SUMMARY of ‘The Troll’s Toll’(the first novella)

LILLY is the middle princess of seven, middle child of ten, and like most middle children feels lost in the crowd. Except she really is. Her father is a wastrel, gambling away the families wealth while trying to marry his plethora of daughters off to try and bring some more money in. He literally bets Lilly on a hand of cards to a creepy viscount, LURELL. Lucky for Lilly, her dad actually wins this hand, but she’s had it and is determined to leave.

Later that same night, they go to cross a troll bridge home and Dad’s done such a good job blowing his money he literally has nothing to pay the troll with, so he offers a daughter (because family in fairy tales are assholes). The Troll, GRAMBLE, goes to pick the prettiest daughter, ELSPETH, but Lilly moves without thinking and volunteers to save her sister.

While trying not to freak out about what she’s done Lilly realises she has just escaped her father, because they all know the bastard isn’t going to come back for her. But also, because feelings are complicated, she kinda wants him to. Spoiler alert – he doesn’t.

So Gramble only wanted a housemaid, instead he got a princess who can’t even make tea without burning herself.

As the two live together they grow a little closer, and Lilly becomes intrigued by the fact he’s always hidden, swaddled up in hoods, scarves and  gloves. Is he really a troll? In a classic fairy tale moment, she lulls him to sleep and risks a peek, but, because tropes need to be subverted, he really is a troll, his skin is stone and his face is all hard planes (think Red Dwarf’s Kryten). He wakes up, gets mad as all hell, and reveals his painful past which makes him fearful of showing the fact he’s stone skinned. (also revealing he’s actually half human half troll).

As soon as it seems things are peachy though, the big bad wolf shows up. No, I’m not joking. Gramble has a landlord who expects the toll bridges proceeds and rent. The wolf thinks Lilly looks pretty tasty so hikes the rent in the hopes Gramble will give her up instead of the gold. Gramble’s better than that, and has just enough to pay the hike, but the wolf threatens the next payment will be double.

The distressed pair try to come up with solutions, even trying in vain to invoice Lilly’s father for money owed plus interest. Naturally that goes nowhere. Then Lilly, ever the fan of wild stories (what fairy tales are called in this world), comes up with the idea of asking the Golden Griffin for a feather. The pair abandon the bridge and head off. They meet a few characters on the way, including a ferry man who can never stop rowing and a cute bakery assistant who is the sister of a different RTF series main character(Hannah from Charming for those who want to know). Finally they reach the Golden Griffin, who promptly tells them, no, solve your own shit(which apparently is what he tells everyone the first time they come to see him).

Dejected on their way home they realise the feather would only have helped them this month, they really did need the griffin’s tough love. They hatch a plan and spread a rumour they really did get the golden feather. They even have the bakery assistant (who’s father is an enchanter) make a normal feather appear gold.

The wolf hears the rumour and is ready and waiting for them on their return, they pretend it’s nothing to gve him the feather, and he asks why, and they spin a story about the ferryman, and how much treasure he has, and how Gramble will go do the ferryman’s job for a couple of months while the old man visits his family, and make enough money that they can go buy a house somewhere else.

The wolf is too busy seeing dollar signs to remember he’s in a fairy tale so insists on being the one to do it. Of course when the wolf gets there and takes the ferry mans oar he take the ferryman’s curse too. Thus no longer being a problem for Lilly and Gramble.

But there’s one problem left. Dear old dad. The rumour reached him too, and he comes to claim his daughter back, and of course her possessions – which includes the golden feather. Lilly finally stands up for herself and tells him she’s never coming back and he’ll never see her golden feather. Which gets him off her back for now, but sadly leads her into the problems of this volume…