This is one of those books that I knew was out there, but had no major drive to pick up. It was sitting in my library ebook collection and I figured why not. Time ticked down and I had to pick it up to read. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I knew the cover and the author, even the genre, but I had no idea what this book was about. Turns out it’s about trolls, but not the kind of trolls I’ve always known. These are attractive human like trolls.
At first glance, one might think, “Cool, Hocking is subverting our expectations on what we expect from trolls.” That would have been awesome. Instead we get these glamorized people who reminded me more of a dwarf than a troll. The vast majority of their defining traits were ones that you’d generally associate with a drwaf with a troll label slapped on top. It just didn’t work for me and I wished there was a better term because I don’t believe that this race of people are trolls.
That said, the society of the trolls was rather interesting. There are different tribes and each has their own unique society and personal traits. One of the interesting elements was that each tribe had their own unique ability. None of the tribes were keen on their people mixing which made the MC who was one of those who was mixed subject to more scrutiny and judgment that she should have been. Learning about this world was interesting even if I could believe that there were so many of them living completely unnoticed in Canada. It was a lot of people in established villages. It just seemed a bit much to go ignored.
The main character Bryn is determined. However, what I like about her is how full she is with logical contradictions. On one hand she walks through life with a massive chip on her shoulder. She is not a happy person and life has not always been kind to her, so it makes sense. She’s quick to anger and can often be bitter when pushed. Yet despite her inner rage and frustration is someone who looks for hope and the best in people. In many ways it’s this positive outlook that drives Bryn to be such a curmudgeon. I enjoyed spending time with her character because she felt relatable.
I have to mention the men in her life. Other than her father who she loves dearly, but can be cold toward are her Rektor (like her boss), Ridley, and her former idol, Konstantin. The two men largely shape her actions throughout the book. With Konstantin it’s her drive to stop him and find out the real reason behind his actions, when in her every encounter with him he seems remorseful and forlorn. While Ridley is stirring her emotions and giving her orders on what she can and can’t do for her job. Both characters in their own right are interesting.
The plot solid, but plods along rather slowly. You’re given more character development than progression towards Bryn’s end goal. That’s not to say that there aren’t plenty of plot events to sink your teeth into. Just thinking back on it there are only a few that stand out as truly important to the plot of the series as a whole. In fact, this book didn’t feelt like it had a solid single book arc. The problem that began in the book was in no way resolved. That can be frustrating with series. Structurally, that is a problem with the story as the pacing felt off at times.
At the end of the day, I did enjoy this book and the things it presented. It is the mystery element of what exactly is going on that is pushing me forward. I’m also intrigued by how Bryn will handle her personal relationships. So this book did what it needed to, it made me want to read the next book. That said, it wasn’t one that makes me feel like I need to rush out and recommend it to everyone. It was enjoyable.