The Princess and the Goblin, by George MacDonald

The Princess and the Goblin, by George MacDonald

Reason for Reading: Group read with Simpler Pastimes

Review
This classic fairy-tale-style story is set in a land where the Goblins and Humans have had a “cold war” for many, many years. Long ago, the Goblins threatened that some day they will steal a princess…and their day finally comes when Princess Irene’s nurse accidentally keeps the Princess out after sunset. Luckily, they are rescued by a miner’s boy, Curdie – but now the Goblins know where the Princess lives and what she looks like. When the Goblins hatch a devious plot, Curdie and Irene become fast-friends as they act in turn as heroes. First and foremost, this is a fairy-tale. But it is also an allegory about faith. Princess Irene has a great-great-grandmother – a mysterious and heavenly woman that only she can see. Irene’s very-great grandmother gives the Princess a magical string and tells her to follow the string whenever she’s afraid – never doubting it or deviating from it, regardless of where it may take her. Irene must learn to have faith even when she thinks that the string has led her astray. And Curdie must learn to have faith in a very-great grandmother that he has never seen.  This is a sweet story, nice for reading aloud to young children. 

Goblin Secrets, By William Alexander

2012 Book 167: Goblin Secrets, by William Alexander

Reason for Reading: This book won the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature in 2012

Review
Rownie is one of a flock of orphans under the “care” of Graba, a chicken-legged house-moving witch. His life revolves around running errands for Graba while scrounging enough food to live. When a troupe of goblins come to town, Rownie risks imprisonment by the guard and (worse) the wrath of Graba to see the play. He has soon joined leagues with the goblins in hopes of discovering more about the disappearance of his brother Rowan. Graba is very pissed off. This was a really cute book with a mixture of fairy tale, steam-punk, and Oliver Twist. But the execution wasn’t as great as I’d hoped. I took a long time getting into the book…I felt like I should be enjoying it, but just couldn’t concentrate. After I got used to the world, language, and characters, though, I enjoyed it a lot more. In the end, it was a good book, but it had potential to deliver more.

The Land of Silver Apples, by Nancy Farmer


2012 Book 54: The Land of the Silver Apples, by Nancy Farmer (3/27/2012)

Reason for Reading: This is the second book in a trilogy.

My Review 4/5 stars
Jack, the Bard’s apprentice, sets off on a rescue quest when his sister Lucy is kidnapped by Elves. His companions are an unreliable slave/rightful-heir-to-the-throne and a recently freed girl-slave who worships the ground Jack walks on. They meet many magical creatures, re-discover some old friends, and have lots of exciting adventures along the way. I thought this was an excellent sequel to Sea of Trolls. It expanded the mythology of the land while developing the characters already introduced in the first book. I really appreciated the way Farmer handled the three religions that were represented by her characters in this 790AD Britain-based world. She showed the power and beauty of the Pagans as well as the Christians and subtly made the point that they all got their believers where they needed to go—but she did this without forcing the point or lecturing, which is the sign of excellent story-telling! My only quibble about this book is that most of the major plot threads were completed by page 400, leaving 100 pages for the final (and least pressing) plot thread. This is why the book got 4 instead of 5 stars.