This book lead Hocking to eventually become a self-published millionaire, later contracted by MacMillan for just as much money. Am I surprised by this? Yeah, kind of. Don’t get me wrong; the book is good, but I can’t quite believe its fan base.
On the downside, while there aren’t the grammatical errors that most self-published authors make frequently, there are lots and lots of telling rather than showing moments that left me feeling detached from the book. I don’t want to be told what Wendy is feeling — I want to feel it. Also, the love story is not uncharted territory. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but the aloof, forbidden lover is done so frequently that it needs something special to make it stand out, to make it deeper. Finn and Wendy’s romance just wasn’t very compelling for that reason.
On the upside, the premise is unique. I have never heard of any other urban fantasy novel that deals with trolls, so kudos to Hocking for making this, at least, uncharted territory. There isn’t much action until the end, and it’s hard to feel like the conflict is high-stakes when those in danger are not easy to feel sorry for (they steal indirectly to gain their wealth and don’t work at all). However, there is the sense that the plot is building, and there are a few sympathetic characters, Wendy included.
Although there is a bit of teen drama throughout this, Wendy is realistic about her personality — she knows her flaws and she tries to be kind to others. When it comes to her poor behavior (part of her troll nature), she does not paint it as a reaction of her own victimization; she sees others as victims of her behavior. That is both refreshing and admirable, especially in the YA world of whiny heroines.
I feel like Hocking could have built on the troll mythology a bit more, but she succeeded in building the world of the Trylle and creating unique powers for each of them. Plus, there are characters that are on all different sides with their own motives and hindrances. There isn’t just a spectrum of good and evil, which I applaud.
The suspense is done well throughout the story, too, especially for an author who might not have had a professional editor. And that ending! Definitely not what I expected. Initially, I was really excited to read the sequels, but I gradually lost interest and I won’t be continuing the series.