Bryn Aven lives in Kanin, a kingdom that’s part of the five lands of the Troll race. The Kanin have the ability to blend into their surroundings, the Skojare are aquatic most are born with gills, the Vittra are unnaturally strong, the Trylle have psychokinetic powers, and the Omete use persuasion. The Kanin are reliant on changelings to bring in their income. Families put their child in place of another for a rich family to raise. That’s where trackers come into play. Trackers find the changelings when they are 18 and bring them back to their real parents. Being a tracker herself, it’s Bryn’s job to escort changelings back to Kanin and guide them through their new life as Kanin citizens.
Bryn is a half-blood, a mix of Skojare and Kanin, and is considered second class by society. However, she is determined to become part of the Hogdragen, the King’s elite guard. After attacks on the changelings the kingdom so depends on, Bryn and her boss, Ridley Dresden, find that the person after the changelings is Konstantin Black, the man that tried to kill Bryn’s father a few years back. Bryn has to find out why Konstantin is taking changelings, while also confronting her feelings for Ridley. In solving the mystery, Bryn becomes unsure of Konstantin’s intentions and wonders if Konstantin is not the man she and the Kingdom thinks him to be. Readers will find Bryn’s struggle to understand the people around her, and her desire to do the right thing relatable. The Kingdom of Kanin and other Troll houses, along with the mystery of the changelings will keep readers wanting to know what happens next.
Hocking expands on the troll world created in her Trylle Trilogy with this book, the first in her new series. While those books focused on the Trylle race this series focuses on the Kanin.
Bryn’s thoughts still keep the reader engaged, but the relationship between Bryn and Ridley takes up too much of the plot. Hocking creates a relatable character in Bryn, who questions everything she has be taught. She is down to earth, intelligent, and relatable. While Bryn’s perspective keeps the reader interested, Hocking spends too much time on Bryn’s conflicting feelings about Ridley. Over the course of the novel, she learns about who she really is, but still questions what she wants in life.
Ridley’s character isn’t as well developed as Bryn. The reader only gets a slight glimpse of who he really is. Hocking tried to show depth in Ridley, but he was very guarded throughout the novel. He is a flat character with very little personality. We learn nothing of his past, family, friends, or hobbies outside of his career. He shows interest in Byrn, but is in a relationship with another girl. Ridley assists Bryn in solving the mystery, but there is no growth or change in him by the end of the book. If the sub-plot really is romance, then both characters should develop together.
In the beginning of the novel, Hocking wants the reader to think of Konstantin as a cruel antagonist. However, as we get more glimpses of him throughout the story, the perspective changes. Konstantin is a complicated character, and the reader will follow Bryn in her confusion to figure out who he really is. Is Konstantin really the villain in the story, or is he a good guy loyal to an unworthy leader? His character was more developed then Ridley, and was unexpectedly more interesting.
“There is no denying that Amanda Hocking knows how to tell a good story and keep readers coming back for more. More is exactly what they will be looking for once they’ve turned the last page.”
“Hocking hits all the commercial high notes. . . . She knows how to keep readers turning the pages.”
-The New York Times Book Review
This book would do well in a discussion group. Readers could discuss Bryn and Ridley’s relationship, and Bryn’s feelings towards her job. Should she be so focused on her work, or should she make room for her personal life? Hocking’s depiction of trolls are different than other authors. How do the trolls in Hocking’s work differ from other fiction and fairy tale books? Groups could also talk about Konstantin and what they believe he is really after.
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Reviewed by S. Brown (High School Student)