The Kingdom of Trolls
Rae St. Clair Bridgman
Friesen Press (2023)
Reviewed by Lily Andrews for Reader Views (05/2023)
“The Kingdom of Trolls” is a dramatic and punchy fantasy novel written by award-winning author, Rae St Clair Bridgman and the fourth book in her acclaimed Middlegate series. Inspired by the author’s visits to Iceland and the desire to capture the sights, sounds, tastes, and smells of this beautiful land of ice and fire, the book follows William Wychwood and his cousin Sophie Isidor. William and Sophie were both orphaned at a young age and now live with their aunts, Violet and Rue. When Aunt Violet lands on an all-inclusive fabulous trip with a provision of four slots to Iceland from Perfect Products, Sophie and Will are reluctant to go after receiving skewed information from an explorer, Vitellus Albumen.
However, upon thorough research with their friends at the library, they change their minds and anticipate the coming trip. A series of events such as the imprisonment of Will’s old friend, Mr. Bertram, and the hospitalization of their neighbor Mrs. Oleander dishearten them for a while but eventually, they set off for the trip with their outlandish fortune-telling aunt. Meanwhile, the Serpent’s Chain, a mysterious secret society, will leave no stone unturned to reclaim Will’s black medallion, something he carries along with him. With danger lurking in the shadows, the cousins realize that they will have to fight for their lives as they seek to discover the mystery behind the Chain, discovering the unlikely link between it and Iceland.
Author Bridgman’s compelling work is genre-arching in all the right ways. With remarkable prose and lyrical language, the story carries you afloat from the first chapter. Its artfully quiet beginning soars to an epic finish, preparing us for the next volume in the series. Effective emotional hasps and well-imagined scene-setting prove to enthrall and underpin the plot, while exhaustive research about Iceland’s history and mythology brings out the yearning to travel in readers. The appendix and glossary provided in this text serve their true purpose justifiably and the inclusiveness of the troll dialogue in some pages, although somewhat complex, brings out the originality and plausibility of the storyline.
“The Kingdom of Trolls” is certainly a five-star triumph by an accomplished author. If you are looking for a twisty and well-written fantasy novel, then this may be the next read for you.
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