When I was younger, I used to have a saying: "It's in the past, it can't hurt you any more." The thing is, no matter how much you move on, the past will always be there behind you. It's not a static thing, but a living thing as much as the present, reaching out to touch all your present and future decisions. You can process something, but it'll always linger there, ready to resurface when you least want it to or least expect it. It's what happens when that trigger pops, when that thing comes back to bite you, when the memories finally unlock in the dead of night, that shows you whether you've recovered enough. Whether you've processed enough. Whether or not you're actually on the mend. Trolls by Stefan Spjut and translated by Agnes Broomé is a book about processing the trauma of the past, of how to deal with the horrible things you've seen and done, or had done to you. It might have shape-changing forest monsters and a bleak suspense-thriller plot, it might be one of the darkest and most downbeat horror novels I've ever read, coming forward at a slow and menacing pace as it delves into the depths of its characters' attempts to make sense of the things they've seen and done. It might not be the lurid, gothic horror I'm normally used to, but its psychological slow-burn, some absolutely horrifying scenes (usually involving Stava), some very off-kilter humor, and the way the themes of processing trauma mess me the hell up make it well worth the time to read it and enjoy.
More, as always, below.