Trollhunters written by Guillermo Del Toro and Daniel Kraus, illustrated by Sean Murray (Allen and Unwin) PB RRP $16.99
Reviewed by Daniela Andrews
‘There are times when you have to do the right thing, no matter how scary.’
Meet Jim Sturges Junior – high school outcast by day, brave ‘Trollhunter’ by night. Jim lives with his dad, a terrified, overprotective man who has been that way since his big brother went missing 45 years earlier. His extreme anxiety and strange behaviour doesn’t exactly help Jim in the popularity stakes at school, where he struggles with bullying, unrequited love and being athletically inept. At least he has a best friend, ‘Tubby’ … though their friendship is about to be tested.
Jim’s Uncle Jack had been the last of 190 kids to go missing in the ‘Milk Carton Epidemic’ 45 years earlier, and things have been pretty quiet in San Bernardino, California, ever since … until children start to go missing once more. It turns out the Sturges’ family name is connected with a long history of troll hunting, and Jim is going to learn his destiny the hard way – by encountering a troll in the flesh.
This fantasy adventure story is targeted to kids aged 12–18, and will likely appeal to fans of Derek Landy’s Skulduggery Pleasant books. Even readers who don’t normally read fantasy will find elements of the story to relate to, given it’s grounded in a realistic high-school setting. The novel can be rather gory – there are detailed descriptions of human flesh being eaten, and internal organs spurting – but I found the gruesome scenes were often pleasantly offset with some extremely amusing writing! (This book also has, hands down, the best tirade of back-to-back Scottish insults in a single paragraph that I have ever come across!)
The novel has been written by an award-winning duo – well-known director, Guillermo del Toro, and Daniel Kraus, author of several fantasy novels. There are a handful of full-page black and white illustrations also, rich in detailed linework, by Sean Murray. The book is the inspiration behind the Netflix ‘Trollhunters’ series by DreamWorks.