Crazy, Quirky Paranormal: Book Review of Troll or Derby by Red Tash

Troll or Derby is a crazy, quirky, high-energy fairy tale that’s modern yet traditional at the same time. It has trolls and faes but not like you’ve ever seen them before. They have 21st century attitude and attributes. The heroine, and one of the book’s narrators, is Deb. We meet her briefly as a child when in some way she is pledged to the troll Harlow, who becomes her close companion, but most of the action takes place now she is 15. Her hopeless mother expects her to look after her older sister, pretty much full-time, and the story starts fittingly with Deb rescuing Gennifer from a blazing caravan. That’s a suitably disturbing opening for a novel about a somewhat dystopian fantastical society with corrupt cops, crime and disillusionment, stupidity, and a rather stiflingly inbred population. The only place Deb feels happy is on the skating rink. Deb is top-class roller skater, a skill that’s going to come in useful as well as keep her sane in her crazy world.

The author has a wicked sense of humour, with Sk8r Boi leprechauns, some exaggerated violence and off-the-wall characters. Add this to the requisite paranormal features of prophecies to fulfil, orphans planted on human families, otherworldly characters, magic and the fight between good and evil, and you get a very entertaining read in a popular genre. Red Tash keeps the pace high, and swaps the veiwpoint from Deb to Harlow throughout, which adds an extra dimension to the story. The language is modern and gritty, making for one very original and down-to-earth fantasy.