Troll Fell by Katherine Langrish (2004)
Part one of the Troll trilogy
This is a story about someone who has to be brave and clever and resourceful. It's about Peer Ulfsson, who has to be brave when his beloved father dies and his hideous uncles take him to live with them in their dilapidated mill near Troll Fell. He has be clever when he discovers their wicked plot to sell him and his new friend, Hilde, into servitude to the dreadful Troll King. And he has to be resourceful to outwit not only his uncles, but also the trolls, in their own lair.
Of course, Peer can't and doesn't do it all alone. He has his faithful dog, Loki, who follows him into misery and hunger, and helps him out of it. He has his new friend, Hilde, who lives close by. And he has the nis, the house spirit, much like Dobby in Harry Potter.
But the thing about being brave and clever and resourceful is that you usually have to do it when you're not feeling your best. Poor Peer is dragged away from his father's funeral pyre, and the village on the edge of the fjord where he has lived all his life, and all the people he has ever known:
A huge man lumbered into the circle of firelight, a sort of black haystack with thick groping arms. His scowling face shone red in the firelight as he elbowed rudely through the crowd. People turned, scattering. A mutter of alarm ran around the gathering.
Shoving forwards, the stranger ramped right up to the pyre and turned, his boots carelessly planted among the glowing ashes. Now he was a black giant against the flames. Everyone stared in uneasy silence. What did he want?
He spoke in a high, cracked voice, shrill as a whistle. 'I've come for the boy. Which is Ulf's on?'
His uncles make him work long and hard, and they don't give him enough to eat, and they don't let him go out and make friends among his new neighbours. Peer's spirit is being crushed out of him. And only when things look really, really, really bad, does Peer look round and see what needs to be done.
Well, he can either nip off and save himself, or he can go back and try to help. What would you do?
I loved this book. I thought I could guess what was going to happen, but I couldn't. I loved all the characters, good and bad, real and magical. And I loved the place where it all happens - somewhere rather Viking between the fjord and the felltop. Highly recommended!
What can I read next?
This is the first book by Katherine Langrish, so let's hope she writes some more very soon.
If you really enjoy Viking stories of dark magic, you might like to look at the Snow-Walker Trilogy by Catherine Fisher:
Of course, trolls can turn up anywhere. Have a look at this one by J R R Tolkien:
Or, for lighter reading, have a look at the Artemis Fowl adventures by Eoin Colfer:
Also, the Bookchooser has found these books with a similar profile:
- Candlefasts by William Mayne (Score: 93%)
- A Handful of Magic by Stephen Elboz (Score: 93%)
- The Ropemaker by Peter Dickinson (Score: 96%)
- The Spiderwick Chronicles: The Seeing Stone by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi (Score: 96%)
- Power of Three by Diana Wynne Jones (Score: 93%)
Troll Fell features in these lists: