Troll Or Derby
Pub Date: June 14, 2012
So Red Tash has a new Kindle book available on Amazon, Troll Or Derby, and I managed to score a pre-release review copy, and wasn’t that a lucky day for me? I’m familiar with her quirky, fun characters from her Amazon Shorts—check out “The Wizard Takes a Holiday” for a fast, fun example—so I was somewhat prepared for the folks I met when I opened Troll Or Derby. There’s Roller Deb herself, of course: a teenage girl from a bad neighborhood just about everybody in town assumes is gay, and who is also a fairy in imminent danger of fledging.
Roller Deb’s life’s ambition is to skate in the roller derby. Her mom’s a drunk and hates her, and her sister’s a pain in the neck beauty queen with a meth lord boyfriend, so her life’s far from ideal, but it doesn’t really fall apart until her beauty queen sister goes missing. Roller Deb’s mom tells her to get gone and not come back until she finds her sister, which seems harsh, but Roller Deb goes along with it, and sets off on adventure that will change her life—and her world.
Roller Deb learns that there’s considerably more to the people around her than meets the eye. There’s Jarrod McJagger, mobster, drug lord, roller derby team owner—and troll; Harlow, dump scavenger, rock star, and mostly estranged nephew to Jarrod McJagger, and therefore also a troll. There’s the guy who runs the skating rink—also a troll, who gives Roller Deb a pair of magic skates.
For a book that deals with fairies, Troll Or Derby is surprisingly gritty. Tash’s fairies owe more to the “Good Neighbors” of folklore—beings it paid to treat with wariness and respect—than they do to Disney. There’s nothing cute and sweet about Roller Deb—she’s tough, and she’s scrappy, and she’s strong, and not above throwing the occasional elbow.
For all the mythic overtones, the dangers she faces are surprisingly believable—she fights off the sorts of dangers that any teenage runaway might face, and she does it not by evoking some magical power—for most of the book she’s not aware that she has any—but by using her courage, wits, intuition, and strength.
This is a story that kept me reading, and I’m not exactly in the teenager target demographic. It moves fast, and Tash’s prose is as addictive as McJagger’s fairy meth. Roller Deb finds herself in a world that’s a scary, ugly place in many ways, and Tash portrays that world and its denizens in realistic terms—something that makes the weight and impact of the decisions Roller Deb must make all the more compelling. This story is more than just a “pretty face”—it’s a story about a girl who, in dealing with a far from ideal world, learns that there is much more to her than she ever dreamed. I say “buy it.”