Fighting monsters is hard work. Fighting them within yourself is even harder. Astri Ingebrigtsen is animal handler turned troll hunter, working in government secrecy with other elite team members to rid the countryside of these not-so-mythical, mythical troublemakers. Big, ugly and dangerous, trolls come in various breeds and sizes, and when a rampaging mountain troll eludes them, expert researcher Kai Amundsen is enlisted to help. In blocking out the horrific details of her work, Astri’s dreamscape has been wiped clean leaving her nights a black expanse of unconsciousness. Handsome Kai kickstarts her dreams and her libido when they are stranded together in a remote area, facing the murderous beast unequipped and unprepared.
Wow, there is so much potential here, I was sorry to read such a short work! Scandinavian folklore is so rich, this story could expand into volumes to fully develop and explore not only the creatures but the characters as well. When I visited Norway some years ago, it appeared the country loved its Trolls; figurines, paintings and dolls were everywhere in every shop, it seemed. Ms Davenports’ portrayal of them as dangerous predators was both disturbing and fascinating…suggesting even a bit of government conspiracy and deception at work; and who doesn’t love a good conspiracy theory?
The lengthy and musically-related title (“Hall of the Mountain King” by Edvard Grieg) created an expectation of something more grand, but the story’s short length made it a bit disappointing and hard to ‘get into’ the characters. It made the love scenes less satisfying when they did occur, and no real build-up to them beforehand. That said, the brief scenes between Astri and Kai were camp-stove hot!
Interestingly, in this same small timeframe, Davenport manages to create a colorful cast of supporting characters. The jealous heavy, the unflappable team leader, the spunky comrade-in-arms all beg to be explored further. There is great dialogue between them all – something I love to find in a story. The writing style bordered on brilliant at times, stumbling at others. I look forward to reading this author’s next (and hopefully longer) works!