Title: Heroes of the Valley
Author: Jonathan Stroud
What it's about: So Halli's the descendant of one of the great heroes of the valley, men who once drove away the man-eating monsters called Trows. He's the second son, however, and and an unhandsome young man, too. He also has a penchant for pranks, causing trouble, and getting into fights. So he's not particularly well-liked among the people of Svein's House. When Halli causes trouble with a member of another House at the great gathering, he sets in motion a series of events that turn everything he believed about his world upside down.
What I thought: Definitely not a story with a heroic gloss to it. Nonetheless, this book isn't so dark and depressing as to turn off a reader. The descriptions were vivid, and Halli was an interesting protagonist. He's not your usual idealistic boy hero; his love of legends makes him rather an annoyance to the rest of his House. Still, not unlikable. Aud, also, is not a perfect character, which makes her interesting and a good match for Halli. Really, I was very impressed with the climax of the book. It's very dark and atmospheric, and, well, pretty darn creepy. Also the interspersed legends of Svein add flavor to the book. If you liked The Sea of Trolls, then you'll like this, and vice versa.
Overall: Good read.