The Prince and the Troll is more what I was looking for from Rainbow Rowell, more of what worked for the Simon Snow series when it did work, love by way of (mild) fantasy. You have a troll, who catches and returns a phone dropped from atop the bridge she lives under, and the titular “prince,” who begins treating her to (of fucking course) Starbucks every day on his way to work.
Rowell doesn’t dive too deep (pun intended) into the lore of the troll herself, seeming content to poke fun at what she isn’t (our “prince” confuses her with plenty of other magical beings), instead focusing primarily upon the relationship budding between these two.
It’s not all smooth sailing, since it never is with her, and you don’t get a fairy tale ending (actually, this is probably more akin to the fairy tale ending before Disney and others butchered people’s conception of what that meant), but it never stops being cute, and I hope Rowell writes more Simon Snow so she can sneak these in as an Easter Egg, like she did with Levi and Cath in… it was Landline, wasn’t it? Because this has to be in the same universe as those books, right?
Buuut, Rowell’s short stories always leave me wanting something long form from her instead and never match the heights of her novels. This is one of the few stories that comes close to capturing that magic, except it doesn’t quite get there.
P.S. I admittedly have found myself wondering if there might not be worth in having a separate leaderboard for total page count. Or something along those lines. I don’t want to say stuff like children’s books, poetry, etc. shouldn’t be allowed, as this is all about getting us to read, but it feels weird seeing numbers being boosted by stories that you blink and they’re over. I know my triple cannonball wouldn’t have happened were it not for things like collected comics and the like (and I’m only reviewing Rainbow Rowell’s separately released short stories because that seems par for the course based upon past reviewers). I didn’t read them to game the system, nor do I think anybody else is, but it just feels weird having total books being the only metric when we don’t know if we could be talking anything from children’s picture books to, I don’t know, Under the Dome. And I don’t see what having more metrics would hurt.