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Troll Or Derby Paperback – June 14, 2012
The Amazon Book Review
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*2013 eFestival of Words Best Fantasy Finalist*
From the Inside Flap
Debra Wheeler seems like any other high school reject: at fifteen, she's more into roller skating than boys, and Mom plays favorites with big sister Gennifer, the homecoming princess. With little to love in ultra-rural Bedrock, Indiana, Deb's counting down the days until she can skate away to join the roller derby.
When Gennifer is kidnapped, Mom's breakdown forces Deb to take charge. With no clue where to start and thugs on her tail, she turns to the only adult who has ever helped her out in a jam: Coach, the owner of the skating rink. So what if he has tusks and might be a troll? Coach gives her a pair of magical skates and sends her off into a world that reveals a magical, if somewhat sinister, nature. Deb soon discovers that beneath the "glamours" of everyday life flit a million fantastical stories--and her own might be the juiciest gossip in town.
The Midwestern lifestyle every teenager loves to hate is turned inside out as Deb careens through Rumspringa, biker gangs, flea markets and tractor pulls--all teeming with fae. The valiant troll Harlow tries to intervene before Deb strays from her mission into romance and roller derby, but will they join forces to save Gennifer, or be lost to this strange new realm, forever?
Readers will find Deb a smart and witty narrator who--like them--says the wrong thing, wishes she could be someone else, and falls for the wrong person. They'll be drawn in by a girl who is independent and street smart, and they'll fall for her destined BFF, the whimsical troll loner who guides them through this quirky dark fantasy romp.
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Top customer reviews
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Deb saves her sister in what is assumedly a meth fire. Wrong again. There are fairies too...and faeth(their drug of choice) is a bit more potent. When she is stolen from the hospital by Dave it sets everything into motion. Troll or Derby is very fast-paced, witty, comical, and even heartfelt in places. Be ready to encounter glamours, mansas, enchanted skates, rock n roll, unicorns, fairies, pixies, trolls, and one hell of a read. It seems to be leading to a sequel, and I hope that is the case. I've already recommended this book to a few people because it a fresh, unique, and enjoyable read.
Harlow is a prince troll who is betrothed to deb as a baby, just before their parents die. He is a protector and when she is 15 he must step up and take his place as her husband, but she's not so eager to be anyone's wife; she thinks she's human...and yet her powers are starting to develop.
i liked how she handled Dave, and got away from him; good scene. That's where it really started picking up and getting into the building tensions of the story.
I really think this would go over great for teens, but i have a reservation there because of the use of strong language which starts out right at the beginning and continues throughout the book. If there had been less of that, i would rate it the full five; children, nowadays are subjected to this on TV and in movies, and yes, in the home and on the street, but it does not improve a crafted work that will have a higher reader interest of teens than adults. that's my opinion, anyway.
The originality of Red Tash's "Troll Or Derby" is wonderful. Tash's other-world building is steady, and eventually, quite thorough, encompassing nearly aspect of the characters in the book. The story unfolds at a steady pace. At no point was I bogged down with details, but I did have good images painted by Tash's descriptions. The book is entertaining. It's a dark fantasy tale with quirky humor, some gory descriptions, and a few bouts of foul language. Although not a genre I typically read, I enjoyed it enough to give it five stars.
So aside from a single Christmas short story set in the same universe, this was my first reading of Red Tash. I have met Tash at author events and she comes highly recommended by an author I respect, so I was game, and I was entertained in all the ways intended. While the story has its dark moments, it never takes itself entirely seriously, which is probably a good approach. When you're dealing with trolls and fairies and goblins in an urban fantasy where characters weave between the real world and the "hidden world" of the magical, a certain levity is needed.
The story is straightforward, as is its telling. Our protagonist is Deb, a high school student and roller derby enthusiast. Comparisons to Harry Potter are obvious, in that she is a magical being raised by a cranky human and is kept ignorant of her special ability or of her place in this other world. Following a nasty trailer park fire, her sister is kidnapped, and so Deb is off to rescue her sister. Meanwhile, Harlow, a good-natured troll who lives under the.... uh.... dump.... is trying to help Deb help her sister. They are both compelled by magical forces neither of them completely understand.
The storytelling is also straightforward, told in first person, rotating the POV between a set of characters. This requires a bit of getting used to but is practiced by several authors within the fantasy genre. Each chapter has a character name at the top and is written from that character's point of view--most of the time, you are bouncing back and forth between Deb and Harlow. This approach greatly aids in the telling of the story and anyone put off by it needs to stick with it and challenge themselves, because there's a lot to love here.
As for the plot, the beginning is strong, the end is very strong, and the middle is interesting, though it lags a bit, mainly due to a follow the breadcrumbs plot thread that is never boring but never quite thrilling, either. Deb arrives at setting A, meets fascinating people, learns rules of the "Tash Verse", finds some clues that lead her to setting B, and off she goes. A couple chapters later, Harlow arrives at setting A, is told by someone he just missed Deb, but he might catch her at setting B, and off he goes. Then back to Deb, add new setting and repeat. This plot device helped Ms. Tash do some clever asides and build up her world, it was never boring, so easily forgivable by me.
Bottom line: Well Worth Your Valuable Time. I had a great time with Troll or Derby. I look forward to more from Ms. Tash. She is an independent author of entertaining urban fantasy with a unique voice and fun attitude. She has much to offer and is well worth checking out. If I could, I would click another half-star to this and award 4 and a half stars.