Thursday, June 30, 2016

Winter Reading 2016 Bera the One-Headed Troll

A remote island,  a pumpkin patch, a troll, and...a baby?  What does a troll know about human babies? As it turns out,  the answer is - not much. Bera is a simple troll; she doesn't have multiple heads or gigantic size. But she does grow very nice pumpkins, so nice that she is the king's pumpkin gardener. And while she is harvesting pumpkins one day with the help of her owl, Bera discovers a human baby floating in a cooking pot out in the cove. What follows is a courageous journey to return the baby to a human village where it can grow up among its own kind. (Remember the movie "Willow"? Well, it's a bit like that.) It seems that an evil witch wants the baby and Bera is determined to find a hero to protect it. Along the way she has to fend off vicious mermaids and goblins, consult a ghost, travel uncharted swamps, encounter hedgehog wizards, and always remember to find shelter so that daylight won't turn her to stone. Will Bera, Winslowe, and the baby reach a hero in time, or will the evil Cloote succeed in her plan to turn the baby into a monster?

The illustrations show a barren landscape with stretches of forest and swamp but not many inhabitants. A color palette reminiscent of sepia-tinted photographs adds to the dreariness of the setting. According to the hedgehogs, Cloote (the witch), steals magical items from anyone she come across on her quest to accumulate power and regain a position at the troll king's court. When she first appears, she is in what appears to be a Viking dragon boat, but it can walk on dry land as well as traveling on water. Later she is flying in something similar to Baba Yaga's mortar. One would think that if she has all these powerful artifacts, she wouldn't need a tiny human child still in diapers. But everyone knows that evil sorceresses are never satisfied, right?

Fans of fantasy stories, whether in graphic novel or chapter book format, will enjoy this tale of an individual determined to do the right thing. Readers who enjoyed Maddy Kettle will find this another satisfying tale from Eric Orchard.

I read an e-book provided by the publisher through NetGalley.

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