Undrastormur by Roger Eschbacher
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
With Undrastormur, Roger Eschbacher again ventures into the YA territory from his Dragonfriend series – well, not the same world but certainly aimed at the same demographic: Pre-teens just discovering their grown up fantasy worlds.
With this novella, we are introduced to Eirik, the teenage grandson of Drengur Darkbeard, the long vanished leader of a medieval viking clan. The trouble starts when a group of trolls decides Eirik’s village is their new buffet table and it’s up to Eirik, with the help of Bruun, a Fylgja (a guardian spirit), to stop them. In order to do this, Eirik ends up traveling to Niflheim, the Norse Underworld to recover a staff of Thor. The staff allows them to call down the Undrastorm of the title but will it be in time…
As you can see, Eschbacher does his research. He immerses his readers immediately in the culture and world and he makes it instantly believable. Eirik and the other characters are well drawn and rather likable.
The story itself is clean. there’s nothing objectionable about from a parent’s perspective. No language, no sex (even the slight possibility of a romantic entanglement is swept away without even acknowledging it, which feels appropriate for the age of the characters), the bully gets his comeuppance and (almost) everyone ends happily ever after. Even the actual ending, which leaves Eschbacher open to explore this world much further is a nice moment. There is humor where there needs to be humor and seriousness where there needs to be seriousness.
My only complaint is the language itself will sometimes veer from archaic formal to modern informal without warning, which is kind of jarring at times.