Book Review : Goblin Secrets by William Alexander
Graba is a witch who lives in Southside in Zombay collecting children to run her errands. Rowan has mysteriously left leaving his younger brother, Rownie, feeling misplaced. Play acting is forbidden in Zombay at the edict of the Mayor, however, goblins can put on a stage play because they are not human or citizens under the law. Rownie is drawn to the goblin’s play and is invited to participate. Rownie discovers he has some talent working with the masks, but is caught by Graba and brought home to be punished. Unbelievably Rownie, defies Graba running away and is brought under the protection of the goblins. There is the continual warning that the floods are coming and Rownie faces the problem as he learns of the true power of masks.
Adult Point of View
I was quite confused through this book because it lacks the back story to make sense of all the elements that have been combined.
1 – Steampunk.
Many of the people have mechanical parts, though there is no explanation as to why this is part of Zombay. It does not feel necessary to the plot or place.
2 – Power source.
Coal, which powers some of the mechanical creature, is derived from burning a heart. (How confusing is that?) Perhaps the power source should not have been named coal, since we already know how coal exists.
3 – Magic.
Zombay is a world where words can make it true. Masks have the power to change a person and the words a person says. Graba, a magical witch, reminded me of Baba Yaba the Russian folkloric witch, who is described as having chicken legs and moves her house about. Graba has mechanical legs which are bird-like and picks up her house to move it all over Southside. Graba also used pigeons for her eyes as spies. I believe the author intended to have Graba and Semele be the copies of the girl whose image was duplicated through a mirror, which spurred Graba’s hatred for Semele, but it was never explained.
4 – River.
The river is going to flood the lower part of the city and needs to be controlled through magic. The general population seems to have forgotten the need for play acting to control the forces of nature. The river also seems to be magic.
5 – Theatre.
The theatre was the element which served to combine all of the other elements to make some cohesiveness. The descriptions of the plays seem very simplistic for an unsophisticated audience. It is really through the magic of the words becoming true that the theatre holds any power.
Even though Goblin Secrets was creative and original, I never felt satisfied with the telling or the outcome. I felt compelled to finish reading the tale though I had to re-read sections thinking I must have skipped a paragraph because the thoughts within the book jump so suddenly. Overall Goblin Secrets was too convoluted.
There was nothing I would consider inappropriate in the novel, but I cannot recommend it highly because it didn’t make a lot of sense and I believe it would be very difficult for children to understand.
2 out of 5 stars
– the Mother
Teen Point of View
I didn’t bother to pass it on to my daughter.