Jane Yolen & Adam Stemple
For sixteen-year-old harpist prodigy Moira, the annual Dairy Princess event in Vanderby is just another lame publicity op. Twelve girls have been selected to have their likenesses carved in butter and displayed on the Trollholm Bridge. Its a Vanderby State Fair tradition that has been going on for, like, ever. As far as Moira is concerned, the sooner its over with the butter er better. About the same time and not far away, three brothers members of the sensationally popular teen boy band The Griffsons are in the middle of a much-needed road trip to relax from the pressures of their latest tour. In a flash, the kids are suddenly transported to a strange and mystical wilderness where they are caught in the middle of a deadly tug-of-war struggle between a magical fox named Fossegrim and the monstrous troll Aenmarr of Austraegir. At the heart of the feud is a battle for possession of a mysterious magical fiddle and an ancient compact between Trollholm and the outer world. Unfortunately for Moira and the Griffsons, nothing in Trollholm is as it seems. Finding a way out of Trollholm may be a lot more difficult than they think.
I got both of Yolen/Stemple's "Rock and Roll Fairy Tale" books (the other is Pay the Piper) for $1 each, and was super excited because the concept and titles hooked me. Though I have yet to read Pay the Piper, Troll Bridge was a little disappointing. I mean, it was cute enough, and a quick read for sure, but it was just...shallow in the telling. It never really grabbed me enough to make me need to keep reading.
I'm not entirely sure where the fault lies. Part of it, I think, is that it's definitely more middle grade, and I wasn't expecting that, and I don't know that my brain ever fully shifted over and altered expectations. I kept thinking that it would have been nice to have more development and depth, but that's partly because I was coming at it thinking it was aimed for an older audience. I think, too, that the musical elements, and the sort of poprock poetry/songs ala what I assume the Jonas Brothers write (and lord help me if my little sister ever reads this), felt forced at times, and where on occasion they were cute and bolstered the story, at other times, they just seemed unnecessary and a little silly. It's hard, because it's a part of the story, and it's really a crucial part at that, but it just didn't always feel natural. Part of me wonders if this was due to the attempted blending of Yolen's writing and Stemple's (her son). Books with multiple authors are writing a book and trying to make their combined writing seamless seem to struggle to me. (At least where each author isn't writing their own segments from a set POV. The blending just never seems to work for me.)
But I did like Moira, who was a fun, plucky heroine, and I liked the brothers, and the predicaments they found themselves in. The fairy tale elements - both the tales that were woven in and the typical tropes found in fairy tales - were used in a fun way, and I don't consider the book a waste of my time. I was more ambivalent in the beginning, which was slightly rocky for me (but again, as I said, this could be due to the fact that I was expecting a YA read, not a MG); but as it went along and they found themselves deeper in the world of Trollholm, it became more readable and fun, and the ending, though a bit abrupt, was enjoyable.
All in all, it was a quick, fun and silly read, though flawed and not entirely memorable.