It’s time to reclaim the world troll, internet. Now when we hear the word we just imagine a man with Cheetos stained fingers tapping at his sticky keyboard, vomiting the words “not all men…” into Twitter.
There was a time when trolls were something more pleasant. Sure they liked to hide under bridges and eat any poor domesticated ruminant they went trip trapping across, but I’d rather live next door to that sort of troll than one that was to explain to me that “actually it’s about ethics in games journalism.”
So below I’ve picked through some old school trolls to help you find the ones that will inspire you to take back the term knobbly monsterkind everywhere.
Thud! by Terry Pratchett
People can be intimidated by the size of the Discworld universe but let me let you in on a secret – even the biggest Discworld fan in the world didn’t start reading them in perfect order. They all fit together without requiring a chronological understanding of every character, and Thud! is one of the best. It focuses on tensions between the troll and dwarf communities after Grag Hamcrusher, dwarf, is murdered. Featuring trolls like Detritus, Brick and the grim truth behind troll drug abuse it’s perfect Pratchett.
Most Pratchett books are worth buying and this is no exception, mainly because once you’ve enjoyed the world of Ankh-Morpork City Watch you’ll want to pass it on, like an infectious disease that makes anyone who catches it really happy and prone to emitting chuckles in public places while reading.
The Treatment by Mo Hayder
Recommending this book is like recommending an incredible stern horror film, you should really only do it to people you know and trust less they think you unhinged. This is a thriller which is so dark I’ve known it give grown men nightmares. The troll is a creature seen by children around the same time that terrible murders have been happening to families, and troubled Detective Inspector Jack Caffery has to figure out what connection the mythical monster has to the victims.
This gets a borrow rating because the sheer brutality of Hayder’s crime writing is not for everyone and those with children should probably avoid this as they would a kleptomaniac babysitter. (Those already in the know about Mo Hayder can check out the Belgian adaptation De Behandeling, which is worth the subtitles.)
Trolls by Brian Froud and Wendy Froud
If you’ve recently rewatched Labyrinth in honour of the Goblin King then Froud’s work will be instantly recognisable to you. He worked with Jim Henson on The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth and here brings a strange gnarled beauty to a whole cast of trolls. Some look so cute you want to buy them tiny sneakers and feed them cake, others poke at the bits of your brain where you keep your childhood nightmares.
This is another buy because you can never have enough of these sort of beautiful hardcover books around the place, scattered across desks and coffee tables and always there at just the right moment to whisk your eyes to a magical world and away from the crash of the dishwasher and a hundred unanswered emails.
Stallo by Stefan Spjut and Susan Beard
A thick wedge of a book that’s set in Sweden, is full of dark forests and remote cabins where sinister things can happen and starts with the kidnap of a child. Enter our hero Susso, obsessed with trolls because her grandfather claimed to have photographed one years before, and the only person that can help why children are going missing and what sociopathic woodland creatures have to do with it all.
This is a borrow because you’ll have to really love Susso and her modern take on the troll myth to stick with this finger strainer of a book. Me, I loved the surly heroine and the strange shapeshifting creatures that crept and stomped all over the pages.