On her birthday, Zaria Fierce finds her usual path to school blocked by an ugly river-troll. At first she’s surprised and curious, but then Olaf threatens to eat her, which is an act Zaria could not in good conscience consent to, so Zaria counteroffers. A deal is struck and she goes to school, but Zaria is about to learn the hard way that one does not trick a river-troll and expect to win.
©2015 Keira Gillett (P)2015 Keira Gillett
Zaria Fierce was such a quick and engaging read that I listened to it in a day. It's the type of book that is so easy to listen to that you've most of it done before you realise.
One thing I loved about the book is Zaria herself. She is a bookworm and loves fantasy books so is quite surprised to meet an honest to goodness troll named Olaf. He wont let her cross but she tries to trick him like in Billy Goats Gruff. She tells him she will do something for him, but once passed she thinks that maybe her mind played tricks on her and it wasn't real. She returns to "real" life but a few days later, one of her best friends never returns home. She soon realises that the troll has taken him and won't return him till she agrees to get the Heart of Gloomwood Forest for him. She reluctantly agrees, and along with some of her friends, finds herself on an amazing journey through a land she thought only existed in books. Zaria was smart, brave, loyal and an all round amazing role model.
Plot wise, it was really fast paced and interesting. I loved the lore behind the world and the author really brought the land to life through her vivid descriptions. I had no problem visualising the place and creatures. I also loved the sheer variety of fantastical creatures that are featured. We have a bit of everything!
In all, this was such a pleasant read. The characters are easily relatable, the plot was fast paced and kept my interest and the book as a whole was thoroughly entertaining. I'm looking forward to the next one to see what adventures await Zaria and her friends.
Michele Carpenter did a really good job with most of her voices. She had a ton of different ranges for the trolls and all the creatures, I just found some of her human voices were a little off. Her accents for a few of Zaria friends sounded like a blend of different ones, and maybe that's what she went for, but personally, I thought they sounded a little weird! Other than that, she nailed the creatures.
Deal maker for me was Norwegian setting. Zaria is a bookworm who learns that things known and unknown to her are real. Having read many Norwegian tales to my own children, I was delighted to pass this one along to the grandkids! The audio performer did a magnificent job of interpreting differences between beings. Hoping to read more of Zaria, and hope that Michele Carpenter will perform them!
Zaria and her family recently moved to Norway and Zaria has made a few friends already and is enjoying learning the myths and legends of Norway. One day on the way to school, she comes across Olaf the river troll who threatens to eat her. She counteroffers with a feast to be delivered in three days time. He lets her pass. However, she doesn’t hold up her end of the bargain and she finds there are consequences. Pretty soon, she and her friends are embarking on a quest to save a friend, Christoffer, who was taken captive by Olaf.
This was quite a fun children’s book that I think will appeal to many adults as well. First, I really like the set up. We’re in Norway so we have the great frozen forests and water ways. Then there’s Zaria, a female non-Caucasian lead in a fantasy story. Lastly, Zaria made a mistake in choosing to break her deal with the river troll Olaf, which sets this whole adventure in motion.
Zaria gathers up her allies (friends of Christoffer’s) and one of them has a mysterious magical device (a star gazer) that can pause time, allowing them to head off on their quest without alerting their parents. With Aleks, Filip, and Geirr, Zaria heads off into the Norwegian wilderness. And I’ll just tuck my one little quibble in here – Zaria is the only female character for much of the book, tho eventually we do get an elf lord’s wife and some nameless female warriors and the mention of a Queen Helena. I would have liked a few more female characters.
Pretty soon, they come across a winter wyvern (Ooooooo!) named Norwick and his human-like friend Hector, who is one of the elfvolken. Zaria and the boys aren’t too sure how much to trust Hector but Zaria has formed a bond with Norwick and they elect to travel with them for now. Without getting spoilery, the author pulls in trolls and an the Wild Hunt! Yes! I love stories of the Wild Hunt and the thought of trolls riding the Wild Hunt is enough to send shivers up my spine!
There’s plenty of dashing about and trying to save one another and trickery and defiance and a bit of regret and swearing to make it all right again. Yeah. It was good. It’s a great adventure with the boys and Zaria helping each other along the way. I really like that Zaria owns up to her mistakes throughout the book and that her mistakes also make her human and real. There’s also real camaraderie between her and the boys and she also does her best to treat her allies with respect. The ending had Zaria in a tough position and she had to make a choice. Such a tough one! But now things are set up perfectly for Book 2.
I received a copy of this book at no cost from the author in exchange for an honest review.
The Narration: Michelle Carpenter was great. She has this perfect voice for young Zaria and light Norwegian accents for all the boys. I loved her gravelly voices for the trolls. She also had rich voices for the elves as described in the book. She also did a great job of getting the characters’s emotions across to the listener. Great performance!
I liked the setting, it was reminiscent of Tolkien's Hobbit, and a hint of Grimm's with modern day touches.
I really enjoyed her reading, it's easy on the ears, and she does a good job of keeping all the character voices unique and separate.
I did listen to it all in one sitting, so, yes!
I have to say I had no idea what to expect, but I enjoyed this much more than anticipated. Zaria is lovable and kind, and her friends are brave and supportive. And their adventures, while significantly less violent and hair-raising than much of modern fantasy, is, in my opinion, perfect for its intended audience.
I enjoy the writing style, it flows well, and is far more mature in phrasing and dialogue than most YA fiction I've read. Gillett does like her big words, and this book will definitely push a child's vocabulary skills. I think I came across a word or two I wasn't familiar with.
Bonus points for not using any repetitive slang words or phrases like so many YA books.
I'm looking forward to the rest of the series.
I am a self - taught jewelry artist with a taste for fantasy and magical world.
First of all I loved the mix of fantasy and modern technology. Also, the fact that the main character is a girl - shy at first but evolving to a real heroine, making mistakes but learning from them. This book is a beautiful adventure in a realm "old" and new, with fantastical creatures, trolls, elves, wyverns but also today's technology. An enchanting story written with humor that goes perfectly with a hot chocolate in front of the fire in a winter night :D
Really likable characters, magic, tension, myths from the past combined with modern day society, and the adventures are never really gruesome.
The reading by Michele Carpenter adds to the story.
I liked this a lot and I have immediately started the next book in the series.
Check out more detailed reviews on my blog amiesbookreviews.wordpress. com
ZARIA FIERCE AND THE SECRET OF GLOOMWOOD FOREST
Author: Keira Gillett
Type of Book: Audiobook Unabridged
Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy Fiction
Narrator: Michele Carpenter
Length: 4 hours, 2 minutes
Release Date: March 11, 2015
Publisher: Keira Gillett
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Zaria's family moves to Norway just before her thirteenth birthday. Zaria's last name may be "Fierce" but she is actually an introvert. She loves to read fantasy novels and wishes her life was more like the lives she reads about in her books.
Zaria is adopted but she has blessed with great parents.
On her thirteenth birthday, while crossing over a river by way of a foot bridge, Zaria is accosted by a troll. Yes! A troll. She makes a deal with him so that he won't eat her.
Afterwards she starts to question whether what she saw was really a troll. Maybe her vivid imagination made her think that it was a troll when really she had met an old homeless man. She tries to put the event out of her mind.
Several weeks later her best friend Christopher goes missing. Zaria has no idea where he went or what has happened to him. She does not think of her meeting with Olaf the Bridge Troll at all.
However, it soon becomes clear that the two events are related.
This book is perfect summer reading material for kids ages 9-13. Zaria learns that the creatures that she thought only existed in fairy tales are very real and they are definitely not what she expected.
This book will have young listeners hooked right from the start. In fact, if parents are planning a driving holiday this summer, I highly recommend purchasing this audiobook. It will definitely keep the kids entertained while traveling.
Michele Carpenter's narration is terrific. This audiobook must have been a tough challenge for a narrator. There are multiple races of creatures as well as multiple ethnicities of children's voices to navigate. Yet, somehow Michele Carpenter pulls it off seamlessly. Her exquisite narration certainly added to my enjoyment of the audiobook.
This book wraps up the story nicely, and yet still leaves the listener wanting to know what happens next.
I rate both the writing and the narration of this Middle Grade fantasy adventure novel as 5 out of 5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
* I received a free copy of this audiobook from the author in exchange for an honest review.
This story really kept the kids attention which says ALOT!!!!. The mix of magic, a river troll an suspense had us all hooked. The narrator did a fantastic job keeping the story flowing. If your looking for a book that will capture the whole family's attention (even Pap sat an listened with us) then this is the book you must listen to.
Yes, I will certainly listen to it again. Zaria's story is a good one, engaging and intriguing. I especially like that it was crafted to be part of a larger whole. The entire world feels alive, like we're just seeing a part of what this new mythology has to offer. Obviously, this was written to be the beginning of a trilogy, but the whole framework makes me itch to see how the details will be painted in over the years, hopefully with many more books and characters.
There were a couple good character reveals, which I won't spoil here, the most obvious being the background of Zaria herself. There were also some great chase scenes, although in at least one case, I was actually running myself as I listened to the audiobook - something I haven't done before, but enjoyed immensely while listening to the Zaria books - which added another immersive element. But all in all, it wasn't the "a-ha moments" about the book that moved me as much as the consistent pacing, beckoning me on.
The narrator brought a thoroughly "listenable" voice, and a wealth of amusing accents to the characters, as well as fulfilling the important job of providing consistent pronunciation for some of the unusual names. It may be an obscure reference, but Mz. Carpenter's voice reminds me strongly of Nina Gordon (of Veruca Salt fame) - that's a good thing - and I thought her airy smoothness was perfect for capturing Zaria's mixture of youthful uncertainty and intrinsic courage. Every one of the other characters had a recognizable and distinct voice, including those of other races, which particularly gained an extra layer of mental imagery from her expressive treatment. (Still, my reason for four stars is largely that there were no distinctly Norwegian voices - that is, none of the voices sounded like the few Norwegians that I've worked or played soccer with, or the tracks on my learn-to-speak CDs - so while I'm admittedly not an expert in accents, I came away feeling like several of the important human characters weren't properly placed by the accents that she ascribed to them. This was a minor point, though, and one that most listeners would probably never notice or care about.)
Yes; in fact, I made each of my listening opportunities as long as possible, including (as mentioned above) even listening to it while I ran - an activity well-suited to the adventurous nature of the tale. I crammed in every minute of listening that I could, so that I could hear how it turned out.
I enjoyed this book greatly and was eager to tear into the next one. If I could rate it four and a half stars, I would. The only concern that I had was that I felt some of the mechanics of the writing showed the author's relative inexperience - of course I'm saying this as one who has never written a book, or even a book review - and that the story could have been made even better with a little more thorough editing. I'll temper that further, however, by saying that some turns of phrase were clearly deliberate, and were simply not my personal preference; and, more importantly, I think she has done a wonderful job of writing in a way that shows how kids speak, and how they think, but without downplaying the use of language and more advanced words. The kids at the heart of this story are smart and brave, and they are ushering us into a world that I want to know more about. Bring on the tales!
I really enjoyed the immersive experience of being taken to a new world where anything could happen. While this was a complete story, it left me wanting more, so I will definitely be listening to the next book. I highly recommend this for anyone who enjoyed the Harry Potter series because this had a similar listening quality. Thank you Keira for giving this fun story to the world!
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