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Literature / Unimaa

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Unimaa (pronounced "OO-nee-mah") is a 2022 Amazon-published novelette (originally released as a Web Serial Novel in late 2021) by George Coryell (aka Icy Crow), author of Kasia, with illustrations in the full version done by Bridget Lovejoy.

The first chapter of the story revolves around one Eino Jokinen, a 12-year-old Farm Boy from the fictional country of Vasa (a stand-in for Finland) at the end of The Gay '90s, who finds his consciousness in the titular realm of Unimaa after being knocked out by a falling apple in his farm's orchard while doing chores his older brothers should have been doing. After he arrives there, he meets Princess Frida, a benevolent-looking spirit who recruits him to rule alongside her and help her find more "friends", then uses a black orb to take away his ability to wake up, which kills him a few days later in the real world. The rest of the story is set largely during one weekend around the very end of The '90s a hundred years after Eino's death and revolves largely around three siblings from Vasa: Lumi Laine, an eight-year-old girl, her seven-year-old brother Sami, and their four-year-old brother Mika, a friendless preschooler who feels unappreciated by his two older siblings and his parents. When Mika is asleep that Friday night after a misunderstanding over his siblings not wanting to play with him that afternoon, he finds himself in Unimaa and makes a deal with Frida to join her and Eino's society known as "Frida's Friends Club" at the cost of not being able to return home. When Lumi and Sami figure out what's going on, they become determined to find a way to bring back their brother from the subconscious and make up with him before it's too late.

A sample of the first two chapters (out of eight total) can be read on Coryell's website here, a Vanilla Edition print copy can be purchased here, and a standard edition copy can be purchased here.

This story contains examples of the following tropes:

  • All Just a Dream: The reader knows it's all just a dream right away.
  • Aloof Big Brother: Lumi and Sami are perceived as this by Mika at first. This is one of the factors that influences Mika's decision to stay in Unimaa.
  • Amazing Technicolor Population: Queen Helmi has light blue skin, in addition to pink hair.
  • And I Must Scream: It's revealed that Queen Helmi, the true ruler of Unimaa, has been trapped in a dungeon cell for about five hundred years while being immortal.
    • Also, the members of Frida's Friends Club have been trapped there for many years (with Brady, presumably the newest member before Mika joined, having been there for at least 12 years since 1987), unable to escape by any means except if the Black Orb were destroyed.
  • And the Adventure Continues: Lumi, Sami, and Mika go to sleep the following night, eager to have more adventures in the subconscious - Mika in Unimaa now that Frida's reign is over, and Lumi and Sami discovering new worlds.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: When Eino is asked to consider why literally every child in Unimaa is wearing pajamas, this makes him remember the apple that fell on his head and knocked him out, which makes him truly realize he had been unconscious the whole time and Frida tricked him into giving her his soul - compounded by the fact that Lumi had more-or-less told him that he had been dead for 100 years.
  • Artifact of Doom: The Black Orb, Frida's source of power and source of life.
  • Asleep for Days: Mika was asleep for two nights, and the members of Frida's Friends Club had been asleep (and dead) for over 10 years.
  • Beautiful Void: Pretty much all of Unimaa outside of the area around Frida's castle remains uninhabited, even 100 years later. There's a reason for that.
  • Bilingual Bonus: "Unimaa" roughly means "dream land" in Finnish.
    • Also, Frida's magic words to use the Black Orb are "semper felix", which is Latin for "always happy".
  • Boarding School of Horrors: The appendix says this is why Winston joined Frida's Friends Club.
  • Breakfast Club: Frida's Friends Club is essentially this, in that everyone in it was friendless before they joined.
  • Brother–Sister Team: Lumi and Sami, though not in that order.
  • Chekhov's Gun: A mild example: Mika drops his teddy bear Kimmo while he's in Unimaa, and Sami retrieving it and showing it to Mika while the former is briefly there makes the latter realize he's in danger when he tries (and fails) to wake up.
  • Closed Door Rapport: The morning after Mika decides to stay in Unimaa via the Black Orb, Lumi and Sami decide to make amends with him, but get no response from the other side of his bedroom door. When they discover he's in a deep sleep (and mutters Eino and Frida's names), this prompts them to find their way into Unimaa that night to rescue him.
  • Coconut Meets Cranium: The apple variant is Played for Drama, as it knocks Eino out.
  • Companion Cube: Kimmo, Mika's blue teddy bear.
  • Counting to Potato: Mika does this in a way when he's playing hide-and-seek in Unimaa:
    Mika: Twenty-twenty-twenty-twenty-eighteen...
    Eino: Ninety-eight.
    Mika: Twenty-twenty-twenty-twenty-nineteen...
    Eino: Ninety-nine. And the next number is...
    Mika: One hundred!
  • Crapsaccharine World: Unimaa is essentially this - it may seem like a Sugar Bowl at first glance, but it's certainly not all it's cracked up to be with Frida in power. Subverted in that once Frida is removed from power, however, it's on track to returning to what it used to be: a place for children to unwind while they sleep.
  • Damsel in Distress: Queen Helmi.
  • Dead to Begin With: Eino, and every member of Frida's Friends Club besides Mika.
  • Determinator: After learning the truth about Unimaa from Helmi (and truly realizing that Frida had deceived him), Mika becomes absolutely determined to find Lumi and Sami to help rescue him.
  • Deal with the Devil: Anyone who wants to enjoy Unimaa must make a deal with Frida, which is basically them giving her their soul.
  • Decoy Protagonist: Eino is set up to be the main character of the story based on the blurb on the back of the book and the first chapter focusing on him. By the end of Chapter 1, he's dead, and when we see his consciousness again in Unimaa two chapters later, it's clear that he's become evil - by that point, it's obvious that the three Laine siblings are the real protagonists.
  • Distressed Dude: Mika.
  • Distant Prologue: The story opens in the late 19th century, where we first meet Eino and see how he ended up in Unimaa.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Frida is essentially a kid-friendly succubus.
  • Dream Land: Unimaa itself. Heck, it's Finnish for "dream land"!
  • Dramatic Necklace Removal: Eino does this to Frida to destroy the Black Orb.
  • Embarrassing Damp Sheets: It's mentioned that Lumi wears bedwetting underwear.
  • Exact Words: Frida tells prospective members of her fan club that "all [their] troubles will be over" with the Black Orb.
  • Extremely Short Timespan: Excluding the Distant Prologue in 1899, the story is set over a period of three days and two nights.
  • Face of an Angel, Mind of a Demon: Frida may have a sweet, benevolent appearance per her description, but her true nature is anything but.
  • Farm Boy: Eino was like this in his old life.
  • Foreign Language Title: "Unimaa" is a Finnish word which roughly means "dream land", which makes sense for the story.
  • Foreshadowing: When Sami is chased by the older members of Frida's Friends Club after he first finds his way into Unimaa, the reader may have noticed that Bianca was not mentioned as being among them on their scavenger hunt even though she received a list from Eino earlier. This serves as a hint that she had grown tired of life in Unimaa.
  • Friendless Background: All the members of Frida's Friends Club were like this in their old lives.
  • From Bad to Worse: The third chapter of the book (where Mika makes his deal with Frida after thinking Lumi and Sami hate him) is actually titled this. It's worth noting that George Coryell is One of Us.
  • Girlish Pigtails: Frida is described as having pigtails, probably to give off a sense of childlike innocence à la Harley Quinn.
  • Good Princess, Evil Queen: Exploited by Frida, and thus Inverted.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: Eino, upon truly realizing that he's been dead for a hundred years and that Frida tricked him into giving her his soul, starts muttering "No way out..."
  • Go-to-Sleep Ending: Lumi, Sami, and Mika go to sleep at the end, eager to have more adventures in the subconscious.
  • Happiness Is Mandatory: It's revealed that anyone in Frida's Friends Club who's not particularly happy gets punished.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Eino, while knowing full well that his consciousness won't live on if he does so, destroys the Black Orb in order to kill Frida and allow Unimaa to return to its former self.
  • Hide and No Seek: It's heavily implied that Lumi (probably Sami as well) has done this to Mika every time they've played hide-and-seek. Mika also does this to the members of Frida's Friends Club later on to distract them when he's trying to find Lumi and Sami to help rescue him.
  • The Idiot from Osaka: The appendix in the full version mentions that Jun was from Osaka, Japan, and mentions her being bullied for her "unusual personality" as her reason for joining Frida's Friends Club, implying this trope (although she's more of The Ditz than a typical example, similar to Osaka from Azumanga Daioh).
  • Intro-Only Point of View: In the very beginning of the story, we see Eino and how he started Frida's society with her.
  • Locked in the Dungeon: Queen Helmi has been locked in her own castle's dungeon for about 500 years, while being immortal.
  • Lotus-Eater Machine: Unimaa is essentially this under Frida's rule.
  • Man in the Iron Mask: Queen Helmi.
  • Multinational Team: Frida's Friends Club, according to the appendix in the full version: Winston was from the Home Counties of England, Anya was from Saint Petersburg, Russia, Bianca was from Naples, Italy, Rufus was from Jacksonville, Florida, Gustav was from the north of Freyholt (which is implied to be their universe's equivalent of Sweden)note , Martina was from Stuttgart, Germany, Jun was from Osaka, Japan, Stephanie was from the banlieues of Paris, and Brady was from Boston.
  • Norse by Norsewest: The story is set in Vasa, a country which is implied to be Finland in all but name.
  • Only Sane Woman: Bianca is the only member of Frida's Friends Club who had figured out the whole thing was a sham, but had done nothing about it because she would have been placed in the quiet room permanently if she did. When she realizes that Lumi and Sami know it's a sham as well because they had come to Unimaa to rescue Mika, she asks the younger members of the club if they had grown tired of it like she had (they had, in Martina's words, "been tired of being younger than [the older kids]"), and it's because of her getting the club members to listen to Lumi and Sami that the club members realize Frida's deceptions.
  • Pajama-Clad Hero: Lumi, Sami, and Mika are (at the very least heavily implied to be) in their pajamas whenever they're within Unimaa, as are the members of Frida's Friends Club. Justified, since Unimaa exists within the subconscious. In fact, this trope is how Bianca had figured out that Frida's Friends Club was a sham, since literally every member including herself had come to Unimaa in their pajamas while they were asleep.
  • Peace & Love Incorporated: Frida's Friends Club qualifies.
  • Pink Girl, Blue Boy: The text mentions that Lumi and Sami's pajamas are pink and blue, respectively.
  • The Place
  • Princess Classic: Frida wants you to think she's one of these.
  • Princesses Rule: Frida is the ruler of Unimaa and has the title of "princess". This serves as an early hint that she's not the legitimate ruler of the realm.
  • Protagonist Journey to Villain: Eino's story arc.
  • Rightful King Returns: Queen Helmi, at the end of the story.
  • Rip Van Tinkle: When Mika finally wakes up, the first thing he does is rush to the bathroom.
  • Royal "We": Eino's older brother Matti references it in the opening scene of the book.
  • Rule #1: Eino goes over the list of rules for Frida's Friends Club with Mika:
    1. You do not talk about Frida's Friends Club.
    2. Do not go into that forest over there.
    3. You may be punished with time in the quiet room if you are unruly.
    4. This list of rules is not all-inclusive.
    5. There is no rule number 5.
    6. No talking about Frida's Friends Club.
  • Shared Dream: Unimaa is like this to everyone within it.
  • Shout-Out: Several:
  • Stage Mom: The appendix implies this is the reason why Anya joined Frida's Friends Club, as it mentioned she was forced into a life of ballet.
  • That Nostalgia Show: The story's "present day" is December 1999 (when George Coryell was around Mika's age), as evidenced by the presence of a VCR and dial-up Internet in the Laine household, Lumi and Sami discussing Pokémon Red and Blue, and, most noticeably, Sami mentioning "the new millennium" coming up the next month. A practical reason for the present day being 1999 is that two things existing now would have broken the plot, namely, streaming servicesnote  and Wikipedianote .
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Eino, through befriending Frida, opened the floodgates for more children after him to fall for her deceptions (and possibly more for generations to come were it not for Lumi and Sami).
  • What Year Is This?: Gustav asks this question to everyone upon connecting the dots between the Black Orb, everyone around him wearing pajamas, and all the sweets around him - and everyone gives a vastly different answer (Stephanie says 1975, Martina says 1953, and Brady says 1987), which makes them realize that because none of them have aged a day since those years, they all died in their sleep in those years thanks to the Black Orb.
  • Where the Hell Is Springfield?: The unnamed town in Vasa where the Laine siblings live, though based on the description that it's "near the Arctic Circle", it's most likely based on Rovaniemi, Finland.
  • Would Hurt a Child: If stealing their souls counts as hurting them, Frida definitely qualifies.