I started smiling when I saw the title page of For Whom the Bell Trolls, and though I hadn’t yet reached the first of the “25 Tales of Terror, Triumph, and Trolls,” I knew they were going to be more fun than terrifying.
My first smile was for the drawing of a horned, top-knotted troll head resting in (or coming out of?) the shell of an Easter egg. He didn’t look too terrible, just goofy. But what was the significance of the Easter egg? I looked it up. According to Wikipedia, an Easter egg is an inside joke, something hidden, as in a treasure hunt. In this collection, the illustrations are studded with “Easter eggs” representing the 23 authors. Clues to their meanings are hidden after each story in its author bio.
I was right, a few of these tales have serious themes and a touch of horror, but most are twisted, fun, and different. Together they display a rainbow of mythical trolls: menacing, loveable, ridiculous, and as flawed as any human. Lindy Moone’s illustrations are different and interesting too, each a story in itself.
It’s interesting to see how 23 authors approached their troll subjects. Read the “antrollogy” for take-offs on fairy tales like Trolling on the River, a story that questions the need to be heartless and threatening to get ahead in the world.
Read the tales for pens dripping with wit, irony, and silliness, constructions like “ruse-colored glasses,” a spaceship powered by “perpetual notion,” and an asteroid with a “farce field” (all in Droll Troll, a story in which philosophy saves the world from destruction. Yay, philosophy!) You’ll find a comedic range of human foibles mixed with profundity, like “Just when Lord Snoot thought…the world would suffer because nobody was listening to him…” (My favorite one-liner.)
Read for creative views of troll romance and sex. Watch out for Trolly Tia (lightly x-rated), and the title work, For Whom the Bell Trolls: “Just once, Lexi would like an assignment free of trouser bulge. But what did she expect, working with Hex offenders?”
Everyone will have a favorite story. I think mine may be the novella introducing Fergus Underbridge: Troll Detective, a complex troll hero who navigates segregated cultures.
Some of the stories are disturbingly human, like Neighborhood Troll, a fine story with an end I didn’t see coming; Disposal, a gripping piece about boys driven to fury by an Internet “troll,” and Boiling Point, a story that shows the internal and external ravages of rage.
“Troll” has historically been a name for anyone sneaking about with evil intent. Reading these tales made me wonder about the origin of troll tales and myths, and if the first literary troll was Grendel of “Beowulf.” The tales also made me wonder if ancient legends of trolls living under bridges might have been based on deformed, homeless, insane and otherwise unfortunate humans.
Most ebooks do not have illustrations, but this one has shining grayscale drawings by writer-artist-editor Lindy Moone (Hyperlink from Hell), who invited authors to participate in this project and dedicated nearly two years to it. The work was co-edited by author John L. Monk (Kick, Fool’s Ride, and Thief’s Odyssey), who also contributed two stories and front-matter witticisms. In addition to stories, the volume contains several haiku written by Moone and Meribeth Hutto.
No one who contributed to this anthology will benefit from sales. Net profits will be donated to the charity Equality Now, an international human rights organization dedicated to the social, civil, political and economic rights of women and girls.
Buy the book! It’s now available for ebook on Amazon.com.