Samuel Blink is the hero of this story, but he doesn’t know it yet. He has no idea a giant log is about to fall from the sky and change his life forever. He hasn’t the slightest clue Martha will disappear into Shadow Forest. A forest full of one-eyed trolls, the sinister huldre-folk, deadly Truth Pixies and a witch who steals shadows.
The blurb, and the cover, had me believing I was in for a Lemony Snicket inspired adventure full of wit and satire, unfortunately, while the style attempts to mimic the dark, casual format of A Series of Unfortunate Events, it just isn’t able to commit. The author blinks in and out of addressing the audience with chatty writing, dipping frequently into traditional third-person story-telling, creating a confusion of styles that don’t sit well together. Just when one is starting to flow, the other will usurp it, and so-on and so-forth throughout the novel. There are two ‘note-from-the-author’ chapters displaced throughout, which are funny, but appear as a hurried after-thought – something to give a chatty vibe, which just isn’t there. Add to this needless pages of script-style writing, and the mix is pretty heavy going.
Over-all the writing is juvenile; Haig info-dumps character descriptions (and repeats those descriptions several times in the space of a few paragraphs), and the dialogue is clumsy and unrealistic. He also breaks the show-not-tell rule throughout. The first chapter is both clever and surprising, but after the initial hook, I found myself struggling to carry on. The plot is a good adventure, once you get about a third of the way in, journeying the enchanted landscape of a magic forest, and is unique in its use of Norwegian folklore. For children this would be a pretty fun and engaging story, but it’s placement in the teen/YA shelves is a little baffling. The jokes are cliché and childish, the characters overstated and shallow. While I did enjoy some of the quirky adults, such as a Norwegian cheese-shop owner, and a two-headed troll, I couldn’t relate to either of the child protagonists.
It’s a fun read, with good-hearted adventure, and a cushy moral undertone. It’s a story to read to young-children before bed.