Review Blog

Sep 27 2016

Two troll tales from Norway retold by Margrete Lamond

cover image

Ill. by Ingrid Kallick. Christmas Press, 2016. ISBN 9780994234056
(Age: 6+) Norway. Myths and legends. Cautionary tales. Trolls. Two troll stories from Norway are retold in this offering from Christmas Press. Trolls are mischievous beings, not to be trusted and cause a great deal of harm, so people must be on their guard, especially if they can see them.
The first story, 'The little old lady from around the bend', offers us a cautionary tale. The old woman in her youth promises to help a frog should he need it, but he turns out to be a troll and she is asked to come to his house to help his wife in labour. He promises riches but she is not allowed to use it, or talk about it. When the troll baby is born she is told to put salve on its eyes which she does, applying some to one of her eyes as well. This allows her to see the troll steal from the village shop and once the troll realises this, the woman is struck blind in that eye and her riches disappear. Never trust a troll.
The second story, 'The golden ball of yarn', has a similar thread of trust and deception. A woodfeller retrieves a ball of yarn which has rolled near his feet. Despite thinking the girl may be a troll, a huldra, he gives it to her. She leads him into a golden place but when he wakes his friends tell him he has not moved all night. When his wife brings his lunch in the meadows, he is suspicious knowing that sometimes a huldra replaces a wife, luring men away. He notices she has a tail and chops it off, so sending her away. He and his wife then take a ship to somewhere the huldra cannot find them.
Both stories offer an alternative myth to those usually read in class. They tell of a different culture and certainly an unusual set of nasty beings. These could be compared with other cautionary tales in other cultures.
As these are stories about trolls, I was surprised that the decorative cover of this handsomely designed book did not reflect something more of the creatures inside.
That aside it will find a place in a library which offers myths and legends as a study.
Fran Knight

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