by Lars Walker
I've never done a book review before, so I'm still figuring out how to do it. First of all, I'll say that I really enjoyed reading "Troll Valley". I'd call it a Christian/American Historical Fiction (turn of the 20th century)/Fantasy book, with a light dusting of horror from time to time (mostly off screen).
When I started the book, the fact that it opened with a character waking up in a strange room with no idea where he was, or how he got there, I almost burst out laughing. That set-up is almost a cliché for a bad slush entry. Fortunately, though, it didn't stop me from reading it.
I enjoyed the fact that the book was unabashedly Christian, though not always in favor of the Church, especially as shown in the narrator's mother.
Another thing that I really enjoyed about the book was the glimpses of magic seen throughout it. The narrator will be talking about some perfectly ordinary happening of the early 20th century, and then suddenly and matter-of-factly go into a vision or some other magical event. He does no magic, but has magic in his blood, which profoundly effects him and his family, even four generations later.
Portions of the book revolve around the narrator's church experience, which starts off well, and gradually deteriorates. But at the climax of the book, some of the characters stop a great evil from being done by quoting Scripture. That was a high point of the story to me.
The low point was the section shortly before that, where we watch the first person narrator gradually turning himself into a world-class jerk, and seeing all his justifications for it.
The main story ends on a sustained note of pure, undeserved grace. I enjoyed it, but it reminded me, that to the world, and on the outside, moments of grace can sometimes be confused with stupidity. It also made me wonder how Bathsheba felt.