Friday, February 22, 2013
Review: Goblin Secrets
by William Alexander
In the town of Zombay, there is a witch named Graba who has clockwork chicken legs and moves her house around—much like the fairy tale figure of Baba Yaga. Graba takes in stray children, and Rownie is the youngest boy in her household. Rownie’s only real relative is his older brother Rowan, who is an actor. But acting is outlawed in Zombay, and Rowan has disappeared.
Desperate to find him, Rownie joins up with a troupe of goblins who skirt the law to put on plays. But their plays are not only for entertainment, and the masks they use are for more than make-believe. The goblins also want to find Rowan—because Rowan might be the only person who can save the town from being flooded by a mighty river.
I picked up this book originally because not only did it win last year's National Book Award, but also because as a fantasy reader at heart, the premise just sounded too good to pass up! As I read, though, I found that I was having a hard time keeping interest in this book. It has a lot of really fascinating fantasy elements - there's a tie-in to the Baba Yaga myth, goblins, masks with power - but I think it was just the storytelling itself that couldn't grab me. I was a little disappointed that I had to push myself to finish this one.