Petronella & The Trogot by Cheryl Bentley
Publisher: Sparkling Books
Genre: YA Horror (Ghosts)
Overall: I really hate to have given this story a mediocre rating, because it is quite a unique twist on Dante’s Inferno. I was confused how to rate this book, as it seems like a good book for MG or YA, but the main character is an adult. This definitely isn’t written like an adult novel. In fact, I think this might be the only book I ever want to buy on audio – I LOVED the narrative. I just imagined some nice librarian reading each chapter out loud. It was written to be best read out loud like a picture book with spookiness and characters great for a MG student and the setting that only a YA/Adult would fully comprehend. Maybe this is a book meant for adults who like scary MG books? That’s my best guess.
Characters: There are two types of characters. The people who speak in normal English and those that speak in old English. And though it’s quite easy to tell one from the other, I really don’t like books were there is a heavy use of character accents. That said, at least the dialogue was easy to understand regardless of the accent used. There is a huge cast of characters that aren’t that complex, but the dialogue feels very authentic. There are good people and there are bad people. There are no in between people. Also, a gripe. That new headmaster of the school – she is CRAZY! What kind of REAL student would like those new rules?
Plot: It felt like the first half of the story and the second half were two separate stories. In the beginning Petronella is unloved and bullied by her neighbors. All she wants is to have a family of her own and the male neighbors quite bluntly turn her requests for marriage. One day her cat uncovers a few bones and that night Petronella is visited by a dead hooded man. Soon more bones are uncovered and villagers dead for over a thousand years return to life. These villagers adore Petronella, who has a special device to control the spirits’ destinies. In the second half of the story, Petronella travels through this underground area where the evil people are punished in death. If you’ve ever read Dante’s Inferno, the areas are very familiar although with a modern twist. I didn’t like how the sexism present in Dante’s Inferno showed up in this retelling. Not all women are victims and not all men are the abusers.
Ending: I think that the major plot wrapped up nicely, although I wish the ending scene could of spanned 20 or 30 more pages to flesh it out more. It felt like a summary at times instead of letting the reader experience all the good stuff.
Petronella moves to a cottage in a seemingly ideal village. But she soon comes into contact with its weird inhabitants, a tree-monster that appears in her garden, gets spooky night-time visits from a hooded horseman, and finds a boy-ghost in her house. How do creepy ghosts and scary monsters fit in with the invasion of spirits all over Fort Willow?
This book is great modern retelling of Dante’s Inferno.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher (Netgalley) in exchange for an honest review.
About the Author
(Bio information borrowed from publisher’s website.)
Cheryl Bentley is from Bedford. She spent many a happy hour of her childhood reading and sucking sweets by the banks of the River Ouse or in the home of her carer Marian.
She has a degree in English from the University of London.
By day she works, by night she writes.