Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Troll Fell by Katherine Langrish

Author: Katherine Langrish
ISBN # 0007170718
319 pages
Publisher: Collins
1st Published: 2004

Peer Ulfsson stood miserably at his father's funeral pyre, watching the sparks whirl up like millions of shining spirits streaking away into the dark. But someone else is also at the funeral. Peer's half-uncle, Baldur Grimsson. Peer watches helplessly as Uncle Baldur sells his father's property and pockets the money. Peer is then forced to move away from the world he knows in Hammerhaven, and live with his two half-uncles at their mill near Troll Fell. Peer hopes his other uncle will be more welcoming and less ferocious than Baldur, but Baldur is an identical twin, and Grim Grimsson is just as mean-spirited and greedy as his brother.

Peer lives a life of servitude, with only the company of his faithful dog, Loki, until he meets spirited Hilde, whose family farm on Troll Fell, and Nis, his uncles' house spirit. Between them, they must foil a plot by the Grimsson brothers to sell one boy and one girl to the trolls who live on Troll Fell. But the Grimssons want riches, and they will do anything to get them. And as everyone knows, trolls are rich… but they are also cunning.

Troll Fell is everything that a good children’s book should be; well written, on the level and with a wonderful plot with a basis in traditional folk stories. The characters are well developed and sympathetic (or suitably nasty where they should be) and the atmospherics provide just enough jolt to give a kid a kick whilst still having the reassurance that everything will work out fine in the end.

It’s incredibly easy to read and I suspect this would be true for readers of any age, from 7 to 70 and beyond! I found myself completely immersed in a world where Trolls under the hill are accepted as a part of normal, everyday life; where Granny Greenteeth waits to pull naughty children who wander too near the water under the surface to her lair; where children are expected to pull their weight and help support the family, obey their parent and be respectful towards their elders.

This traditional tale of friendship, adventure and triumph against adversity is a carefully crafted piece of work that will set any child’s heart and mind racing with possibilities.

The sequel, Troll Mill, is also now available in both hardback and paperback.

Rating: 7


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