Age: Young Adult
Let me start by saying that I rarely give up on a book without completing it. However, after getting a third of the way through Petronella & The Trogot by Cheryl Bentley, I have had enough. It was a bit torturous to even read that far due to the poor writing and incredibly annoying language of some of the characters.
The book centers on Petronella, a character who is described as having green skin, a big humped nose, and yellowish, uneven teeth—the standard witch. However, Petronella is not a witch, though she is treated as one by the community due to her looks. We are never told how old Petronella is, a detail which I feel is important for imagining and understanding the character. There is a big difference between her being an old woman, a teenager, or middle-aged, but we are left guessing. Petronella’s cat, unfortunately named Maalox, has some magical properties and is her only companion. One day Maalox digs up some bones in a nearby farmer’s field and inadvertently brings back to life some long-buried citizens of the town. These people, called Strincas, speak in an old-fashioned language the author has created that makes them sound like a mix between Shakespearean characters and pirates. I found the language so distracting that it became annoying very quickly. Just because someone is from a different time doesn’t mean you have to add “th” to the end of every other word. For example, the author writes, “Giveth me the chance to telleth ye exactly what ye can doth to helpeth the civilisation of the Strincas.” Imagine this going on for long threads of conversation and you may understand my annoyance. Soon the Hooded Horseman appears to tell Petronella that she is the only one who can control the Strincas, and she is left with the responsibility of determining who should stay in the present time and who needs to go back to being dead.
I guess I will never know what Petronella decides because I don’t care enough to finish reading the book. I don’t want to read any more of the overwriting, the incorrect punctuation usage, and the “th” language. While reading Petronella, I kept wondering if this book was self-published because it seemed so poorly edited. I looked up the publisher and they are not a vanity press, which I was surprised to see due to the quality of the writing. Others may find this story engrossing and entertaining, but I simply do not. I’m going to read something else instead.