Troll or Derby
by Red Tash
Troll or Derby is a dark, gritty, fantastic fantasy tale vividly told with horror, humor and heart. I loved this story! It’s a young adult novel, well, the heroine is a 15 year old girl named Deb and the hero seems more mature sometimes… But I think he’s not much older than her. So, this adventure is with young protagonists but it does have adult language and situations.
Deb is kind of an outcast, she’s different. I love different. 🙂 Her mother is an alcoholic and Deb has found herself in a position of caring for her big sister Gennifer. She’s funny and brave and stubborn and snarktastic! Deb states the differences between herself and her sister this way…
“If I was the town reject, Gennifer was the closest thing Bedrock had to a debutante.”
Deb’s journey to discover her destiny starts when she rescues her sister from a fire. Gennifer has been caught up in with drugs and her supplier/boyfriend Dave’s trailer is in the process of burning down. Deb storms the
castle junky trailer and saves her. They both have to go to the emergency room. Deb rolls out of the hospital, with a head wound, to tell her mom that Gennifer won’t be able to make it to Homecoming. When Gennifer disappears from the hospital her mom screams that she was supposed to protect Gennifer and it’s part of a prophecy. Deb is baffled by this but determined to do what she always does and rescue her sister. She ties of her skates and starts off…
This story is told in alternating voices. The first chapter is Deb’s and then it’s Harlow’s turn. You get two unique individuals telling their sides of the same story. Who’s Harlow? He’s a troll. Yep, you heard me, a TROLL. I really adored him. He has a strong heart. He’s clever, charismatic (he’s sings in a band!) heroic and determined to protect Deb. He is also huge, strong and has tusks! 🙂 When he needs to, he can use glamour and appear human. He spotted Deb when she pulled her sister from the burning trailer and he’s instantly drawn to her… but he doesn’t know why. Harlow has a lot of gaps in his memory and as the tale unfolds and memories start to return the mystery of his connection to Deb is revealed and his roll in her life becomes very important.
“There was only going to be one way out of the Fog for me–don’t ask me how I knew it, but in that breath of fresh air between the third verse and the chorus, I knew I would follow Mr. Sunshine through hell or high water…”
When Deb and Harlow meet there’s a sense of trust and familiarity that she is surprised by. He seems to actually care and have her best at heart. That’s a new experience for her and she’s unsure of their bond. Nope, this is not your traditional love story, though there is a lot of heart. This is not a pretty, fluffy, fairytale. It’s a serious, dark, fairytale that’s gritty and realistic and yet it’s magical and funny and emotional and addicting!
“I nodded, but I was really tiring of this. I mean, he was a troll, for Pete’s sake! Part of my mind was screaming that he was probably going to eat me, eventually. The other part actually did trust him. I wasn’t sure which side was winning.”
I really enjoyed Red’s version of the magical creatures that filled this book. The trolls, fairies and pixies oh my. The descriptions of the Troll Market are colorful, vivid, beautiful and disturbing. The roller derby scenes in the story are intense and visceral. I could feel the impact of bodies slamming into one another and the speed flying around the rink. It’s intense and exciting… an adrenaline rush. I was captivated by the descriptions of the teeth, bones, blood, sweat, hopes, fears, magic and heart in this adventure.
“Fairies are like that. They won’t give you a decent chance–not ever. Trolls, too. Put them together, and you’ve got the brawn, the brains, and the badass magic to wreak havoc on most anything.”
I want more Deb and Harlow! I want to know what’s next as Deb discovers who she is and if there’s truth to the prophecy surrounding Harlow and herself and where that will take them. I recommend this book if you would enjoy a dark, disturbing, gritty young adult fantasy. I love the mash-up of dark and serious with heart and humor. I’m rooting for Deb to spread her wings and fly high and I can’t wait to see where her skates take her next.
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