It’s no secret that I am utterly in love with Jane Yolen and pretty much every single thing she writes, from children’s books to amazing speculative fiction short stories in adult compilations. She’s pretty much one of the queens of the modern fairytale, and I will read anything with her name attached. When I saw that she had penned a young adult novel with her rock and roll musician son, Adam Stemple, I knew I had to read it.
Like I guessed, Troll Bridge: A Rock ‘n’ Roll Fairytale, was an enjoyable read, though I didn’t enjoy the format so much. It was told all in third person point of view, though some chapters were clearly from different character’s situations—which was fine—but some of it was through a few brief interludes featuring a radio station with updates in the “real” world, rather than in the fairytale land where it took place, and that was sort of annoying. It reminded me of novels I read as a child in school where we had to analyze setting or voice or whatever and it was used on purpose.
That said, it was still a really fun book with surprisingly gross and horrifying scenes—such as cannibalism!—and trickster gods/monsters that every story vitally needs, if you ask me. There were witty plans presented by young teens, as well as spins on two favorite tales—“The Twelve Dancing Princesses” and “The Three Billy Goats Gruff”—as well as tongue in cheek nods to pop culture references, such as the dairy princesses elected in a real small town. The composition between modern small town traditions and ancient cultures in the Midwest brought across the sea ages ago reminded me of the same ones that were so delightful and dark in Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, one of the best novels ever written. This is almost a teen version, with no sex, a pinch of romance, and a lot of trickery—and, of course, music.
The lyrics to the songs weren’t all that wonderful as far as songs go, but they were cute and fitting for the tale itself. I almost wish the book had come with a CD so we could hear much of it; I think I’ll be checking to see if there is an audio version next, as there is plenty of music playing and singing in the novel.
Troll Bridge would be a wonderful gift to the teen in your life who loves fairytales as well as music—weather it’s the classics or the latest boy band.