Thursday, March 8, 2018

Review: Troll by Ashley C. Harris

Troll, #1
by Ashley C. Harris
YA Fantasy/Paranormal
484 pages

At the age of sixteen, Abby is undergoing major household changes. Her mom is getting ready to remarry and her new step-brother is driving her insane. She is just trying to keep herself busy with school and her part-time job when a most deliciously handsome stranger moves to her little seaside town and won't leave her alone.

New arrival Wilhelm is unlike any other student at Abby’s school. His emerald eyes and tattooed body don’t truly reveal what he really is: a creature emerged from thousands of miles underground, seeking revenge, treasure, and a key that once belonged to an old enemy – a key Abby wears suspended from a chain around her neck. Why she has it is a mystery that Wilhelm will need to solve, and fast, in order to defeat a powerful mortal adversary.

As an attraction between Abby and Wilhelm develops, more creatures like Wilhelm are drawn from beneath the ground to Abby’s town; wreaking havoc as they offer Abby’s classmates the fulfillment of their deepest desires. Will Abby and her new family survive as a game of magical warfare is unleashed? Her ability to reverse Wilhelm’s bargain depends on it.


Taking the nightmare version of a troll and wrapping it in stunning magic, this is an exciting tale of a girl who suddenly finds herself in the middle of a war, where neither side can be considered noble or good.

Abby is sixteen and is still dealing with the fall-out from when her best friend and cousin disappeared several years before. It doesn't help that her father died and her mother is about to marry a new man and his irritating, younger son. But family life is soon not the only problem she has. Strange things start happening with havoc and disaster following in their wake. The new guy at school, Will, adds to the commotion and won't leave her alone. As her future, little brother rambles on about monsters following him, and odd happenings mount, Abby realizes there's something going on, and whatever it is, it's more than dangerous.

The first chapter starts out as a back-flash to the time when Abby's best friend and cousin disappeared, and then flips forward to when she's sixteen. While the first chapter is grabbing, it was awkward at the same time, and the flip, although noted at the chapter beginning, confused. The writing comes across very middle grade, at first, and the characters, especially Abby even after the advancement to her sixteen year old self, childish. It frustrated enough that I almost set the book down, but after reading all of the 5-star reviews, decided to hang in a little longer and give it a chance.

I'm glad I did.

After this first section, the story and Abby mature, and a multi-layered, rich fantasy tale develops into a full swing adventure. Abby has tons of potential for character development, some of which she covers in this first book, but there's tons of promise still for the rest of the series. While this first installment sets up the ground work for her character and begins to unfold her into a true heroine sometime in the future, the plot dives into an amazing amount of world building, allowing the factions and other characters to come out with full power. While Abby is the main focus of the book, it's told from around half a dozen different points of view, which is never confusing and gives the layers of intrigue and secrets tons of depth.

Action and fantasy warfare are key in this tale as it takes place in the shadows of a very modern day world. The author does a terrific job at setting up the true nightmare creature of a troll and letting them stalk humans with cunning and grace, while still opening up their entire culture and existence with something which nears sympathy. It's an interesting play of evil with a touch of humanity, which draws in just enough to appreciate the trolls, while still recognizing the horribleness of their actions.

Will is character with many faces, sides and inner battles, and probably the more interesting of the characters in this book. His secrets are gold worth, even the ones he's not aware of himself. He's a complete hero and a tricky villain all rolled up into one—and his own inner conflict is what makes him shine. 

There's a type of romance going on, but it's not an easy game. Even in this area, the author keeps deception, lies, true loyalties and cunning thickly embedded and intertwined with budding feelings, which dance along with teenage uncertainty but hold promise for much more to come. It keeps the reader guessing yet knowing and hoping.

To say it's a cliff-hanger ending is an understatement. While some big secrets are uncovered, Abby—as so often in the novel—is left with a foggy memory at best. Very few, if any, strings are tied. Instead, Abby is left in the face of a new, seemingly huge, step of her journey. 

But I'll definitely keep reading. While the writing itself sometimes stumbles, the plot is extremely well laid. The factions are so well developed, Will is such an interesting character, and Abby carries so much potential that it's hard not to want to see where all of this will go next.

All about. . .
(Taken from Goodreads:

Author and film director Ashley C. Harris resides in Florida. Ashley was first recognized for her edgy writing and unique film work when she wrote and directed the teenage film “Lines.” Lines was the first feature film in the world captured using only Mac Laptops.

In 2013 she released the first in a new young adult novel series, “Shock Me.” Ashley then went on to author seventeen other titles, as she also worked behind-the-scenes on a morning and evening news show that aired on ABC.

In 2014, four of Ashley’s books landed on the Amazon's Bestselling Top-Ten-List. In 2015, she received her first publishing deal for “Troll,” a KindleScout novel winner. By 2017 she became a USA Today and International bestselling author.

When Ashley is not dreaming up new manuscripts and working on film sets, she loves spending time with her family, obsessing about biblical mysteries, and watching lots of Doctor Who and Game of Thrones. Keep an eye out for her newest releases!

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