Title: The Goblins of Bellwater
Author: Molly Ringle
Publisher: Central Avenue Publishing, 2017 (Oct 1)
Genre: NA Fantasy
**I received a copy of this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review**
First of all, happy belated Friday the 13th! What’s a better book to review than one about Goblins?
If any of you are familiar with Christina Rossetti’s poem, “Goblin Market” (1861), then you’ll understand the reference of Goblins to young maidens. If not, I’d advise you to skim over the poem before reading The Goblins of Bellwater, but it’s not totally necessary. But it does enhance the reading experience: I read the poem in my British Literature class, and it helped me with Wintersong and this book, as both are inspired by the poem.
As you can see, there is a sexual undertone to the poem…are the Goblins offering real fruit or are they offering forbidden lust? But I digress…I don’t want to spoil anything from our main book, The Goblins of Bellwater.
First, let’s all drool over the cover together now!
Now, just a note: I am typically a YA reviewer. This doesn’t mean I don’t review other books though, especially when they have academic merit. Ringle’s book, with its similarities to Rossetti’s poem, made it a book I needed to read. Though I thought it was YA going in, it’s a little explicit for the YA crowd (and Ringle told me it was New Adult). In the “Classroom” section, I will expand upon this in further detail, but I wanted to mention it since it is different than my “traditional” choice. I hope you will continue reading this review because my older YA readers will really appreciate this book.
Now to get into the story!
There are several POVs, and I’m always a fan of that kind of storytelling. We start with Kit, a human liaison for the Goblin tribe. His job? Keep the Goblins happy by providing them with gold…so that they don’t try and bring people to them to rob. If he can keep them sated, then no one will be attacked. Unfortunately, he comes up short…which is when we meet Skye,
Skye is a barista and an artist, and she has always been happy. Her fanciful imagination leads her to the woods often, where she swears she hears people calling her and paths opening up for her to follow. Normally, she wouldn’t answer, but she follows one night and encounters the Goblins, who are happy to find a new recruit into their fold. And since Kit was short, it makes sense to the leader to take matters into her own hands…
Livy is Skye’s older sister, and she works for the Parks department. Her job is to make sure the land and forests stay clean. When her sister starts acting melancholy and won’t respond to talk about what happened to her, Livy is worried. It’s just she and Skye, and she is so worried about her sister’s lack of interest in all around her. What happened and why won’t she tell her?
Grady is Kit’s cousin, and since he has come to the small town of Bellwater, Washington, he doesn’t know what to do besides use his chef skills to make Kit lunch and dinner. While walking through the forest, he comes across Skye, who pleads with him to help her. And then she kisses him. And now Grady can’t forget about the girl in the forest and how magical she seemed, as well as incredibly sad.
When all four paths intertwine, it appears the Goblins have more control than Kit could ever imagine. And it might be too late for some citizens of the small town of Bellwater.
Is It Classroom-Appropriate?
Ok, so I’m going to break it down. This is not a high school book. It’s New Adult. It’s meant for older readers of YA or readers of adult. That NA category may not be as popular as it should be, and I’m sure we can think of some books that would make more sense under the NA category (hint, hint, ACOMAF/Wintersong). However, Ringle could have put this in YA like the other authors did…but she didn’t, because she knows that the material is a little racy for younger readers. I applaud her for that.
This book would be great at college level, though. Using it as an approach to learning Goblin Market and 19th century poetry that is similar to Rossetti would be perfect. I myself didn’t find it too racy for me, and I can be prudish. I mean, there was sex. Lots of sex. But it wasn’t explicit sex. There was a reason for the sex. It made sense in the book and it wasn’t tacky.
So if you’re thinking of teaching Rossetti and want a tie-in, or you just generally like fantasy books and you understand that there are some adult situations, then I encourage you to read Ringle’s book.
So for classroom use at a high school level, I would rate The Goblins of Bellwater:
Just leave it for college, guys. 😉
I’m obviously not going to recommend this book for the young readers out there. I would be comfortable at 16 and up. If you are more likely to censor racy material and didn’t allow your young reader to read ACOMAF, then go with good judgement and only allow your reader to pick it up once they are an “adult,” though I never believed the magic number 18 made anyone an adult. Just sayin’.
I LOVED The Goblins of Bellwater. It was intense ans original ans magical. It had journeys and defined boundaries and great storytelling. The writing was excellent. I obviously give it a full ★★★★★. All the way. If I could give it more, I would.
For more on the poem, “Goblin Market,” click on the picture to be taken to the YouTube reading of the poem: