DEL TORO, Guillermo & . illus. by Sean Murray. 320p. Disney-Hyperion. 2015. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781423125983.
Gr 7 Up—Featuring plenty of edge-of-your-seat action, this offering from the director of Pan's Labyrinth and the author of Scowler (Delacorte, 2013) won't disappoint. In the late 1960s, eight-year-old James Sturges and his brother Jack were riding bikes at dusk, racing to get home before dark. Taking a shortcut under a bridge in the woods, they were attacked by a monstrous, shadowy creature with razor-sharp claws, glowing red eyes, and shaggy black fur. Though James barely escaped with his life, he never saw his brother Jack again. Now, many years later, James's 15-year-old son Jim suddenly starts seeing terrifying red-eyed monsters that no one else seems to see. When one creature pulls Jim under his bed one night, Jim learns of his own troll-hunting legacy and reluctantly enters an epic battle between trolls and humans. This work features an eclectic and endearing cast of troll and human characters. Even though the pacing is a bit choppy, moving from fast-paced in one chapter to slow in the next, the heart-pounding opening chapter would make an excellent library or classroom read-aloud. This funny, gory first series installment may engage reluctant readers, particularly those familiar with del Toro's horror films. Beautifully creepy, full-color artwork is sprinkled throughout, but it often appears well after the scene it depicts.
VERDICT More gruesome than scary, this title will be a hit with teens and adults who love action-packed, dark fantasy adventures.—Leigh Collazo, Dulwich College, Suzhou, China
Jim Sturges, a prototypical unpopular kid, discovers he is from a family of trollhunters and teams up with his friend Tub, his long-missing uncle, and some "good" trolls to defeat the child-eating European trolls invading America. Complex characters; plentiful action; vividly written horror ("a net of blood vessels twined up my forearm"); and Murray's detailed, sinister illustrations all complement one another.

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