The Goblins of Bellwater

by Molly Ringle

Be forewarned: this book is odd and full of sex, and will mess with you. It’s not a usual kind of novel, and definitely not contemporary romance as it’s being advertised. All this aside, I think I loved this novel, but I’m left unsure because of just how strange it was. Ever see the movie “Dark City,” or “Labyrinth”? Even “Pan’s Labyrinth”? A bit like that.

Summary

A contemporary romance inspired by Christina Rossetti’s eerie, sensual poem, “Goblin Market.” Four neighbors encounter sinister enchantments and a magical path to love in a small, modern-day Puget Sound town, where a fae realm hides in the woods and waters…

Most people have no idea goblins live in the woods around the small town of Bellwater, Washington. But some are about to find out. 

Skye, a young barista and artist falls victim to a goblin curse in the forest one winter night, rendering her depressed and silenced, unable to speak of what happened. Her older sister, Livy, is at wit’s end trying to understand what’s wrong with her. Local mechanic Kit would know, but he doesn’t talk of such things: he’s the human liaison for the goblin tribe, a job he keeps secret and never wanted, thrust on him by an ancient family contract.

Unaware of what’s happened to Skye, Kit starts dating Livy, trying to keep it casual to protect her from the attention of the goblins. Meanwhile, unbeknownst to Kit, Skye draws his cousin Grady into the spell through an enchanted kiss in the woods, dooming Grady and Skye both to become goblins and disappear from humankind forever.

It’s a midwinter night’s enchantment as Livy, the only one untainted by a spell, sets out to save them on a dangerous magical path of her own.

Musings

This book falls more under the umbrella of “Magical Realism” than contemporary romance, in my opinion. The fascinating world of the goblins is explored, and boy does it put you on edge the whole way through! The author has an incredible talent for drawing you into the story, all while making you feel simultaneously attracted and repulsed by what you read.

One of the biggest complaints I’ve seen in reviews has been that the romance(s) felt forces, and the sex was terrible. I think that was the point, and if so, then I really, really appreciate it. It was so different from what I’m used to reading! The relationships are toxic and odd,  so… human. These four people are linked by blood, love, or by lust, and it ties them together in such a way that their lives depend on each other. It’s surreal and unusual. All in all, don’t come into this expecting a meet cute and romance, prepare to feel uncomfortable as heck.

The atmosphere is so macabre. I loved feeling dragged into this world, and the idea of goblins in the forest, stealing your iPhones, felt like a refreshing update on a tale as old as time. The challenges Livy faces at the end completely encompass the adventure of a fairy tale hero, and I love that the love of her sister brings her through.

So long as you’re willing to read a book that will leave you feeling icky and uncertain, then you should give this book a try. Do not go into it looking for romance: get ready for the disgusting side of magic, and especially, for the Goblins.

 

 

Advertisements

Get it Together, Delilah!

by Erin Gough
Reviewed by SA

I did not expect this book to grab me so tightly. I had been struggling lately with YA lit, worrying I might not enjoy it anymore. Well, Get it Together, Delilah! proved me wrong. What I was missing were characters as vibrant and real as Delilah, and she made the book come alive. Gosh, I am happy. Plus – it’s Australian!

Summary30842388

Seventeen-year-old Delilah Green wouldn’t have chosen to do her last year of school this way, but she figures it’s working fine. Her dad is on a trip to fix his broken heart after her mom left him for another man, so Del’s managing the family café in his absence. Easy, she thinks. But what about:

  • homework and the nasty posse of mean girls making her life hell
  • or how one of Del’s best friends won’t stop guilt-tripping her
  • and her other best friend is so in love with his tutor he might go to jail for her if Del doesn’t do something

But who cares about any of that really, because above all else, she can’t stop thinking about beautiful Rosa who dances every night across the street until one day Rosa comes in the café door …

And if Rosa starts thinking about Del, too, then how in the name of caramel milkshakes will Del get the rest of it together?

Musings

Delilah’s a character with depth and dimension. She’s bold, stubborn, and adorable. This is also the first time I’ve read a lesbian character who didn’t feel like a cliché: she felt like any real teenager. She has crushes on the cute girls in her life, especially on Rosa, the flamenco dancer from across the street. But her past experience with love hasn’t been so good: seeing how being ‘out’ in high school isn’t exactly easy.

I don’t even really know where to start on my review, because I just so happened to like every aspect of this book. It read like real life, the characters were realistic and relatable, and just so engrossing. The plot itself is simple: Delilah’s trying to run her father’s café – the Flywheel – as he travels through Asia (coping with his wife’s leaving him for another man), while also finishing school, maintaining friendships, and falling head over heels for the girl next door.

But soon, the café itself is running her life, and it’s hard on a 17 year old to deal with thieving employees, and competition with chains. Soon, it’s consumed her life, and it begins to drag everything else down with it. She has to drop out of school to work full time, and it’s taking a toll on her relationships as well. Eventually, the stress causes her to alienate the people who love her most.

When I put it like that, it sounds dark and depressing – but it’s not. The book is bursting with life. The characters jump off the page, each one probably impossible to sum up in just one line. And the fact that this all takes place in Australia just makes it even more exciting. Plus a cute romance I actually was rooting for!

All in all, what else can I say than this book is perfect? I really cannot sum it up into words. The style was simple and elegant, the characters complex and vibrant, the relationships so realistic. Not to mention I’m a sucker for a happy ending. I would give this book six stars if I could.

Expected publication: April 4th 2017 by Chronicle Books. (First published February 1st 2015 as “Flywheel”)