Like, I knew this was a portal fantasy of two exes navigating the multiverse that opens up in an IKEA-style store, but the blurb and the cover especially did not prepare me for the excellent hijinks that ensued! I’m also a bit ashamed to admit that I really want to go visit IKEA again after reading this. Their food is just so good, y’all!
Ava works a soul-killing retail job in a big box store like IKEA, only worse, called LitenVärld. She’s finessed her schedule such that she can avoid working the same shifts as her ex, Jules, but a last-minute call-out means she has to go in to cover a co-worker’s shift and, unfortunately, run into Jules in the process. As if that isn’t bad enough, an elderly customer goes missing while browsing the store, and she and Jules are forced to team up to find her. Trouble is, the customer seems to have gone through a wormhole into another dimension, and while Jules seems happy enough to follow, Ava has to be voluntold by a manager who seems weirdly unsurprised by the entire deal. Said manager shows them a brief instructional video before handing them a FINNA machine to help track and retrieve the lost customer, then off they go!
As Ava and Jules pass through several dimensions that all vaguely mimic the LitenVärld they’re most familiar with — some in more horrifying ways than others — they’re forced to examine their relationship, its demise and how they and their own personality flaws contributed to that end. IKEA on a good day is a stress test for many couples: imagine going through that when you’ve just broken up, and with life-and-death stakes and creatures out of nightmare! Add to that the corporate/capitalist hellscape that is our heroes’ real lives, and you have a terrific horror-filled satire that still touches thoughtfully and sensitively on determination and the optimism of possibility.
Nino Cipri has written a real page-turner that also deals with issues of transness and identity, and how working American retail in its current incarnation just adds to the degradation of the human soul. It’s currently my front-runner for the Hugo for Best Novella, tho I do still have two more nominees left to review here!
Finna (LitenVerse #1) by Nino Cipri was published February 25 2020 by tordotcom and is available from all good booksellers, including