Rent in New Metta is through the cavern ceiling. When Granu barely survives her first gig teaching students who attempt to fillet her for lunch, the baby-eating troll ends up unemployed and facing eviction. Granu’s only prospect for income is grueling work in the tar pits. That is, until her playboy best friend devises a perfect, if suicidal, scheme—a heist!
The Covered Bridge, the largest source of income for the city, has New Metta well under hoof. In a week, TCB Corporation pulls in enough cash to buy a small country. It’s the ideal target, but security is top-notch. Granu needs three things to survive this heist: a crew of specialists, impenetrable sun protection, and gallons of grog.
There’s just one thing Granu doesn’t plan for—those damn meddling billy goats.
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Later, they wrote stories for their offspring about trolls, goats, flying pigs, and wishes, convinced they had created entire worlds from nothing but their own minds. The human ego was nearly a match for human stupidity.
What’s a troll to do when they’ve lost their job, are being hounded by their landlord for back rent, have far too much time on their hands, and moths are practically flittering out of their pockets? They mastermind a plan to rob The Covered Bridge Corporation blind, of course. TCB Corporation is one of the most lucrative and influential businesses in all of New Metta, sitting atop a mountain of cash, and Granu needs that cash. Alongside her childhood besties, Kradduk and Fillig, she must do whatever it takes to find the clandestine vault and relieve those piggish swog owners of their fortune. If that’s not difficult enough in itself, TCB has eyes and ears everywhere, and it seems like the more they try to keep their scheme under wraps, the more others want a piece of the pie. Can Granu and the gang pull off the heist of a lifetime, or will they be left out in the sun, becoming stone sentinels as a warning to the future ambitious to never cross The Bridge?
Double-Crossing the Bridge is a refreshingly unique and hilarious twist on your run-of-the-mill fantasy heist story. In an expansive underground society, out of sight from those pesky, unintelligent humans, various species co-exist amongst each other, working, and living, and surviving. After a hard night at the job, it’s not uncommon to head on over to the local pub for a flagon of grog, and a tasty plate of crispy fairy wings and infant spines, with a side of hearty toddler stew. Rent needs to be paid, respect needs to be given, and the goats need to be avoided at all costs. In this world, when a troll is riding high on a lucky streak, they need to keep a wary eye out for the billy goats, who surely wish to prevent them from climbing the ladder of success any further. When all fails, you still need to scrape out a living somehow – the rich are too rich, and the poor are too poor. It’s time to finally balance the scales.
While this story is splashed with a humor that keeps you laughing throughout, it also tackles several very serious injustices that currently plague our own world. Corruption and gender/racial/socioeconomic inequality within the corporate workplace, discrimination and bigotry towards things one has no control over (as seen with the Billy Goat Blight), and being unfairly judged based on your outward appearance. The ways in which these issues are addressed are remarkably intelligent, using a bit of lightheartedness, and oftentimes exaggerated behavior, preventing the book from becoming overly political. Yes, these issues exist, and yes they are often overlooked, but Double-Crossing the Bridge is all about the consequences of these unfair transgressions. And these consequences are oh so satisfying.
Sover has given breath and voice to some amazingly fleshed out characters, with their own needs and desires hidden far beneath the surface. Granu, the educator with a mind built for cautious planning, but a deep-seated fear of her violent past repeating itself. Kradduk, the playboy trust fund troll, whose sole goal is to avenge the wrongdoings bestowed upon his beloved mother. Fillig, the overly-serious hopeless romantic, concealing an unexpected bravery and loyalty beneath his leathery skin. Len, the unattractive computer nerd, and Lyssa, the beautiful demolitions expert, both of whom complete the rest of the ragtag crew, outwardly seem invested in the plan, but silently scheme in the shadows towards another end. These characters feel so…human, but “trollified” (yes, this is now a thing). Each chapter allows us to get a further glimpse beyond the facade, proving nothing is at it seems, making this a gripping and enjoyable read.
The plot is pretty straightforward and easy to follow, as we witness the birth of the idea of a heist, through planning, execution, deceit, and the aftermath. The story itself moves along at a comfortable, steady pace, always presenting the reader with essential information and little fluff. The amusing references to real-world aspects, many of which hit very close to home personally, had me laughing out loud – the failings of higher education, turning down free tacos (a travesty, really), and a campaign to “Make the Bridge Great Again”. There are tons of pop culture references littered throughout, just waiting to be discovered.
Double-Crossing the Bridge is definitely a book that embraces the weird and extraordinary, and one I feel deserves to be in the spotlight. It’s playful when it needs to be, sincere and serious when called for, and exceptionally emotional, even though emotions are considered weakness by our lovely trolls. I’ve always been a fan of the bordering-on-ridiculous, and while the official blurb is what initially caught my attention, I was pleasantly surprised with how this exceeded my expectations. If you’re looking for something that isn’t afraid to color outside the lines, give you a good laugh, and FINALLY give you the “monster’s” perspective, then this is what you’ve been waiting for. An excellent debut, and tons of fun.
NOTE: I want to give a huge thanks the The Parliament House for providing me with an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.