Blood City Rollers cover art
(Labyrinth Road)

Blood City Rollers

Writer: V.P. Anderson
Artist: Tatiana Hill
Publisher: Labyrinth Road
Publication Date: April 9

Mina has been ice skating since she was three and she’s on track to make it to the Olympics before she even graduates high school—until a fall at a major competition results in a broken arm and a bad score.

Mina loves skating. She doesn’t love how intense the competition is to get to skate professionally—especially since her mom constantly puts so much pressure on her. Mina is 13 years old and spends all of her spare time training. Now, she won’t be able to do that, and the yawning void of empty time ahead of her is frightening.

Or it would be if she wasn’t kidnapped by a couple of vampire roller derby players right after her fall. Mina is taken to a secret hideaway where she meats the Vamps, an all-vampire team in the Paranormal Roller Derby league. Per league rules, jammers have to be human, but the rest of each team is made up of extra-humans. The Vamps are all vampires, but other teams are made up of witches, fairies, and other paranormal creatures.

In exchange for agreeing to train as the team’s new jammer and not tell other humans a single soul about them or the PRD, team captain Val Halla gives Mina a bottle of Haterade (which contains a little bit of Val’s blood) to heal her arm. Mina balks at first but then drinks it and is amazed to see and feel her arm heal within seconds. She decides to roll with the punches, which is made easier by the presence of another human jammer, Swan Song, who’s been assigned to backup because she doesn’t know how to skate well enough for PRD-sanctioned events. Mina, on the other hand, is a natural once she gets used to the difference in skating on a track with wheels rather than on ice with blades.

What follows is a fast-paced free-for-all as Mina develops a crush, tries to make friends with someone who immediately dislikes her, forms a lasting friendship with Swan, and figures out who she is and what she wants. Being 13 is weird and hard, and fitting into a team dynamic where you are truly an outsider is even more difficult. Blood City Rollers visits this theme throughout the story, constantly checking in with Mina to see what she’s thinking and feeling.

Writer V.P. Anderson successfully distinguishes each character’s voice, which is a big ask considering how many characters are in the team scenes. Their dialogue is snappy and fun, and their comedic timing is on point. Paired with Tatiana Hill’s highly-saturated, action-packed, meme-referencing illustrations, the pages of Blood City Rollers feel alive. Or perhaps, given the subject matter, undead?

All told, I thought this was a fantastic series debut and I can’t wait to read more. I had some questions at the end of the book that weren’t answered, but the “To be continued…” on the final page gives me hope that I’ll get answers at some point. This was a delightful, queer, middle-grade romp about doing what you love and finding your people, even if you never would have expected to fit in with a certain group over another.

Queerness is never treated as abnormal or bad, though it’s a theme throughout, especially as the characters find family with each other. For younger readers who may worry about how their queerness separates them from their current group of friends or their blood family, Blood City Rollers provides space to consider the importance of found family. The book is gorgeous to look at with a great story and I highly recommend it.

Final verdict: Buy