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.
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.
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.