The Raven-Headed

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A sturdy beak like a massive, black claw. A pitch-black eye reflecting the pale light of the moon. At times, the milky white, inner eyelid slides over the pupil and, for a while, the creature looks blind. Its shadow glides soundlessly along the dusty corridors of the deserted house, hooked fingers grope the air like a spider weaving its web. The raven-headed man preys in the night. He sneaks into dreams and mutates into a huge bird: shiny, black wings flutter loudly; a squawk resounds through the quiet night; the claws cut the air like sickles …

I still dream of the Raven-Headed Man. In the beginning, though, that horror wasn’t my nightmare. It crept into my dreams after I had accepted the assignment of the little girl, Emi, and saw the creature for the first time.

It was the year 2012, two years after the incidents of Dreamland. I had solved a couple of minor cases prior to this one, yet the fate of Aana was still pressing heavily on my mind and I was feeling restless and uneasy. However, I couldn’t possibly refuse this new assignment, since Emi was so small and so endearing, and the Raven-Headed Man seemed too horrible a monster to be the concern of such a little girl. In the end, I didn’t really have a choice.

In Emi’s world, the summer was coming to an end. Nights were black and the moon bright and high in the sky. In the daytime, the narrow wooden houses shone in the sunshine like candies in Mr. Crook’s glass jars. The trees in the park were a tired green and the sound of Emi’s father’s violin streamed from the window, thick and dark as honey. Yet at night… the Raven-Headed Man preyed on children in the moonlight and Emi stayed awake by her window and shivered from fear.

As it happened, the essential part of Emi’s case came to be the Birdhealer’s Hut. The place was inconceivable; I saw there more birds than ever before in my life!  The sounds of winged creatures formed such a great cacophony that talking in the yard was simply impossible. Yet inside the hut, all the sounds were muffled in the most pequliar way and the place appeared to be a genuine haven of peace.

Wise from my previous travels, I had a camera with me. Unfortunately, taking photos of the birds was prohibited. I managed to snap a couple of photos of the deserted house, though – the one where the Raven-Headed Man kept his prisoners. You can imagine my spine-tingling excitement when the monster sneaked past me in the dusty corridor and the pale moon cast its stabbing shadows in the gloom!

Unfortunately, I can’t share the details but I can reveal that the case was concerned with gathering  evidence against the Raven-Headed Man, in which I succeeded after some time. When my assignment was over and the case solved, I stayed for a while longer. Together with Emi, I wandered in and out of the small shops of the tiny village and made some genuine discoveries in a charming Card Boutique! I, on the other hand, was greatly inspired by the Birdhealer’s Hut and you can view my creations here.

In the year 2013, with the permission of Emi’s parents and the girl herself, I made a book of Emi’s story. It was published by Karisto and recieved excellent reviews for its insightful depiction of a difficult and daring subject. The illustrations of the book, in turn, were nominated in the Biennial of Bratislava in 2015.

Some readers told me later that the book was far too scary, others were of the opinion that the story worked in a therapeutic manner. Emi stated frankly that the book was ”horribly beautiful, yet not dreadful enough”. (Unfortunately, this book was never translated into English. The Finnish version can be found in the libraries in Finland.)

When it comes to the protagonists of the story, it is my understanding that Mr. Crook still serves his sentence in prison and Emi, in turn, has her ups and downs. She has continued her therapy with the Birdhealer. I have noticed that she is a resiliant and optimistic child so I believe that, in due time, she’ll get over her dreadful past. We write every now and then and, according to the latest news, she has started to plan her own book about the ordeal!