Life of Zarf: Troll Overboard
Land of Stories meets Dork Diaries in the third book of the hilarious fractured fairy tale series about an unpopular troll and his underdog pals
As a troll, Zarf is already at the bottom of the food chain when it comes to popularity at Cotswin Middle School. So when his Gramps shows up at career day, Zarf is sure his cool factor will hit an all-time low. What he doesn’t expect is for the super-obnoxious Prince Roquefort to take an interest in Gramps’s nautical know-how. Zarf is sure the prince is up to something . . . but why would he want Gramps to take him on a boat ride perilously close to the Berundi Rectangle? And why does he keep mumbling about magic beans?
Award-winning comic creator Rob Harrell has cooked up another laugh-out-loud funny fairy-tale romp. Packed with witty one-liners and clever twists on fairy-tale tropes, this series is pure magic for fans of The Decedents.
Excerpt from Life of Zarf: Troll Overboard
Chapter 1, A Rough Start
How did I end up here?
I was making my way along a thin ledge on the Dumpty Cliffs, gasping for breath and trying to ignore the two-hundred-foot drop to the rock-filled waves below. My shoulder kept grazing the rough wall as my paws scrambled to find an exposed root or something to hang on to.
Then there was the growling. I didn’t dare look back, but it was getting louder. That growl was packed full of anger and hatred and quite a bit of drool . . . wolf drool, to be specific.
I turned a sharp corner, and there—I don’t know how—was Prince Roquefort. As much as I can’t stand that little waste of oxygen, I was so happy to see him, I could have kissed him.
Okay, not kissed—but maybe a high five or a firm handshake. You get the idea.
Roquefort reached out with his stubby little gloved hand.
I grabbed his hand just as the ledge gave way under my paws, and I was suddenly hanging on to the prince for dear life. I heard the rocks falling and bouncing off of the cliff below me.
A mean little grin spread across Roquefort’s face. “Wow, troll. You’re even stupider than you look—which is really saying something!” He let out an insulting snort. “Have a nice fall!”
He threw his head back and started laughing his stupid hyena laugh as he relaxed his hand and let go.
Terror shot through me as I flipped backward into thin air. Time slowed down like a slow-motion replay.
There were some huge, bone-breaking boulders down there, but I was thinking I had a small chance of missing them . . . when something burst out of the water.
A shark. A gigantic jumping-through-the-air Shark Week shark—and I was headed right for it.
It was opening its mouth, revealing row after row of enormous teeth, when something burst forward from its throat.
It was a huge, snarling Snuffweasel, its fur matted with seawater and shark spit, its fangs gnashing and waiting to tear into me.
The weasel opened its mouth wider and wider . . . and then something burst out of its mouth.
That’s when I started screaming. It was the Big Bad Wolf, licking his big, gnarly-looking chops. He grinned up at me and spoke in a low growl.
I was three feet away as he opened his mouth impossibly wide. Then two feet away. Then I was sitting up in my bed screaming my lungs out into my dark bedroom.
I gasped as I realized I was awake. I frantically felt my legs and arms to make sure they were still attached. I heard heavy paws pounding down the hall as I sat there gulping air, my heart trying to slam its way out of my rib cage. My parents burst into the room.
I swallowed hard. “I’m okay. I’m fine. Just another . . . You know.”
Some of the tension came out of my mom’s shoulders as she sat down beside me. “Poor guy. I’m sure these things will fade away at some point.”
She put her paw on my shoulder—and quickly pulled it away. “Oh, you’re soaked.”
She reached back and felt my soggy pillow. “Why don’t you jump in the shower and I’ll change these sheets.”
(I’d like to make it perfectly clear that my sheets were soaked with SWEAT. I did NOT—I repeat, NOT—wet the bed. The last thing I need is any misinformation going around at school.)
I stood in the hot shower as the last of the shivers left my body. This was getting to be a habit. I’d been having night terrors almost nightly since our run-in with Big Bad. I hadn’t told Chester or Kevin about them. I just wasn’t ready to say anything—and Kevin was enough of a worry-factory without throwing this in the mix.
I dried off and put on fresh clothes my mom had set by the sink. When I walked into the bedroom, my dad was sitting on the edge of my freshly made bed.
I nodded as he stood up and held back the covers for me. I climbed in and he started tucking me in like he used to when I was little.
“These things’ll pass, Zarf. It’s just your brain working out some of the stuff you’ve been through.” He stepped back and put his hands on his hips. “But if you ever want to talk about it . . .”
I smiled weakly. “Thanks.”
He ruffled my hair and walked to the door. Then he turned. “And . . . you know I’d be there tomorrow if there was any way, right? It’s just . . . work. My boss . . .”
“I know you would, Dad. I understand.”
He gave me a crooked smile as an enormous snore echoed down the hall. I laughed.
My dad laughed back. “Nothing wakes your gramps.” Then he flipped off the light.
Let me explain a bit, for any newbies.
My name is Zarf Belford and I’m a troll. An Eastern Prairie Troll, if you’re into genealogy. I live with my parents and my gramps in a house under the Carousel Street Bridge. In the Village of Cotswin, in the Kingdom of Notswin.
I am—largely because of my smellier, furrier, floppy-eared traits—pretty much the lowest class of student at Cotswin Middle School. You may be thinking: “But, puppies are smelly, furry, and have floppy ears, and everyone loves them!” Well, trust me. It doesn’t carry over to trolls. I’m pretty used to it.
I get by, though. Big thanks go to my two best friends, Kevin and Chester, for helping me stay sane.
Okay. That’s all you get for now. The rest you’ll figure out as we go.
I woke up that next morning and counted my lucky stars that I hadn’t had another wolf dream after my midnight freak-out. Then I remembered it was Career Day.
Every Friday that month, Mr. Hirsch (period three: Fable Studies) was having three parents come in to tell our class about what they do for a living. Today was supposed to be my dad’s visit, but his boss had decided at the last minute that he wasn’t giving him the time off. Now I was going to have to explain to the class that not only was my dad a mog diver, but he was also low enough on the totem pole that he couldn’t take the day off.
I am in no way embarrassed by my dad. He’s the hardest-working mog diver in the kingdom—as was my gramps before him. But mog diving isn’t exactly a glamorous job. (Mog is the stuff they use to make pencil erasers.)
It’s common knowledge that trolls aren’t the sharpest swords in the arsenal, so mog diving is a pretty common troll job. And we’re not exactly first pick for upper management jobs within the company either.
I was thinking about all of this while I pushed some scrambled Swampfrog eggs around on my plate.
But that all left my mind when Kevin showed up. I almost didn’t hear his weak little knock at the door, and when I opened it, he looked like a Weepy Gnome after a viewing ofOld Yeller. He was snorting and wiping his eyes and looked like he could barely hold his head up.
I pulled him inside. My mom had some extra Mutton-Tarts I thought might fix whatever was ailing him. “Who’s gone, Kev?”
Kevin seemed to crumple as he buried his face in his hooves. “MEREDITH THE MEAT GIRL!!” He was really sobbing now.
Kevin had once held hands (and hooves) with the butcher’s daughter Meredith after a group of us went to a movie. They held hands for about two minutes, that is, but Kevin had talked about it ever since as if theirs was one of the great breathless romances of all time.
I ducked into the kitchen and brought out a handful of Mutton-Tarts. Kevin turned away, insulted. “My heart is broken, Zarf. I can’t even think about food.”
Then I guess he caught a whiff of them. He slowly looked back over his shoulder, sniffling.
He snuffled out an explanation about how Meredith had sent him a “Let’s just be friends” text that morning.
I spent the walk to school trying to console him, but the poor little guy was really beside himself. A couple of times he had to stop and bend over like he’d been punched in the gut.
Chester met us at the edge of the ball field and tried to help out—in typical Chester fashion.
“You’ll be okay, Kev. I um . . .” You could tell he was really trying to find the right thing to say. “Did you hear why the gnome broke up with his girlfriend at the gym?”
Kevin just wiped his snout and glared at Chester.
Kevin groaned, put his head down, and shuffled into the school. I gave Chester a “Really?” look and we walked in together. Chester looked baffled.
“I just thought a funny joke might help!”
“Yeah!” I gave him a sideways glance. “A funny one might have!”