In Bera the One Headed Troll by Eric Orchard, Bera is what one would call a gentle soul whose life evolves around growing pumpkins for the King of Trolls. Somewhat of a hermet who has never left her island home, Bera finds herself on an adventure after she rescues a baby from the malicious mermaids. With her pet owl, Winslowe, acting as scout she travels across the sea to the forest in order to find a hero who can return the small child back to her home. With the help of a handy guide full of maps and tales of the woodland folk, Bera travels through the night (since daylight will turn her into stone) on her quest. Unfortunately, the villanous troll magician Cloote, planning to turn the baby into a monster to impress the Troll King, is on the prowl ready to intercept Bera and her “bundle”. To make matters worse, many of the so called heroes turn out to be conspirators instead of friends. Bera, a one headed troll, eventually locates Nanna, a kindly but elderly three headed troll, who attempts a rescue in spite of her age related infirmaties. Ultimately, Bera is the one who must save the day with the help of Winslowe, some kindly Hedgehog Wizards, and a talking rat named Vince.
The brownish hued, sepia toned comic panels drawn by the author are uncluttered focusing on the creatures who inhabit the Troll World. Orchard’s unique style perfectly complements this faerie tale. While the good guys are cute, those intent on harm tend to be more sinister. A big plus is a female protagonist for the main character who discovers the inner courage to do the right thing. In this way she becomes a true hero, a nice change from the typical male dominated scenarios. Besides the good versus evil overtones, the reader learns that a troll must be careful whom she trusts since not every creature’s character can be taken at face value, a good moral for any age.
I felt the storyline of this graphic novel, even with its simple test and fast pace, was confusing at times and I often had to reread sections in order to figure out what was going on. Good for middle schoolers. Three stars.
A thank you for this ARC from Netgalley and First Second Books in exchange for a honest review. This review also appears on Goodreads.