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Saturday, January 07, 2017

Two Troll Tales From Norway Retold by Margrete Lamond, Ill. by Ingrid Kallick. Armidale NSW: Christmas Press, 2016



Here's another delightful, beautifully-illustrated folktale volume from the amazing Christmas Press.

This time the theme is that Norwegian creature of mischief, the troll. Forget about the Tolkien variety which is a huge, not-too-bright peasant and turns into stone at sunrise. Forget even the Terry Pratchett variety, which has a silicon brain, can live in the city, work in the police force and needs the cold to be smart. 

The trolls in these stories can change shape if they wish and are closer to the Faerie folk than to the big, thick-as-two-planks version in fantasy fiction. They don't even live under bridges. 

The first story, "The Little Old Lady From Around The Bend", is about something that happened in  the old lady's youth. The girl in the story suffers the same fate as those folk in other stories who are silly enough to help out the ungrateful Faerie and then admit to having seen them afterwards. As if that's not bad enough, she doesn't even get to enjoy her official reward for having helped the trolls. 

In the second story, "The Golden Ball Of Yarn", yet again we are made aware of the problems of helping or even being involved with the Faerie. A young woodcutter hands back a ball of golden yarn to  a huldra girl and finds himself controlled by her for some time, till he finally manages to escape to the other side of the world. 

The huldra are Scandinavian critters that can help or punish mortals. The women are beautiful, except they have tails, the men are ugly. 

There is humour in both tales, which are lively and cheerful, though the second story could have been tragic. The author links them to her own family - the girl in the first story was a crazy old lady remembered by her great grandmother from her childhood, while the woodcutter is someone met on the ship  to the other side of the world(presumably Australia) by her grandfather. 

Both give the traditional warning to children: "Don't trust the Faerie folk!"

The artwork is stunningly beautiful and appropriate to the stories told. I especialły liked the first story's frontispiece which shows a young girl going down the hill from her cottage, which sits on top of a pile of rocks shaped like a sleeping old woman.

You can buy this book from the publisher's web site, from Booktopia and the Book Depository, or, if you live in Australia, you can just ask for it at your local bookshop! 

2 comments:

Lexa Cain said...

This sounds wonderful! I miss my childhood books that had wonderful artwork in them. I bet this faerie-focused book had pictures that were a feast for the eyes! Have a great week, Sue!

Sue Bursztynski said...

Plenty of them around, even now, Lexa! Book illustration is as popular as ever.