and it seems they’ll never get back to Moomin Valley in time.
I think this is probably the most exciting Moomin novel, with its end-of-the-world plot and many thrilling moments. The introduction of new characters that will return in many books of the series helps make it a good starting point even if you haven’t read the first short novel. The relationships between characters is handled well making them fun to follow, and everyone has their moments to make mistakes and to overcome them and shine.
In THIS Wikipedia article you can read about the changes made to the story in the later edition, which I haven’t read. After learning about that, I think I’m just as happy to stick with this one. There’s more danger and more character flaws here, from what I gather.
The Moomin series is fun reading, and this one is highly recommended.