In the town of Zombay, there is a witch named Graba who has clockwork chicken legs and moves her house around—much like the fairy tale figure of Baba Yaga. Graba takes in stray children, and Rownie is the youngest boy in her household. Rownie’s only real relative is his older brother Rowan, who is an actor. But acting is outlawed in Zombay, and Rowan has disappeared.
Desperate to find him, Rownie joins up with a troupe of goblins who skirt the law to put on plays. But their plays are not only for entertainment, and the masks they use are for more than make-believe. The goblins also want to find Rowan—because Rowan might be the only person who can save the town from being flooded by a mighty river.
While aimed at a bit younger audience than I usually like this Goblin Secrets was full of interesting characters and makes for a entertaining book.
Rownie’s a fun and brave protagonist perfect for the target audience. Hi’s transformation over the book acts as a great coming of age/strength story that kids will love. Of course besides being a great actor Rownie is determined, strong, and quick witted. All in all a fantastic underdog.
Of course while I liked Rownie, Graba and the Mayor make fantastic antagonists (Graba very much reminded me of a combination of Ursula from The Little Mermaid and a number of the characters from Spirited Away). They are gruesome combination of parts, take advantage of the weak, and are just despicable.
Speaking of combination of parts, I thought it was an interesting creation to make people part machine, but I would have liked an explanation as to why it was that way, or why goblins were not that way. Basically I wanted more back story.
All in all I thought it was a fun book for its age group. It has a likable protagonist, despicable villains, and an interesting world full of goblins and half machine half human creatures. In a word FUN.