Petaja returns to his favorite theme…legends of ancient Finland involing the Klevala. The difference this time is the setting is the timber country of present day Western Montana. The town of Hellmouth looks like it’s in a time warp. That could spell trouble for the entire planet.
Dr.Steve McCord is an archelogist. He’s just getting out of the hospital after a plate was put into his head due to a shrapnel wound he got in Vietnam. In the mail he got a tape from his friend and the man who saved his life, Art Mackey.
Art’s girlfriend is ballet dancer Ilma. After a number of minor accidents she left the company and went back to her home town of Hellmouth in Western Montana. Art went after her. Art said Ilma’s farmhouse was abandoned and she and her family are missing. The tape runs out before Steve could get the whole story and he decides to go to Hellmouth.
He has trouble trying to get there. People tell him there is no such place. It was destroyed in a fire in 1906. He has the bus driver drop him off miles away from where the town used to be. It’s a long hike but he finally makes it. He sees the entire town intact from its still working sawmill to various businesses and a schoolhouse.
In a bar the beer gets to him. He forgot that he was warned too much booze combined with the steel plate would have an adverse effect. The people are also hostile against him. They’re all Finns and he’s an outsider.
At a rooming house he sees Ilma out the window in the rain waving goodbye towards a bridge. That’s where her mother drowned a number of years ago. He goes out to see her but she disappears. He goes to her house and sees her father. He has a blue light around him and then disappears.
Finally he runs into Art. He’s living in a cave. Steve discovers that everyone worships Ukko. It’s a star creature that came down to ancient Finland and genetically implanted a belief in him that carried throughout the generations.
Steve is shocked to a bit later finding Art and Ilma dressed in ancient costumes and holding a firm belief in Ukko. Then he finds out why the town is back in 1904 before the fire and exactly what Ukko’s motives are. Steve’s only ally is Yamar, Ilma’s hunchback brother who is totally devoted to her.
This isn’t anything that hasn’t been overdone before. It’s not poorly written so it does hold some entertainment value. It still isn’t something to seek out while there are so many other good books out there.