by William Alexander
223 pages telling the book of a play – a reenactment of life where you can be changed, have your will taken away and live with clockwork parts that seem unimaginable – but become more real as you consider their gruesome possibility
When I heard Goblin Secrets had won the National Book Award I thought I’d give it a try. It is an unusual book to be sure. It made me question and wonder. I am glad I do not live in Zombay, but I would like to cross over the Fiddleway Bridge and cast a stone to say “hello”. I would not want to be one of Graba’s children, but I do think that would be better than fending for myself on either the North or the South side of the city. I would love to see the masks and I would love to see the plays – I think. That the masks could change me makes me a little nervous. And the way life and magic works in Zombay is unsettling to me.
Rownie is an orphan living with a host of “stray children” gathered up by Graba the witch. She orders them about to do her bidding and maintain her hold on her side of the city. Rownie’s brother Rowan is missing. He seems to have vanished from the city – but Rownie believes there must be more to it than that. Intrigued by the sign a troupe of Goblin players post on the bridge, Rownie decides to attend their presentation and even dares to participate though the Lord Mayor has outlawed acting. It seems that acting and actors are unpredictable. They are able to create a magic all their own – a magic that can change the world. Those in power don’t want that world to change. They like their power, but it seems to me there is little joy in Zombay on the best of days and change might not be such a bad thing. Rownie isn’t interested in power or change but he would like to find his brother and know the warm security of knowing your family again. That simple desire is caught up between two bickering sides and an angry river threatening to flood. Read Goblin Secrets – let us know what you think. Do you end with more questions than your began with?