Prizewinning, up-and-coming author Finlay expands one of his popular stories (“A Democracy of Trolls”) into a fresh and affecting first novel with echoes of Tarzan of the Apes and The Jungle Book.
As his father’s domain falls to an invading army, the infant Claye is found and adopted by a mountain troll named Windy, who raises him as her own despite the disapproval of her tribe. Amid the Neanderthalish trolls, who call him Maggot, the human boy is relatively small and weak, but his superior wits allow him to hold his own. As he grows, however, Maggot recognizes that he is not like the others, and so he sets out to find his place among other humans, though their world is more treacherous and complicated than anything he’s known among the trolls. Finlay handles his tale with a light touch, but still wrings some potent emotion from Maggot’s predicament, at home in neither world, confused and enraged by the cruelties and hypocrisy of human civilization.
Some rough edges, but unusually intriguing and satisfying work from a writer on the rise.