ARC Review: The Goblins of Bellwater | A Nuanced Portrayal of Reality and Fantasy

Title: The Goblins of Bellwater

Author: Molly Ringle

Publisher: Central Avenue Publishing

Expected Publication Date: October 1, 2017

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance

Rating: 4.5 Stars

 

I received an ARC copy of The Goblins of Bellwater in exchange for an honest review. Thanks goes to NetGalley as well as Central Avenue Publishing for this advanced copy which is expected to be released October 1, 2017.

Dear fellow Babblers,

I’m giving The Goblins of Bellwater by author, Molly Ringle 4.5 stars. But wanna know a fun fact? About 35% through the book I was contemplating putting it down and walking away! But then I said to myself, “well I haven’t written a negative review in quite a while, so I’ll just read on and pick and choose why I don’t like this book and discuss it. But here I am telling y’all that I am rating it 4.5 stars. I am so glad I followed through a finished because this has been one of the greatest realistic fantasy (contradiction? Absolutely not!) titles I have read yet this year! This book is a fusion of realism and fantasy with a twist of romance and mental illness. This book is raw, real and somehow brings to the surface all the spirits and monsters that could be living in our very own world, but we will never be sure of it. Confused? Read on. 

Goodreads Review:

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.

Babble:

The Goblins of Bellwater is a tale of love, magic, and hopeless, or seemingly hopeless, betrayal and disaster. Deep within the forests of Bellwater, Washington, a wintry and seemingly melancholic town on the outskirts of the city, lives another world; society; species. It’s magical and dangerous, harming and even killing whomever it traps in it’s enticing path, and no one would know about it. No one, but one unfortunate young mechanic.

24-year-old Kit Sylvain is the victim of a long-withstanding family curse. He is the liaison between the morbid and enchanting goblin world and the real-to-the-eye “real” world. An unfortunate mistake of his great grandmother has been passed on through family generations and now consumes the lifestyle and fate Ki must endure. Just like his ancestors he has the ability to steal gold without ever being caught and must pay up a monthly sum to the goblins at the rise of the full moon. If not, the untrustworthy goblins reserve the right to harm or cause mischief to Bellwater and any unlucky human who chooses to wander into the forest come nightfall. Just is the case when, one night, Kit, very unwise of him, falls short in his monthly pay-up to the goblins. These creatures, many of whom were humans once themselves once upon a full moon are not to be trifled with. Their sneers and hearty giggles hardly mean well natured humor. Redring, the ring leader of the pack with her own dim history is evil and her her vileness spreads to the other goblins like a cancer. What she commands goes and what she promises, or what deals she makes never go without a disastrous trap. If any one goblin should turn against or disagree with Redring, well, rest in peace for them.

And just like his ancestors, Kit is doomed to die young. It’s inscribed in his curse and written in his future. As a result, Kit steers clear of long term romantic relationships and keeps his fatal secret to himself. Well, that is until the Darwen sisters…

Artist, Skye Darwen is a 23-year-old barista who is keeping her eyes peeled for a career as a graphic designer. Her imagination is vivid and is effortlessly illustrated in her sketches or fluid stencil and color. One evening after work she wanders into the forest with the teenie-tines on her mind. That is what she and her 26-year-old environmental scientist sister, Livy call the imaginary creatures they feel lurk in the forest. This is all a sort of game for the sisters as they have felt the goblins’ presence since childhood but have never managed to secure any discernible evidence. Not until this evening that Skye decides to follow the tasty path put in front of her by the goblins. Skye is lured into their world and her own life, as well as Kit, his 21-year old chef cousin, Grady, and Livy’s change forever, and are forever entwined.

A dark and powerful curse is placed on Skye as the goblin spirits make their way into her consciousness and manage to gain increasing power over her life as a human. Day by day, Skye loses touch with the human world and feels the pull of the goblin world as she struggles to fight against the temptation growing inside of her to make the depths of the forest her knew home. Thus no longer being a human and becoming a goblin forever. Days go by and Skye sinks away from the human world, loses all joy, and eventually all willingness to interact altogether. Livy is worried and thinks it to be depression. She fears for Skye, but with a magic so dark as goblin magic, little can be done, until Kit is willing to share his secret and even then, can the curse really be lifted in time, before Skye becomes full goblin?

Grady’s presence in the narrative is actually rather catastrophic. One day he discovers Skye in the forest and the first words that come out of her mouth are “help me.” This becomes the eventual erotic relationship between the two victims – Skye is the victim of the goblins and Grady is the victim of Skye. She chooses him as her mate and thus spreads her curse onto him. Their relationship is their fate and the permiscuousness that occurs between them throught the story is rather perplexing because the reader is constantly caused to wonder whether the attraction of the couple is due to the goblin curse or simply a passionate romance.

Meanwhile, Kit and Livy are having their own fun. Each has a teenie-tiny crush on the other, and neither admits it up until they must come together – mind, body, and soul – to confront the fae world.

Told in the third person, this book often alternates between the perspectives – sometimes Kit, other times Livy, a few times Grady, and lots of times Skye. I really liked this choice of the author because it allowed me, as a reader, to zero-in on the minds of each character and attempt to dissemble their tangled lives with hopes of making sense of the curse which brought the four protagonists together.

What caused me to contemplate not finishing this book at first was all the focus on the unraveling romances between Livy and Kit and later Skye and Grady. They initially seemed irrelevant to the story which I was expecting to be an enchanting fantasy. It wasn’t until I noticed the changes in Grady’s character and the events of him and Skye having sex in the forest under the watchful eye of the goblins that I finally understood.

There is realism fused with fantasy here. Many scenes take place in Bellwater and simply seem like an overly explicit erotica. And then there are all the thrilling events that happen as Livy tries to save her sister and break the goblin curse. I felt as though I was being pulled back and forth between reality and the author’s imagination. Her portrayal of the fae world was surreal and flawlessly illustrated. I really did, in the most figurative sense of the world, become a spirit floating between reality and fiction – sometimes I was laughing alongside the goblins, other times I was crawling under the earth with Livy, and often anticipating my transformation into a goblin within the mind of Skye.

This is such a unique read, and am so happy to have continued it despite my initial skepticism. The cover is as gorgeous as Ringle’s evocative writing. Her word choice and the dialogue between the characters is fluid and seems real. Their is little awkwardness or feelings of “eek, nobody would ever even say that.” I enjoyed this read tremendously and look forward to more from this author in the future.

If any of you have not yet noticed, in writing this review I was tremendously influenced by the relationship of realism and fantasy that I noticed. I was given the opportunity to ask the author about her inspiration and how she went about her descriptions of both worlds so well. A guest post from Molly Ringle in response to my wonder is coming soon so I hope everyone will enjoy this book and hold it as dear to their hearts as readers as I did.

Yours Truly, 

(Book image credits go to Goodreads)

 

 

15 thoughts on “ARC Review: The Goblins of Bellwater | A Nuanced Portrayal of Reality and Fantasy

      1. Yes! It’s a trilogy. The first one is called The Hollow Kingdom by Clare B. Dunkle. A friend told me about them last year and I absolutely loved them! I want to read them again soon.

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