This is my first review on this blog for an, as yet, unpublished book! I am just really excited to have had a chance to read this ARC and share my thoughts with everyone – hopefully my feedback will help the author/publisher with any last edits and encourage some of you to buy/read the book when it comes out. Reading is something I value above almost anything else in my life. I’ve always dreamed of being an author and, maybe, someday I will be. But for now at least, the chance to be involved in this stage of the process is step that I’m psyched to have taken! If my review makes this book sound like something you’d like to read, then add it on Goodreads and keep an eye out – the book is expected to be published October 1, 2017.
“This book tells the story of four young adults who live in a small town in present day Washington (state). Although no one knows but Kit, who is connected to them by a curse put on his family generations ago, there are real goblins (and fae) that live in the forests around Bellwater. One night Skye, an artist and barista at a local coffee shop, is lured into the goblins lair and cursed. But afterwards she’s unable to talk about it, so everyone, including her sister Livy, is completely surprised by the sudden depression she seems to be in, and unsure what to do about it. When Livy starts “seeing” Kit, and Kit’s cousin Grady (who’s living with him for awhile) is pulled into Skye’s curse, things come to a head. And Livy, the only one of the four who is not afflicted by goblin curses, and who has a special connection to the local flora/fauna through her job with the state parks, must set out on her own adventure to save them all.
This is a really entertaining new adult fantasy/romance. It’s a light, quick read, that kept me interested with it’s well handled pacing and original twists on the traditional fairy tales about following mushroom paths, eating their foods, and making deals. The characters are all a little older than the traditional YA fantasy genre characters, all being at least 21 and older, and facing real adult problems like finding jobs and making a living and following your passion. Don’t get me wrong, I loved a good YA fantasy/romance, but this was definitely refreshing to read, since at this point I more closely identify with these struggles than high school ones.
Overall, as I mentioned, the pacing is really well done. Relationships had time to begin and develop in a believable time frame and the tension that built before everyone’s “secrets” were out in the open created the perfect amount of realistic suspense. Considering the need for the trust of new friends/couples to grow, along with the super limited means of communication available for information to flow through, this was necessary and important for a reasonable unfolding of the plot. The mix of present day details, like iPhones, and the more mystical elements, like fairy magic, was executed smoothly. Also, it was really cool to read, since it’s not something I see often. Normally there is a whole “we start in this world and when the fairies show up we move into their parallel but completely separate realm that has no connection to the real world” situation. Again, I don’t hate that type of story at all, but the difference here was unique and definitely enjoyable as such. Plus, for someone who loves magic, I loved this representation of the possibility of real co-existence.
There were a few other details I loved as well. One was the way the elements (earth, air, water, fire) were used in this story was awesome. I know they are a cliched part of magic, but they got that way for a reason. And my husband and I have a huge soft spot for them – he even has a large tattoo representing them on his back/shoulder. So when they are used well, as they were here, I can’t help but melt a little towards the story. Skye being an artist was used perfectly here, for communication and story progression, as well as the cute ending. Her gift(s) to her sister and the way she uses their experiences for a personal project is creative and perfect given the situation. It allows the four of them to share everything with/in the “real” world but still mostly keeps the worlds separate. On theme with many other aspects of the story, the single volume telling of this story (this is not a trilogy or longer series) and violencelessness (yup, I made up that word) of the ending is something unusual I don’t often see and was refreshing as well. Finally, it’s a small thing, but the last line is hella cute.
A few things did bother me. Overall the dialogue and interactions flowed well, but there were a few times that things were awkward. This happened, in particular, when the “couples” were talking with each other. Not every time, but enough that I feel it’s worth mentioning. Also, the “sacrifice”’ at the end. As I said, I liked how generally clean the denouement was, the way ending the curse(s) was handled, and the way loopholes in the magical rules were used. But the sacrifice that was made, itself, was kinda weird in its symmetry. I liked how it was put into everyone’s minds like it had always been the case, but it was not really explained why it was necessary and it just seemed…weird. Last, and likely the biggest overall critique, is that the characters were fairly two-dimensional. Maybe it’s just because the story happened over a such a short period of time. And to be fair, I enjoyed them and their relationships and I think those relationships within the story were overall written and developed well, but as individuals they were all just fairly normal, uninspired in the depth with which they were created.
Overall, this was a fun, easy, and entertaining read. I would definitely recommend it to a new adult crowd interested in a light fantasy with characters that they could really identify with as they experience a well-balanced current day life and a singular magical adventure. A little warning (or more like “heads up”) to anyone going into it, this novel is based on Christina Rossetti’s eerie, sensual poem, “Goblin Market.” I had not read it prior to picking up this book, so I check out some excepts. What I learned is twofold: 1) I definitely want to read it now, and 2) When they sensual they mean it. The Goblins of Bellwater definitely took the carnal innuendo of “Goblin Market” and ran with it, so don’t be surprised by it (and, of course, enjoy it, it’s tastefully done)!”
I received an ARC of this book, provided by the publisher, Central Avenue Publishing, via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.