The Goblins of Bellwater by Molly Ringle
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I received a copy of this book from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.
The Goblins of Bellwater was inspired by Christina Rossetti's powerful poem, "Goblin Market." Long a favorite of many a fantasy writer, one of the things that always struck me about this poem was that one sister saved the other. In an era in which men were usually called upon to save women, Christina Rosetti's poem was unusual for sisters saving themselves, so to speak. Yet I came to feel in this book as if the waters were muddied in that the sisters had to have relationships and those relationships had to be neatly tied in a bow by the end of the book. Rather than focusing on the magic of the goblins, and the fae in general, making the book a YA fantasy novel as one might have expected from the title, this a YA Romance novel with a splash of magic. Some of the descriptive aspects of the local fae magic were nicely done but were lost in the midst of the sisters working out relationship issues with their boyfriends. There were few other characters on offer other than the sisters and the eligible young men. The romances themselves were awkwardly developed, especially Kit and Olivia's, and yet were a fait accompli from the first few chapters. Some of the sexual aspects were oddly pragmatic and lacking in emotional range.
Given the awkwardness of the romances developed, in this book I actually wanted to learn more about the goblins and the local fae, see more of Livy the scientist dealing with the magical overlay in her forest. I wanted to understand Skye more as a person. I wanted to feel more love, rather than duty, from Livy toward Skye. In short, I wanted to feel the power of the love that Rossetti gave us. I just didn't feel it.
I also feel that the book might have benefitted from pencil or charcoal illustrations of the goblins, since illustrating is one of Skye's only modes of communication. It would have allowed us to see and engage more with what Livy, Grady and Kit saw from her perspective.
Here's Rossetti's poem, just in case you've never read it:
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