Will Gallows and the Snake-bellied Troll by Derek Keilty

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Will Gallows and the Snake-bellied Troll by Derek Keilty

Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: John Lloyd
Reviewed by John Lloyd
Summary: A cowboy-and-baddie themed fantasy novel for the under-twelves, which has some great scene setting and strong action.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 256 Date: February 2011
Publisher: Andersen
ISBN: 978-1849392365

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Will Gallows is not your average boy. Finding out the name of the baddie who gunned down his policeman father, he takes it upon himself to get revenge, by bringing him in - even though he's the nastiest gunslinger around. Oh, and a troll with snakes coming from his belly. Will, being not your average boy, is half-elf, however, and can talk to his flying horse to help him on his way. But is there more to the story of his father's death than he thinks, and just what is it with all the earthquakes his town is suffering?

His town is not a usual one, either, as three or four towns are perched on top of a huge cactus-shaped rock in this fantasy world. Deeper down, nearer the bole of the cactus, is Deadrock, a subterranean hell-hole, where - of course - Will must solve all his problems. The fantasy side of this story is very strong, from the unusual setting, which is portrayed very vividly and enjoyably, to the standard mix of trolls, goblins, half-elves and talking horses.

But it's the western film angle that's going to make this series stand out. Nasties, stand-offs, sheriffs with drink problems and a rampant ability to lose control of their prisoners, even steam trains shuttling through sleepy towns - all are present and correct. I can't remember a book that so successfully merges two completely different genres so convincingly, and engagingly, and this will sell well on that.

Of course, however well the two strands merge, it does leave us with something a little too familiar, however well it is sold as 'never done before'. The cover quote mentioned it being very funny, too, with which I disagree - there are some western movie homages in the names, and some light gags here and there, but on the whole this would have been a lot closer to five stars if I had found it as comical as I allegedly was going to.

All the same, the target audience will enjoy this, and the tidy little size will give the less-confident reader a sense of achievement. It's a bright little book, despite so much of it being set down a mine, and I can easily recommend it. It's a neat concept, a great story and one set in a finely portrayed world, which deserves more adventures in future volumes.

I must thank the kind Andersen Press people for my review copy.

We recommend the same audience get in early on another new series boding great things - Spindlewood: Pip and the Wood Witch Curse by Chris Mould.

Buy Will Gallows and the Snake-bellied Troll by Derek Keilty at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Will Gallows and the Snake-bellied Troll by Derek Keilty at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Will Gallows and the Snake-bellied Troll by Derek Keilty at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Will Gallows and the Snake-bellied Troll by Derek Keilty at Amazon.com.


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