This action filled conclusion to Amanda Hocking’s Frostfire trilogy opens with Bryn on the lam, falsely accused of treason and murder, and forced to partner with dangerous and puzzling Konstantin Black who she has good reason not to trust. I’m a big fan of Hocking’s richly imagined troll-verse, a world exactly like our own but with the addition of human-resembling trolls based on Scandinavian mythology who love nature, covet gemstones, prefer being barefoot, and live in elaborate out of the way communities, and I’ve enjoyed both earlier books in the series, but Crystal Kingdom is my favorite for several reasons.
First, while Bryn scrambles to stay one step ahead of the trackers sent to apprehend her, readers are taken on a road trip that stretches from the swamps of Louisiana to the snowy northern reaches of Canada as she visits the home settlements of all five of the troll tribes in her quest to save her own community. They’re all trolls, but each group has unique features, abilities, and customs. We’re even taken to an especially remote and icy dumping ground for outcast trolls, where we meet 14-year-old Ulla who has a mixed tribe background–she’s part Omte, the super strong tribe that sometimes includes ogres, and part Skojare, the semi-aquatic tribe. Ulla’s parents were unmarried royals who abandoned her as a baby so she’s working as a maid when Brynn finds her in Iskyla–I’m really hoping to meet Ulla again in a future troll series.
Another reason I loved this book is that several major characters from Hocking’s first troll books, the Trylle series, make major appearances in the story. We had already seen Finn, but now Wendy, plays an important role and it’s wonderful to catch up with her and see how she’s managed the transition from changeling to queen.
Crystal Kingdom is full of other delights, Bryn’s friend Tilda proving that being pregnant doesn’t mean she’s not a formidable fighter for instance, and Bryn’s own struggles to reconcile love and duty. Amanda Hocking doesn’t write lyrical prose, but I can’t resist her moving stories, her spirited but conflicted characters, and her inventive settings. There are plenty of books about vampires, fae, witches, and werewolves, but not many about trolls so I’m hoping that Hocking continues to write about this world.
I read a free ebook advanced review copy of Crystal Kingdom, supplied to me by the publisher through NetGalley. Review opinions are mine.