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In the Coils of the Snake (The Hollow Kingdom Trilogy #3)
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In the Coils of the Snake (The Hollow Kingdom Trilogy #3)

4.7 18
by Clare B. Dunkle

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Clare Dunkle's acclaimed fantasy trilogy— now available in paperback

For thousands of years, young women have been vanishing from Hallow Hill, never to be seen again. Now Kate and Emily have moved there with no idea of the land's dreadful heritage—until Marak decides to tell them himself. Marak is a powerful magician who claims to be the goblin


Clare Dunkle's acclaimed fantasy trilogy— now available in paperback

For thousands of years, young women have been vanishing from Hallow Hill, never to be seen again. Now Kate and Emily have moved there with no idea of the land's dreadful heritage—until Marak decides to tell them himself. Marak is a powerful magician who claims to be the goblin king, and he has very specific plans for the two new girls who have trespassed into his kingdom . . .

So begins the award-winning Hollow Kingdom Trilogy. Now in paperback, these editions welcome a whole new audience to the magical realm that Newbery Award winner Lloyd Alexander calls "as persuasive as it is remarkable."

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“Clare Dunkle brings a fresh new voice and a fresh new vision to the high art of fantasy. She creates a world filled with intense excitement, terror, beauty, and love--a world as persuasive as it is remarkable.” —Lloyd Alexander

“* A luminously polished fantasy that starts off strong and just gets better. A masterly debut.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review

“The impact of Dunkle's evocative storytelling lingers long after the final page.” —Booklist

Publishers Weekly
PW called Clare B. Dunkle's The Hollow Kingdom a "luminously polished fantasy that starts off strong and just gets better [with] elements of Victorian novels and fairy tales." As the trilogy concludes with In the Coils of the Snake, readers find Miranda at the center of an age-old battle at the end of Marak's reign, when she is taken prisoner by an elf lord. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Once Marak, the Goblin King, dies, seventeen-year-old Miranda expects to assume the role of Queen when she marries Marak's son, a role she has been trained to fulfill from birth. With the arrival of a mysterious Elf King, however, Miranda's seeming destiny is thwarted. In an effort to keep the peace between the goblins and the elves, the elves hand over young Arianna, an elf-bride intended to replace Miranda and secure the safety of the elves. When Miranda hears of this, she flees the goblin caves and plans to take her life by drowning in a nearby pond. She is stopped, however, by the Elf King himself who places a captivity spell upon her and thus forces her to remain in the forest with him and his small band of people. In time, Miranda learns to love the dark forest and the elf king and refuses to return to the goblin community even when the Goblin King attempts to rescue her. In the end, Miranda learns that her true destiny has brought her to the elves and that she will ultimately be responsible for keeping those she loves—elf and goblin—alive. Although the novel is Book Three in "The Hollow Kingdom" trilogy, it does not require readers to have read the first two. A prologue is included that sets the stage for the events that follow. Although Miranda's character is overly-naive and juvenile at times (especially in matters of the heart), her disparate emotions are captured well and reflect the turmoil of a young woman being pulled in two different directions. The magical descriptions are just that; readers are drawn into two unique worlds through vivid details that paint a clear picture without bogging down the action that drives the story. 2005, Henry Holt, Ages 12 to 16.
—Wendy Glenn, Ph.D.
School Library Journal
Gr 6-10-In the final volume in the trilogy, the action moves to the next generation. Marak, the goblin king, is dying, and his son, Marak Catspaw, is taking over the throne. Miranda, the human girl whom Marak has raised to be Catspaw's wife, has come to the underground goblin lands eager to start her role as King's Wife. When a new elf leader arrives and offers Catspaw an elven wife, Miranda's destiny disappears. She escapes the goblin kingdom and is captured by the elf leader, Nir. Meanwhile, elven Arianna, Catspaw's new Wife, is deeply unhappy with her underground life. In the end, both girls play a role in choosing a new life for both elves and goblins. Dunkle has created a tightly drawn fantasy with a pair of strong, independent female protagonists striving to find their places in new societies. The author's themes of the need for tolerance and her exploration of the often-superficial differences between races are continued from earlier volumes and add meaning to the text. Because of this book's focus on the elf and goblin worlds, less attention is given to the alternate Victorian England of the humans than in earlier volumes. Dunkle's language and plotting help build the mood and move her suspenseful story through its twists to its satisfying finish.-Beth L. Meister, Pleasant View Elementary School, Franklin, WI Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
The Hollow Kingdom trilogy ends as it began: with a kidnapped bride falling for her captor. Human Miranda has been raised as the promised bride to the goblin heir, Catspaw. After the death of Marak, the goblin king and the target of all Miranda's affection, she's ambivalent about her impending marriage. Miranda looks forward to wealth and Catspaw's affection, but misses Marak and is lonely in the goblin kingdom. On the eve of their wedding, Catspaw is forced by circumstance to wed a frightened elf maiden instead of Miranda. After storming off in a sulk, Miranda is kidnapped by the irresistibly handsome lord of the elves. Inevitably, she comes to love her captor, and the elves and goblins, enemies since time immemorial, discover common ground. After all, both races kidnap terrified young women into forced marriage, so how different can they really be? A trilogy, which opened with some promise, sadly resolves without ever growing beyond a disappointing collection of feeble, uninteresting heroines. Not a substantial contribution to the strong genre of romantic fantasy. (Fantasy. 12-15)

Product Details

Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Publication date:
Hollow Kingdom Trilogy Series , #3
Edition description:
First Edition
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.54(d)
Age Range:
11 - 14 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chapter Two

In the short time that Miranda had been in the kingdom, Marak had kept his ward very much to himself, determined that Catspaw would hold her the thrill of the unknown. Miranda had lived quietly in an apartment on the elves' floor, content with her ongoing studies and Marak's daily visits. If she had seen almost nothing of Catspaw, she had seen very little else of goblin life, either.

Now the girl found herself propelled to the very center of goblin society. The new King kept her by his side at every social occasion, and the fascinated monsters thronged around her. Miranda played her part to perfection, exhibiting the fine manners and graciousness that Marak had drilled into her. She hid her true feelings from everyone—including, at first, from herself.

Because the fact of the matter was that many goblins were hideous. They didn't just look funny, as Marak had always said. There were deformities among them that sent a chill down Miranda's spine, a shock such as she might have felt at the sight of a corpse. She could barely swallow food in their company.

There was the goblin, for instance, with the huge flat head, burly arms, and tiny body. His doll's legs dangled uselessly a foot above the ground as he swung himself from place to place on his hands. There was the genial little goblin with the common abnormality, eyes of two different colors. One of his eyes was dark brown, twinkling with good humor. The other eye was huge and blood-red. And there was an entire family of goblins who were the color of dark gray earth, with the impression of things too long underground. Their hairless heads were round and bulbous, like soft rubber balls. Their pale eyes bulged alarmingly, as if they were being strangled.

Seen in the light of an honest day, these forms would have been frightful enough, but far worse was their appearance in the thick shadows of the kingdom. At any moment, Miranda might turn a corner in the dim hallways and find herself face to face with a horror she had never even imagined. And when she met it, she had to remember to smile.

It didn't occur to the girl that Marak's death had left her overwrought and that her repugnance was compounded by her grief. All Miranda knew was that she was acting the one part she had never known she would have to act. She had looked forward all her life to coming to Marak's kingdom and being a King's Wife. She had never once considered that it might be difficult.


Catspaw leaned toward her as she glanced up and held her gaze with his own. "My spells keep the lamps lit, Miranda," he said quietly. "I won't ever leave you in the dark."

Miranda was touched by his consideration. She hadn't imagined the goblin King like this. She saw her royal suitor as someone to charm and impress, but she hadn't realized that she would have to trust him. Maybe he wouldn't always seem like such a stranger, she thought with relief. She remembered Marak's last talk with her: Catspaw will be all that to you.

"That night when I was frightened, Marak told me about my future," she recalled. "It was the first time that he said I would be a King's Wife."

"Then I remember that night as well," said Marak Catspaw. "It's one of the only times I saw Father worried. I was up late studying political economy or some such when he came into my room. 'You've got to marry that girl,' he said, shaking his head. 'I just promised her that you would.'"

Miranda felt startled. "I thought he knew my future, he sounded so sure of it," she protested. "I thought he could see it in my face."

Catspaw smiled at her. "He was just being a King," he said. "Kings are never supposed to seem uncertain. I don't see anything about your future in your face. I only see the character from the Door Spell."

"You can see that?" wondered Miranda, rubbing her forehead. "I didn't know it left a mark."

"It's gold, and it shines a little," said the goblin, tracing over the script character with his fingertip. "I think it looks attractive."

Miranda pondered that, unsure how she felt about displaying a symbol that she herself couldn't see. She wondered how many other goblins could read it, and whether it really was attractive. Catspaw continued to study her, hesitating over something. If Kings weren't supposed to seem uncertain, he was breaking his own rule.

Then he leaned down and kissed her.

It was a nice kiss, Miranda decided. It made her feel appreciated, and she felt affectionate in return. For once, the smile that she gave her fiancé wasn't a charming mask but an honest feeling instead.

The goblin seemed to have enjoyed the kiss, too. He looked excited and resolute. "Only two more months until our wedding," he remarked. "Then I'll erase this—" He touched the Door symbol— "and write the King's Wife character there."

"Will I notice any difference?" she asked.

"Yes and no," admitted Marak Catspaw. "The doors still won't let you go outside, but they'll treat you with more respect." A little uncertain, Miranda thought about being his wife, living in luxury locked in by those iron doors. There certainly wasn't much left to worry about, was there? What a tidy future.

It was Sable who pieced together the clues and saw through Miranda's pretense. The elf woman listened to her son Tattoo's descriptions of the erratic behavior of the King's Bride and felt wholeheartedly sorry for the girl. It was clear to her that Miranda was struggling to find her place in the kingdom, and this was something Sable could understand. She herself had not had an easy time finding her place in life.

The black-haired woman combined in one person the sensitivity of an elf and the frankness of a goblin. Polite and distrustful, Miranda never mentioned her problems, so Sable did it for her. "Goblins take getting used to," she told Miranda matter-of-factly, and the girl felt as if a weight had dropped from her shoulders. Miranda was too reserved to come by for a visit, so the elf kept inviting her over until the visits became routine.

"You're losing weight," Sable remarked one morning as she opened her door for the girl. "I have bread and cheese for you on the table. Tattoo," she added crisply, leaning out in the hallway to speak to the young man posted at Miranda's door, "I've mended your Guard cloak—again. Come by for it once you're off duty, and be more careful next time."

Miranda walked into Sable's forest room and looked around with pleasure. The illusion of a stretch of shadowy woodland worked particularly well for her because she couldn't distinguish much in the dim light. She sat down on a cushion at the strange low table that was only a few inches from the ground.

"One week left until your wedding," noted the elf woman. "It's a shame that it won't be held at the full moon. Weddings and full moons belong together."

Miranda gave a grimace and rubbed her palms where the knives would cut them. "I'll be glad when it's over. Catspaw says he will be, too."

"He's Marak now," Sable observed. "You should call him that." Miranda just frowned by way of an answer. She hadn't yet promoted him into that exalted position, as the elf woman knew perfectly well.

A small silence fell over the room as Miranda pulled food from the basket and Sable began working on one of her math problems. She sketched it out rapidly in three dimensions a few inches above the table, silvery lines and circles appearing as she drew. Then she set it all into motion. Miranda watched the silver figure spin in the air, wobbling slightly as it turned.

"Sable, did you always like it here?" she asked.

"I was frantic when I first came," answered the woman absently, jotting down numbers. She paused and gazed off into space. "I remember how hard it was to get used to the bright light. My eyes would start stinging after a few hours."

"Bright!" murmured Miranda. She could barely distinguish colors in the gloom. "Did you ever try to escape?"

"No," answered Sable. "I couldn't go back. My people would have hunted me down. You don't know what elf men are like, Miranda: horrible brutes. I don't think they're born with a heart in their bodies."

Miranda pondered this interesting disclosure. "Isn't Seylin an elf man?" she asked. "He's not a brute. Marak never said that elf men were horrible, just that they were pretty and silly."

"Of course Seylin isn't an elf," replied the woman. "He's a goblin; he just looks like an elf. And Marak never had to live with them like I did."

All in all, it was a strange coincidence that Miranda learned what elf men were like that day. That very night, an elf man returned to his ancestral home, and Miranda's tidy future began to crumble.

Copyright © 2005 Clare B. Dunkle

This text is from an uncorrected proof.

Meet the Author

Clare B. Dunkle is also the author of By These Ten Bones. A native of north Texas, she and her family currently live in Germany.

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In the Coils of the Snake (The Hollow Kingdom Trilogy #3) 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 18 reviews.
Angieville More than 1 year ago
I do like these covers. The rich, sometimes earthy tones aptly reflect the individual themes of the books, in my opinion. Plus the style of artwork keeps the characters sort of dreamy and vague and I am therefore free to go on picturing them however I please and that is always a good thing. IN THE COILS OF THE SNAKE continues the story of the goblin court and its longtime enemies the "we're one step ahead of extinction" elves. This third and final volume in the Hollow Kingdom trilogy takes place thirty years after CLOSE KIN and begins with the unthinkable.

Marak is dead. *sob*

And as if that isn't enough, we find out that all these years he has been secretly grooming a young human girl to be his son Catspaw's bride when he passes the crown to him. The girl, Miranda, is now living in the hollow hill with them and is utterly bereft now that her one friend (and father-figure) is gone and she is expected to take up the mantle of queen to a young and inexperienced king. Her fragmented life becomes further complicated when, on the eve of their wedding, Catspaw puts her aside in favor of a young elf of impeccable pedigree. The move is without malice, as Catspaw faces a stalemate with the elf lord Nir. Nir offers the young Arianna as part of a peace treaty between his people and the goblins. When Miranda finds out her entire purpose in life no longer exists, she refuses Catspaw's offer of sanctuary and runs away. Right into the clutches of the elf lord, who finds her a very useful sort of hostage indeed.

This book held everything I hoped for the conclusion of the trilogy. The story splits its time between Miranda and the elves and Catspaw's difficulties wrangling his elf bride and his attempts to subvert Nir's plans. I wasn't as attached to Catspaw as I was his father (Marak was The Top), so I was not as invested in his story. But Miranda was a lovely, sympathetic character and it was a pleasure to watch her find a place where she felt at home at last. I was also glad to finally find a truly noble elf in Nir, after the painfully vicious and unhappy band in CLOSE KIN. And I had to smile at how frivolous the goblins thought the elves and with what disgust and horror the elves, in turn, viewed the goblins. In the Coils of the Snake also, rather notably, has a proper ending, perfect for the book itself and for the trilogy as a whole.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This novel brought The Hollow Kingdom Trilogy to a satisfying conclusion.
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Solstice-Ballad1 More than 1 year ago
The whole series has the vibrant culture of the Goblins and Elves entwined through it, always struggling against one another, with the people as their looking glass.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
this is by far the best book of the series because it's really sweet how Miranda gets together with Nir and everything, and even though it's a pretty soft fantasy (and i'm more of a hardcore fantasy fan) it's cute and extremely well-written and i like to read it again and again!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Being the final book in a fantastic trilogy, a reader always prays the last books exceeds their hopes and goes above and beyond. Well, here ya go! A great ending to a great series. Has all the ingredients to a perfect story!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is an amazing book filled with plots, lies, trust, and truth. It is about a girl, Miranda, whose entire life had been dedicated to learning how to be a King's Wife. Her hand is promised to the Goblin King Makar Catspaw, but a once-thought to be dead clan of elves arrive, presenting an elf-bride whom the Catspaw must accept to help his people. Devestated, Miranda runs away and meets the mysterious elf-lord Nir who takes care of her. But Catspaw thinks that the elf-lord is out for revenge and launches an attack. Read this book to find out how it ends.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have waited many months in eager anticipation for the final installment of the Hollow Kingdom Trilogy. Dunkle delivers a great plot line that makes you want more and more. The book was a great page turner. The fact that each book deals with a different group of people or plot but yet blends and cooperates with each other book is a literary achievment the author should be proud of. My one regret about the series is that it ends with this novel, and yet the ending fits.
Guest More than 1 year ago
While *The Hollow Kingdom* was a thrilling book in which Marak the Goblin King is a magical being who is hard to outwit by Kate,the poor human-elf cross. Clare Dunkle's *In the Coils of the Snake*, the third and last book in the Hollow Kingdom Trilogy,deals more with the sensitivity of the elves with Nir, and the wit of a human,Miranda, against the magical powers of the goblins. *Coils* is a very gripping story in which the culture shock upon entering another world is dealt with to a different degree than in *Hollow Kingdom*. It is a very well written book with very true feelings on the part of those who were misplaced from their culture. Anyone who knows what it is like to leave what you have always known and live in a world so entirely different from your own,language and all,will thoroughly enjoy this fantasy story which places real life situations and feelings in such a wonderful world. Truly it is a masterpeice to be proud of!