Why do trolls live under bridges? The usual answer is to eat something; goats, children etc. This introductary tale plays off of this trope in fantasy. We have a troll who lives under a bridge somewhere in Alabama. He is a guardian of sorts; keeping watch over something called a nightmare gate. He’s disguised as a homeless person. However, a young girl and her brother discover him. They even guess rightly that he is a troll. Yet, he denies this. Our troll friend has dark thoughts of eating children. To combat this, he hits his head against the concrete abutment to drive the urges away. Just as he is quite tempted to attack the children, their mother appears. Thus, the disconnect begins.
This story had an interesting idea going in but as it went along, conveniences began popping up. Even the word “abutment” is used multiple times. Demons, war, wizards, and curses are what hold it all together. The reveals aren’t surprising. Things feel as though the authors didn’t know how dark they could go with the plot. There wasn’t enough of a journey to make the ending have a real emotional impact.
Not a great start for this dark concert. The characters felt generic, the world not alive enough (even with the attention to what could be gathered from the senses), and the plot didn’t sit well with the themes of the anthology. You had some violent moments but this story could have been served best if it would have been fleshed out a bit more.