Grim Gruesome, Viking Villain: Trolls’ Treasure by Rosalind Kerven. Published by Talking Stone, £5.99
Trolls’ Treasure is the third outing for Rosalind Kerven’s villainous child-catcher Grim Gruesome, but it was my first encounter and he’s left a rather dreadful pus-scented impression with me! The impression may be long lasting but dreadful this book is not!
Set in Orkney and, latterly, Shetland 1,000 years ago, we meet Ragi Haraldson. Ragi’s a bit of a loner who is saved by a (seemingly) simple-minded, masked pedlar.
The pedlar is keen on finding some treasure in a troll mound and he twists Ragi’s arm to ensnare two young girls – Unn and Kadlin – who are small enough to crawl into the mouth of the mound. But Ragi is accused of luring them by magical poem and is brought up in front of the mighty Jarl Thorfinn Skull-Splitter.
When Ragi fails to complete his punishment ordeal he is made an outlaw of the North Lands. The only person Ragi can turn to is the swindling pedlar – whose character turns meaner and fouler in every chapter – and he will only help Ragi if he succeeds in luring Unn and Kadlin.
It is only when Ragi has succeeded in bringing the girls to the pedlar that Unn realises who the masked man really is … he is the man their parents have told scary bedtime stories about, he is the battle-scarred and truly wicked Grim Gruesome, Viking villain!
Will Ragi, Unn and Kadlin manage to escape his evil clutches? Well I’m not going to spoil it for you!
The language in the book is reminiscent of Roald Dahl in places, with great exclamations of “Dwarves Spit!” and “Farting Giantesses” which will amuse children and adults. She also includes some of the real historical facts in the back of the book, including a little bit about the real Jarl Thorfinn, aka The Skull Splitter.
Kerven’s descriptions are ex-tremely visual and sensory. Some stay with you long after you’ve closed the book, such as Grim’s poison black saliva and his blackened stump of a finger, which frequently “oozes out a thick bubble of yellow pus” (note: don’t make the same mistake as me and read this book while eating a coronation chicken panini – or anything else for that matter).
This book would have wide appeal for readers from aged seven and up, but younger readers would probably love hearing the story read to them. I think readers too young yet for a series like Harry Potter will get a giant-sized shove in the right direction with the Grim Gruesome books and although the books form a series each book can be read as a stand-alone story.
Trolls’ Treasure is a truly rip-roarious adventure book, full of vikings, trolls, mischief and peril on the high seas.
The book is set out in short chapters – perfect for bedtime reading – and each ends with a great Jackanory-esque cliff-hanger. I can’t wait to read more.
• The other two Grim Gruesome titles, also published by Talking Stone, are The Cursed Sword and The Queen’s Poison and are priced £5.99.