Trolls in the Hamptons, by Celia Jerome
Going in, I didn’t have any expectations for this book. But it made promises right away, and I don’t think it really kept them.
This author/illustrator named Willow Tate designs a troll to be a character in her new book. Then she sees him on the street outside her flat, destroying things. She calls 911 and finds that everyone else reporting the incident saw a red trolley, not a red troll. A cop comes to question her, and the superfluous details begin in earnest.
- He’s good-looking and flirts with her. This comes to nothing as he is soon replaced with another love interest. That wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t for the fact that it’s obvious that the writer pushed him out of the way because she thought of someone she liked better–and even worse, the first seeming love interest is black, and the one who replaces him is white.
- There is a half-hearted attempt to get the cop together with her cousin–which also peters out pointlessly–and he hangs out with Willow in a pointless scene later, but other than that, he’s shunted off. A good editor would have probably advised his removal.
- Many, many unimportant characters. Willow’s agent/editor/I’vealreadyforgotten is a good example of a particularly useless one, though he is definitely beaten by Mrs Abbottini, the neighbour.
- The police investigation of the troll incident and the second one, again near her, also come to nothing. Mighty Whitey (love interest numbah two) and his secret organisation take over.
MW tells her that her hometown is a breeding ground (somewhat literally) for fae/human crossbreeds–or rather, their descendants. The “real” plot is introduced: a little boy, son of a fairy rapist and his victim, can call fae from across the barrier, was kidnapped. His power, working with Willow’s, is bringing the troll into the human side.
They have to be in proximity with each other for this to work, so MW wants Willow to go to her hometown, trusting the captors to take the kid out there after her. She refuses, but coincidence gets her there anyway. This looks more like bad writing than MW manipulating events.
Once there, the story is basically just about the strange people in the town, and her stupid mother’s obnoxious dogs. She and MW shack up, and the troll shows up once or twice so that we can be reminded of why the title is what it is. There is even a title drop and a load of self-indulgent shill about being a writer.
The kidnapper turns out to be a total stranger with no setup. He kidnaps Willow, and she saves the kid. The troll takes him back to fairy land.
The title drop is of the worst kind: she names the book she is writing about the troll after the book she is actually in. She brings up a sequel, and lo, it is the name of the real life sequel. Neither of her books could possibly have anything like the plot of the book she lives in, so I don’t get the real life author’s purpose in doing this. It looks really stupid. At least in The Raven Prince, there were just parallels between the book and an in-universe fairy tale called The Raven Prince.
Anyway, the title, to me, is almost a lie. Trolls in the Hamptons. She takes at least ten chapters (more?) to get to the Hamptons in the first place, and the single(!) troll barely shows up anywhere or for any length of time. Most of the characters are unimportant or hateful, especially her family, and the supernatural element is not only largely informed–aside from the rare thing that happens right in front of her, which is usually the same thing–but also manages to be incredibly dull.
The writing isn’t really bad, but it kept making me think that the author’s first language is not English. Not to be insulting, it’s my legitimate impression. She uses some phrases incorrectly, has a habit of not using contractions in dialogue where the speakers are much more likely to have used them, and some of her references are a little too up-to-date.