Publisher: Keira Gillett
Number of Pages: 270
Date Published: November 6th 2015
In Zaria Fierce and the Secret of the Gloomwood Forest, Zaria made a huge mistake while trying to rescue her friend Christoffer, well she was actually tricked by Olaf, a river troll, but the sting of what transpired has been a painful reminder of her mistake. Waiting months on end for any news from Hector hasn't been easy and Zaria and her friends are impatient to begin the next step of their adventure, to retrieve the Drakeland Sword. When news finally arrives from Hector, Zaria, Geirr, Filip, Aleks and Christoffer, make arrangements to acquire a ship and set off for the kingdom of dwarves. Zaria plans to present herself to the dwarf king in hopes that he will release the Drakeland sword to her. But, something sinister has been following them, lurking in the shadows plaguing Zaria, haunting her dreams and feeding off of her insecurities. Will Zaria prove to the king that she is Queen Helena's daughter or will she succumb to her fears?
I like how the action begins quickly and Gillett brings the reader up to speed on the plot, no time is wasted in getting these friends off on another adventure through the Norwegian countryside. Oh and that setting, it's one of the most enjoyable things in reading Gillett's stories. All the lovely rich details of each of the magical kingdoms, each place is unique and highlights the depth of her imagination. (For some really good examples of the magical kingdoms check out this blog tour stop Gillett did at A Cup Of Coffee and A Book and while there check out the illustrations by Eoghan Kerrigan too.) I also love the detailed illustrations by Kerrigan, they really compliment the text and bring the trolls, giants and dwarves to light. In book 2, I couldn't help feeling sorry for Zaria. She has been paying dearly for her mistake, mostly by being so hard on herself and taking all of the blame for being tricked by Olaf. It's been difficult to see her transforming from this shy quiet girl, to then fighting off wolves, and now regressing backward after being plagued by this trollish specter. I had wished that she could articulate to her friends what was happening to her and know that they would have been there for her all along. They all do make such lovely friends. But, I'm fairly certain that Zaria will be back to herself in the next book and learn from the whole experience. So, if you like middle grade stories about Norway with beautiful illustrations, you'll really appreciate Zaira Fierce.