This review is based on a complimentary book I received from NetGalley. It is an honest and voluntary review. The complimentary receipt of it in no way affected my review or rating.The Goblins of Bellwater by Molly Ringle
Genres: Fantasy, Romance
Release Date: October 1, 2017
Publisher: Central Avenue Publishing
Format: ARC, E-book
Purchase at: Amazon ◊ Barnes & Noble ◊ Book Depository ◊ Google Play ◊ Kobo ◊ IndieBound
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.
Curses, goblins, and romance, Oh my! The Goblins of Bellwater may have been inspired by the poem “Goblin Market” by Christina Rossetti but it definitely has its own creative flair. Skye Darwen and her sister Livy Darwen had plenty of whimsy and creativity when they were children. Skye being a young adult still held on to some of her childhood whimsy of fairy tale folk skirting around in the woods near her home in Bellwater, Washington located in the Puget Sound. I really enjoyed the setting for this fantasy.
One day while finishing up her shift at the Green Fox Espresso, Skye decided to take a break and go for a short walk in the woods. While walking in the woods she found a small path where she was sure no path had been there before. Deciding to take the path was one of the worst choices she could ever make as it was the beginning of her downward spiral into destruction. After her unfortunate incident in the woods Skye makes a desperate attempt to escape her fate and chooses an unlikely victim.
Livy Darwen was an environment scientist who was very in tune with nature and all its elements. She appreciated everything that nature had to offer and working for the Forest Services she dedicated her life to keeping the natural world as protected as possible. She had grown up in Bellwater and continued to stay in town with her sister Skye. For reasons unknown to her, Livy’s sister, Skye, had recently taken ill and no one could figure out what was ailing her. Although, there was one person who knew the truth of what could be ailing Skye but he had never before shared his secrets.
Kit Sylvain was an only child and had grown up in Bellwater. He was a few years younger than Livy and had always took notice of her. Kit though was unwilling to enter into any kind of relationships other than the occasional tryst with a tourist. He could not have a stable relationship with anyone because he had secrets. Kit was a goblin liaison. A curse that his long dead ancestor agreed to and was in place for a thousand years, crossing generations. He absolutely hated the goblins but if he did not meet his “contractual obligations” then the goblins would make him pay. Usually in the form of hurting people in his hometown.
From the time Kit had taken on the duties of the goblin liaison after his parents died, he had tried his best to look for signs of goblin mischief with the town residents. When he started dating Livy and heard what her sister Skye was going through, there is a little voice in the back of his mind that made him think that maybe Skye somehow ran into the goblins but he wasn’t sure. Being a goblin liaison made him pretty paranoid and he couldn’t just go assuming that every case of depression was because of the goblins. Until one day when he was confronted with insurmountable proof that Skye was in serious danger and so was his cousin Grady who had recently taken on a cooking job for Livy.
For Kit, Livy, Skye, and Grady it becomes a race against time as they do everything in their power to put an end to the curse that is affecting both Skye and Grady before it becomes too late. Kit’s frustration with his inability to control the goblins meddling ways will push him to make some rash choices. For Livy, she must walk a difficult path where she will be tested in ways that she never dreamed possible and even then, it may be too late to save her sister.
The Goblins of Bellwater was an enjoyable read. There were parts that did not work for me, like the romance – just not that believable. I did not feel that the insta-love going on was based on anything genuine. I did not really connect with anyone of the characters, well except for Flowerwatch, her I loved. I did get a creepy vibe from the goblins in this story. They definitely had that eerily whimsical feeling about them. Overall, this book was very creative, grabbed my attention from the start and did not let go!
*Thank you to NetGalley & Central Avenue Publishing for this eARC of The Goblins of Bellwater*
Q & A with Molly Ringle
Q. How closely did you follow Christina Rossetti’s poem “Goblin Market” as a basis for the story?
I call this a book “inspired by” Rossetti’s poem rather than saying it’s “based upon” it, because I did veer from the poem a significant amount. I first read the poem a few years ago, and it intrigued me deeply. It’s evocative and strange, and, like a fairy tale, has many symbols and events that could be interpreted as having several different meanings. My assignment to myself was to use it as a jumping-off point for a modern paranormal novel, which would then go its own way as the plot required. What I kept from the poem was the basic surface framework: we have a pair of sisters, grown but on the young side, one of whom becomes enchanted by eating goblin fruit in the forest and begins wasting away as a result, alarming the other sister into seeking a way to save her. Since Rossetti’s poem ends with a fast-forward to the women being “wives” and telling their children about their adventures, and since I wanted to write a paranormal romance anyway, I gave my modern sister characters a pair of men to get involved with, in a double love story with eerie angles that I think match the eeriness of the original poem. Mind you, another interpretation of the poem is that the two women aren’t really sisters but lovers, which would be a different route to take and which I think would be lovely to see too!
Q. What is the significance of the four elements (Earth, Air, Fire, Water) in this story?
The four elements are common fixtures in many ancient cultures, and have remained popular into the modern day. One of my favorite TV shows is Avatar: the Last Airbender, which uses the four-element framework brilliantly in its world-building. In reading up on faery lore for this book, I found that scholars often classify types of fae under the four elements, and since that appealed to me, I did the same. As one of the characters in The Goblins of Bellwater muses, there’s something human and emotionally real about looking at nature that way, even if we technically know, thanks to science, that nature contains far more than four elements. And in my novel, the only way to break the goblin spells involves respecting and trusting each of the four elements, even when they’re at their most daunting.
Q. What are the goblins like in this book?
In keeping with both the “Goblin Market” poem and the bulk of faery lore, they are mischievous and villainous. They laugh a lot, but they are decidedly laughing at you, not with you. They steal, and in particular they lust after gold. Like other fae, they enjoy making deals with humans, but humans would be wise not to enter into such deals, as the obligation tends to be heavier than it sounds at the outset. These goblins go further than merely theft, too; they assault and sometimes steal away humans and turn them into fellow goblins, and at other times enchant them into wandering unhappily in the woods until they waste away and die. Although the goblins are sometimes amusing in their level of witty rudeness, they are nearly all amoral and highly dangerous to get involved with. Only a scant few of them, who were once humans, manage to retain any human empathy. However, not all of the fae in my book are this cruel—the goblins are the worst of the lot! Others are willing to be quite helpful to humans as long as they are respected in return.
Q. What kind of magic system does this book involve?
In this book, my main characters are ordinary humans who can’t do any magic, but they become involved in the dealings of the fae realm, which is a bit like another dimension. It can be entered or glimpsed by summoning the fae (which includes goblins), who might or might not answer you. But you’re luckier on the whole if they don’t, because many of them are treacherous, and the realm itself is a wilderness containing many uncanny dangers. From the point of view of the human characters, the magical rules and the cultural norms of the fae are nonsensical, almost inexplicable, but since some of these people have fallen under curses, they have to step in among those dangers and work with the rules as best as they can anyway.
Q. Would you want to live in any of the fictional magical worlds you’ve created?
Strange though it might sound, I’d love to visit the Underworld as I wrote it in Persephone’s Orchard and its sequels. I made it much less scary, for the most part, than it is in traditional Greek mythology; and besides that, I love caves and glowing things, and definitely would be interested in a ride on a ghost horse as long as an immortal was keeping me safe during it. As for the fae realm we see in The Goblins of Bellwater, I’d like to catch glimpses of it, and of the fae themselves, but I wouldn’t want to actually enter the realm. Too perilous!
Q. What are you writing next?
One of the genres I love, and haven’t written enough of myself, is male/male love stories, so I’ve been working on a couple of those. One is contemporary, no magic or supernatural stuff, and it’s undergoing the feedback-and-revision stage right now. Another will involve a fae realm like that of The Goblins of Bellwater, only in a new location in the world, a fictional setting I’m creating. I still have to figure out how this place works and what its magic system is like, in addition to getting to know the characters, but I’m excited about the idea and it has definitely taken root in my brain.
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