Trylle trilogy – Amanda Hocking

The Trylle trilogy was written by American author Amanda Hocking. She was born in 1984 (which makes her 32 now) and has already published an impressive 5 book series; 20 books in total. She is lauded for being an expert in combining creativity with commercial success factors. The Trylle trilogy was originally self-published in 2010 and 2011 and is about a teenage girl’s journey of self-discovery in an urban fantasy setting.

The young adult paranormal trilogy first came out as an e-book and sold over 1.5 million copies. When the author signed with St. Martin’s Press, they re-released the series in paperback and hardback in 2012. The three books tell the story of Wendy, a 17-year-old girl who has always felt out-of-place and then learns the reason for it: she is a changeling who was switched at birth and is actually a troll with magical powers. Not only that, she is also the daughter of the queen, making her a princess and next in line for the throne.

Now bear with me, because I know how this sounds. A book about trolls? Hocking’s trolls are nothing like the terrifying green woodland creatures that J. K. Rowling or J. R. R. Tolkien described in their books. Nor are they like the small, plastic dolls with crazy coloured hair that you might be thinking of. They are in fact very much like humans in looks and live in some kind of secret city in the mountains where humans are kept away through magic. Their children are switched with human children to give them the best start in life possible. This changeling practice dates back to when the Trylle lived in forests and couldn’t protect their children. Nowadays, their children end up with wealthy families so they could return home at 18 with a sizeable trust fund that will support them for live.

The first book is my favourite book of the series. I usually like the first book in a fantasy series best, especially when it’s the kind of fantasy that is linked to the real world. That is because the first book is the one where we discover the existence of magic (or whatever it is that is so different from our world) and where the main characters figure out this new world. It is usually the most magical of the series and that is also the case for this trilogy, in my opinion.

Switched is where we meet Wendy, a teenage girl whose mother tried to kill her on her sixth birthday. After her brother saved her and they went to live with their aunt, she started feeling even more out-of-place (she’s a very difficult eater, hates to wear shoes, has unmanageable hair, doesn’t look like her family at all, and so on). She has switched schools a lot because she always seems to get into trouble, and has now just started a new one, where she meets Finn. He always seems to be watching her and hanging around. He is the bodyguard sent to keep Wendy safe and take her back home to learn from her mother how to be the queen of the Trylle. She is thrust into Trylle life and has difficulties catching up and understanding everything about the Trylle, her heritage and also controlling her magical abilities. Her mother turns out to be a difficult woman to get to know and Wendy has a hard time adjusting to her new life. She finds comfort in her romantic feelings for Finn and in the few friends she makes in the palace. At the end of the book, a royal ball is thrown to introduce Wendy to Trylle society. However the festivities are interrupted when the Vittra, an enemy troll tribe, attack in an effort to kidnap Wendy. The Trylle have to use their magical powers to defend themselves and only barely succeed.

The story picks back up in Torn, where we find Wendy and Rhys (the human child who she was switched for) back with the Everlys. After the battle, Wendy learned that Finn had been reassigned and left her, so she left to go home. She tells Matt that Rhys is really his brother, but doesn’t want to reveal anything else about where she’s been or how Rhys figures into all of it. Later that night, Finn and another tracker return to convince her to come back to the Trylle, but she refuses. As the trackers prepare to leave, they are attacked by two Vittra. In the ensuing battle, Wendy is severely injured, which is how the Vittra manage to kidnap all of them.

At the Vittra stronghold, Wendy discovers that one of her kidnappers is Loki, a Vittra noble. On top of that, the current Vittra king, turns out to be her father (from a short-lived marriage to her mother in an effort to unify both tribes). He wants her to stay there and become a Vittra to later overthrow the Trylle. But the king’s plans are foiled when Wendy manages to convince Loki to let them escape. Wendy returns to the palace, shocked by what she’s learned and more determined than ever to learn everything she needs to know to become a good queen and master her magical abilities. In the meantime, Loki comes to the castle to seek refuge since he is being mistreated by the king – allowing Loki and Wendy’s feelings for one another to bloom. But Wendy is still in love with Finn, who likes her too but wants nothing to do with her, choosing duty over love every time.  Then Wendy is told that her mother arranged for her to be married to Tove, a Trylle noble that later confesses to be gay. She rebels at first but eventually accepts the proposal for the good of the Trylle. At the end of the book, Wendy and Tove walk into their engagement party together, ready to sacrifice their own happiness for the good of the Trylle.

The final part of the trilogy, Ascend, is where the story comes to a climax. Wendy gets married to Tove but then her mother dies and they are crowned King and Queen. She doesn’t have time to mourn her mother’s death however, since the Vittra see her mother’s death as their opportunity to take over the Trylle. Fights break out everywhere and together with her husband, they lead their people during these troubling. Wendy and Tove have a purely platonic relationship and throughout the book, Wendy’s feelings for Loki (the Vittra prince) keep on growing – they even end up sleeping together (resulting in pregnancy, which isn’t discovered/revealed until much later). Wendy and Tove admit they don’t have feelings for one another and that it isn’t going to change, so they get divorced.

Trouble keeps on brewing until the point where Wendy is forced to surrender to the Vittra king in order to save her people. She goes in with a group of her friends a day early, and they manage to break into the castle. Wendy makes it to the King’s chamber with the goal of killing him but he is too strong for her. He brings in Loki and kills him in front of her to show her that there is nothing she can’t do. Seeing Loki die gives her the strength she needs however, and she manages to kill her father. She immediately runs to Loki and, together with her stepmother, she manages to save his life. To put an end to the war between the Vittra and Trylle once and for all, Wendy and Loki decide to get married (luckily, they are in love). In a short epilogue we meet Wendy and Loki’s son and see that the couple is working hard in uniting their people and changing the troll society for the better. As a side-note, everyone else also ends up happy. A real and true happy ending!

Now the question is whether or not I liked this series. It’s hard to tell. I love the idea and I think the world-building is pretty decent and very original. I did not like the main character, who acted like a whiny, spoiled child throughout most of the book. But then, I also didn’t understand the fact that they threw Wendy into this world that was completely new for her and just expected her to know everything without any explanations – very illogical! I did not like her relationship with Finn because he keeps on pulling away from her and to me it was never clear whether or not he really loved her since he is constantly choosing other things over her. I did absolutely adore Loki however – he really loved Wendy and also knew her and appreciated her as a person. He supported her every step of the way, know how to handle her and what to say to motivate her. He let her be her own person and loved her truly and deeply from the beginning. I was happy that they ended up together. Though I have to admit that the whole love square was ridiculous. The typical love triangle wasn’t complicated enough for the author, so she threw a fourth person into the mix – completely ridiculous and unnecessary.

So I think that gives you a good idea about my feelings on the book: I liked most parts, hated some of it and loved some of it as well. I would recommend it to YA readers who can stand a few cliches and who would like to read something original. If you are more of a feminist and are looking for well-developed female characters, then stay away!

Have any of you read it yet? What did you think of the series? I’d love to read about it in the comments.

Happy reading,

Loes M.

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