Tuesday, July 7, 2015

del Toro and Kraus' Trollhunters brings new life to old stories

Jack Sturges disappeared in September 1969, the 110th child to go missing in San Bernadino’s Milk Carton Epidemic. His brother, Jim, was never the same. 

Forty-five years later fifteen-year-old James Sturges, Jr., or Jim, like his dad, is living with the aftermath of his uncle’s disappearance. His father has become a security nut, locking the house down each night with ten different dead bolts, metal shutters, and an outdoor alarm system. None of it stops the monsters from coming for Jim. The monsters didn’t use the front door or the windows; they ambushed Jim from their lair under his bed. Or, more correctly, from the portal under his bed which led to a cave in the underground troll city. It seems that an evil troll, Gunmar the Black, was responsible for the Milk Carton Epidemic. There was a war, ending with the good trolls and their human paladin fighting off and exiling Gunmar. Gunnar’s wrath and strength have only grown however, and he has begun assembling a new army. The trolls and their paladin, who has never aged, need Jim’s help to defeat Gunmar once and for all. Why Jim? It seems he comes from a long line of warriors. His illustrious lineage includes such warriors as Ragnar, who saved Wales from an invasion of Mugglewumps in 1533, and Rosalind, who accidentally set fire to London in 1666 when she fended off a horde of Irish Batmuggs. And of course Jack, the current paladin, who first defeated Gunmar the Black forty-five years ago. 

This somewhat gory, occasionally violent adventure will be a hit with readers who want their books full of humor and action and light on romance. The well-written, page-turning plot never stops, nor does it turn into standard fairy tale. The characters are intriguing and unique - I especially loved the troll scholar and the best friend who found his inner ninja. The universal themes of friendship and good versus evil are well-developed without being overpowering. All in all, Trollhunters is a great choice for older tweens, be they reluctant readers or avid fans of fantasy and adventure. 

del Toro, Guillermo and Daniel Kraus. Trollhunters. New York: Disney Press, 2015. 4 stars. 

Disclaimer: I received an ARC of this novel from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. The thoughts and opinions expressed in the review are mine alone. 

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