Liesel has lived her life in the shadows, constantly looking out for her younger brother and trying to look after a sister who wants nothing more than to be who she is. In her youth Liesel played with her siblings in the groove near their house with a strange boy, known to many as the Goblin King. Now, eighteen, her sister has gone missing and the Goblin King from their childhood has suddenly come back out to play.
We begin the book running with Liesel having an encounter with the Goblin King in the market with her sister, Kathe, who succumbs to his various charms. Later that night Kathe goes missing while Liesel is focused on her brother’s violin exam; running out she finds the Goblin King waiting for her and offering play a game. If Liesel can find Kathe she can have her back, if not, Kathe is locked in the Underworld. Of course Liesel finds Kathe and together they must try to escape his kingdom before they both become trapped forever.
I devoured the book very quickly and it pulled on my heartstrings at its conclusion. I adored how music was integrated into the story and how Jones describes the feeling of creating music and being one with it. Music becomes such an important part to one’s self and how one can express themselves, it truly becomes a part of you. Liesel was an extremely well written character in how she is one with the music she writes and how it is an expression of herself in that moment. Her ferocity is captivating.
Her ferocity comes much later in the novel. At the beginning her music is dampened by her father and dedication towards her brother and his music. She has been pushed aside and left to fend for herself, she is always needed for something yet she is not recognised for her talent and what she does. The need to be recognised come from the Goblin King.
This book could have been amazing if the Goblin king was more fleshed out and had more time spent on his mythology. We are given snippets at the beginning by Liesel’s grandmother and the rest from what Liesel pieces together in the Underworld. He was a very two dimensional character and most of the time extremely childish despite his age. From Liesel’s descriptions of him he changes between his current “form” (I’m calling it a form as there have been previous Kings) and previous ones, each with their own distinct personality. This did not work for me. There wasn’t enough information as to how he could be different King’s when they were all different people and not the same person changing over time. He was my only downside to the novel and being such an integral character I think more exposition could have gone into him.
The Underworld in which the King resides was described well and I could really picture this fantastical place. The gore and rotten images were vivid and alive, the senses play such a key part later in the novel and Jones has truly evoked as many as she could in the writing of this place. Again I would have liked to know more about the magic of this place and how it functions.
The ending was extremely emotionally and heart wrenching. Jones has created a beautiful novel about self-acceptance, love, sacrifice and family. I would recommend this book to any fantasy lover and to take the Goblin King with a pinch of salt.
Apologies- Kathe has an accent over the “a” in her name which my word document did not like.