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Close Kin (The Hollow Kingdom Trilogy #2)
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Close Kin (The Hollow Kingdom Trilogy #2)

4.2 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
Favorite story lines and characters continue this fall. Clare B. Dunkle spins a sequel to her The Hollow Kingdom, which PW called, in a starred review, "a luminously polished fantasy that starts off strong and just gets better." With Close Kin, Dunkle broadens the story of the sisters, with Kate happily married to the Goblin King, Marak, and Emily joyfully tending to the many goblin children. But when Emily's best friend, Seylin, proposes and she turns him down, he decides to leave the kingdom to search for his elf ancestors. Emily, realizing how much she cares for him, sets out to find him, as Dunkle thrusts readers deeper into the fascinating psyche of the goblins, dwarfs, elves and humans that populate her world. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
Gr 6-9-Years have passed since the events of The Hollow Kingdom (Holt, 2003), and Kate is happily married to the Goblin King, Marak. As a human who has always thought of goblins as exciting and exotic creatures, her younger sister, Emily, enjoys spending her days with the many goblin children in her care. She has no thought of marriage until she unintentionally rejects the awkward proposal of her best friend, Seylin. Devastated, he decides to leave the kingdom to search for his elf ancestors. Once Emily realizes that she is the cause of his departure, and how much she cares for him, she sets out to find him, accompanied by the curmudgeonly goblin, Ruby. As in the previous book, the different characters discover that appearances do not necessarily reflect inner attributes, but this story delves deeper into examining the xenophobic attitudes held by the goblins, dwarfs, elves, and humans. The narrative draws readers into a multifaceted world of strong, compelling individuals. The final chapters come across more as a group of appendixes with a lot of explanatory information than as a true conclusion. Still, the background detail creates a compelling saga for fantasy fans. For maximum satisfaction, the books need to be read in order. The final book of the trilogy, In the Coils of the Snake, is due to be published in 2005.-Farida S. Dowler, formerly at Bellevue Regional Library, WA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Racial integration through wife-napping makes for awkward fantasy, despite a compellingly intricate structure. Baby sister Emily of The Hollow Kingdom (2003), a human in the goblin world, has grown into a lovable young woman. Emily's adored by her goblin friend, elf-like throwback Seylin, but doesn't understand his awkward words of love. Spurned, Seylin leaves the goblin kingdom to avoid Emily and search for the long-lost elves. Alas, the remaining elves are ignorant, near-extinct, poverty-stricken misogynists, and only goblin magic can save them. While Seylin quests for elves, and Emily leaves goblin lands hunting for Seylin, the all-wise goblin king arranges the capture of the remaining elf women. Their perfectly chosen goblin husbands are far superior to the crude elves; kidnapping and involuntary marriage proves the elves' salvation. Disturbing gender roles, excessive moralizing, and a rushed and incongruous conclusion keep this sequel from achieving its rather strong potential. (Fiction. 11-14)

Product Details

Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Publication date:
Hollow Kingdom Trilogy Series , #2
Edition description:
First Edition
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.51(d)
810L (what's this?)
Age Range:
11 - 14 Years

Read an Excerpt


Seylin hurried through the maze of hallways in the great underground goblin palace and knocked on Emily's door. They had been close friends since childhood, but Seylin wasn't a child anymore. He was one of the King's Guard now, and his black uniform matched his black hair and eyes. The girl he had played with had grown into a young woman. By human standards, Emily looked quite average, and the elvish Seylin looked quite remarkable, but Seylin was the one who found himself daydreaming about Emily's brown eyes and warm smile. He couldn't even tell if she cared.

There was a scramble, and Emily's door popped open to reveal his friend Brindle's little daughter, her snake eyes gleaming up at him. In her arms she clutched Talah, Emily's monkey, rolled up in a blanket like a doll.

"Where's Em?" he asked, and the little girl pointed wordlessly behind her. He found Emily seated on the terrace, teaching a very small goblin boy to fasten a buckle. Emily was always surrounded by children. They appealed to her high spirits and love of excitement. Goblin babies were more fun than human babies, she said, because human babies never bit large chunks out of the furniture or tried to take off on awkward wings and crashed into the wall.

The handsome Seylin was an embarrassing anomaly in an ugly goblin world. His parents had almost died of shame over their son's striking features. Having grown up with teasing, inaudible whispers, and sympathetic glances, the sensitive young man had always enjoyed the company of Emily's many visiting children because he never felt that they were mocking him or gossiping over his looks. But lately, he had found all the bustle and confusion a little hard to take.

"Can't I ever see you alone?" he asked crossly, sitting down beside her.

"Goodness, I am alone," responded the young woman. "Just Brindle's two before class this morning. This afternoon I'm expecting a dozen. We're going to the kitchens to bake cakes."

Seylin sighed. She was right. This was as alone as she ever was.

"Em, I've been thinking," he began. "We're older now, and I wanted to talk to you. After all, we're not little pages anymore." He paused. "We need to talk."

"I've been wanting to talk to you, too," declared Emily with some force. "Ever since you came back from that trading journey last spring, all you do is stand around and goggle at me. You hardly say five words, and if I look like I'm having any fun, you glower at me just like an old governess."

Seylin was glowering now. He tried to make himself stop. "That's not what I want to talk about," he protested. "What I wanted to say is that I won't always be a guard-"

"Nothing wrong with the Guard," remarked Emily breezily. "Thaydar told me last night he thinks the Guard's never looked better. Sweetie, we'd better run you to the bathroom," she added, standing up with the tiny goblin.

"So Thaydar was here again!" snapped Seylin.

"Not now," called Emily, hurrying off and leaving him free to glower unobserved. Thaydar, the cat-eyed commander of the Guard, was his most serious rival for Emily's affection. Thaydar made no secret of the fact that he wanted the prestige of a non-goblin bride, and he was one of the most important men in the kingdom. To make matters worse, he was Seylin's commanding officer. Seylin had spent many evenings on patrol duty knowing that Thaydar was keeping Emily company back home.

After a few minutes of gloomy contemplation, Seylin wandered back into the apartment to find Emily breaking up a fight between the two children. Each of them had one of Talah's arms and refused to let go.

"No monkey for either of you," said Emily, prying them loose. Talah bounced into Seylin's arms, and he sat down on the couch with her.

"Em, I don't want to be a guard all my life," he continued earnestly. "There's nothing to guard. It's so boring. I don't want to be a lore-master, either, teaching the Unlock Spell over and over to crowds of pages, and I don't want to be a scholar. They just study things. I want to live stories, not read them."

Emily was pouring drinks and barely paying attention. She had heard all of this before. The little boy promptly dumped his cup down his front. She carried him over to the couch and sat down, scrubbing him off with a towel.

rd"Did I tell you that Jacoby was here last night," she said, "and he choked on a piece of caramel? I had to whack him on the back for a long time before it went down. I've learned something, Seylin. Goblins with beaks shouldn't eat chewy candy. They don't have any way to chew it."

"Why do I ever try to talk to you?" cried Seylin. "You never listen to a word I say!"

"I'm listening," she protested. "You don't want to be anything."

"Right," he confirmed, trying to ignore the fact that the little girl was staring at him fixedly with her hypnotic snake eyes. "Right, I won't always be a guard, I promise. I'll be something more. I know I don't have much to offer you right now," he continued as the little girl dragged Talah from his arms. "But I think I will later."

"Thanks, I don't need anything," answered Emily absently. "Did you see Jacoby's new sister? Isn't she adorable with those little pink bird feet?" Seylin gritted his teeth, glaring at his heedless beloved. Here he was, sitting right next to her, and she might as well be a thousand miles away.

"Kitty, kitty," giggled Brindle's daughter, patting his knee.

"Very good! Kitty," said Emily encouragingly. "Seylin, change into a cat for her."

"Em, I am trying to have an important conversation!" shouted Seylin. "I will not change into a cat!"

Brindle's daughter drew back and buried her face in Emily's lap.

"And I suppose it's more important than making a little child happy," said Emily angrily, stroking the girl's hair as she cried.

"Yes! Yes, as a matter of fact, it is," declared Seylin, breathing hard.

"Well, go have it somewhere else then," ordered the righteous young woman. "I don't want to hear it."

"No, you don't, do you?" exclaimed Seylin, beside himself. "But you want to hear Thaydar, don't you? You drink in every word he says!"

This wasn't true. Thaydar spent as much time holding babies and repeating himself as Seylin did. He was just more philosophical about it.

"Thaydar isn't rude," Emily replied tartly.


"Rude? I'm rude? You never even listen to me, but that's not rude."

"I heard every word!" cried Emily. "You want to talk, you won't be a guard, you don't want to be anything, and I don't care. All you ever do is complain. Thaydar never does."

"Well, why don't you just marry Thaydar, since you're so fond of him?" he demanded.

"I certainly wouldn't marry you," declared the wrathful Emily. "Not if you were the last goblin on earth."

Seylin stared at her, his anger evaporating.

"Do you mean that?" he asked incredulously.

Emily was still furious. "Of course I do," she snapped, rising and catching the little boy as he made a dash for the terrace. Seylin stood up and stared after her for a minute, but she didn't turn around to look at him.

"Fine," he said bitterly. "Marry Thaydar, then." And he stormed out of the apartment.


Seylin found the goblin King in his workroom, giving his wife her magic lesson. The young man stopped in the doorway to watch, bending down to give Kate's drowsy dog a pat and exchanging a quiet greeting with the guard on duty in the hall.

The goblin King's Wife had required years of convincing before she had agreed to learn magic. She always felt uneasy about what her father would have said about it. Kate had been raised a perfect English gentlewoman. She had been shocked to learn that her great-great grandmother was an elf. Even though she was technically an elf-human cross, she was so strongly elvish that the goblins called her an elf, too.

Kate no longer noticed that her husband looked alarming. Nevertheless, the first sight of Marak had been enough to startle her into hysterics. The goblin King's body was powerful and bowlegged, with long, wiry arms and big, knotted hands. His magic hand had six fingers. His face was broad and bony, with sunken temples and deep eye sockets, and the eyes that gleamed brightly from under his bushy eyebrows were two different colors, one green and one black. Marak's skin was gray, and his lips and fingernails were a rather gruesome shade of tan. His hair was as coarse and straight as a horse's tail.

Kate still noticed her husband's hair. It fell in an unruly shock to his shoulders and into his eyes, and he had the habit of running his hands through it as he thought. Most of it was light beige, but a black patch grew back in a cowlick above his green eye, sending strands of black hair falling over the pale hair in what looked like long stripes. Kate disapproved of anything so untidy and kept their young son's hair short as a precaution against his developing his father's taste in hairstyles.

For this lesson, Kate was learning how to heat an elvish cooking stone. The nocturnal elves saw perfectly well in the dark but were blind in the dazzling day. Their eyes were even more sensitive than those of the goblins, so they cooked on special stones that gave off no light. The dwarves had made such a stone for Marak, flat and about a foot square. It lay now on the floor at Kate's feet, and a small metal pan full of water sat on it, waiting to be heated.

"You remember what I taught you about heat spells," Marak said, catching sight of Seylin and motioning for him not to disturb Kate. "They're based in Nameshda, the Warrior constellation, and they focus on the Foot Star. Find the constellation first and point to it." Kate, eyes closed, pointed toward the floor by the writing desk. "Reach to the Foot Star with one hand and with the other toward the stone as you say the spell. You should be able to feel the heat move by you on its way into the stone. Don't try to do too much. Less is better than more."

Kate nodded and moved her other hand into position. Marak watched as her lips moved and then looked down to examine the pan of water.

Seylin saw several things happen almost at once. Marak stepped back, throwing out his hand and giving a shout. All the water in the pan rushed up in a cloud of steam and whirled toward the King. When it reached his outstretched hand, the cloud splashed against an invisible wall and became a sheet of ice that fell to the floor and shattered. The metal pan melted with a sigh onto the stone, which was turning an alarming shade of cherry red.

Marak shouted again, but Kate stood oblivious, hands still outstretched. With a zing, the painted golden snake around her neck awoke and looped itself about her arms, jerking them to her sides. Marak bent and touched the stone, instantly chilling it. It cracked into several pieces, and the melted pan solidified into a flattened disk with the handle still extending from its side.

"What happened?" asked Kate curiously, opening her eyes.

i0Marak didn't look up. He was studying the wreckage of the cooking stone and pan, running his hand through his impossible hair. The golden snake twined back up to her shoulders and surveyed the damage too.

"Forty-seven King's Wives have tried to kill the King," it whispered calmly, "but only eight have tried to kill the King with elf magic." Seylin noticed a hint of complacent pride in the snake's sibilant voice.

"Charm, you know perfectly well I didn't try to kill the King!" said Kate in dismay. The snake looped around to study her innocent blue eyes. Then it let out a gentle hiss and collapsed back into painted sleep.

"Oh, yes you did, you bloodthirsty elf," replied Marak. "It's the Nameshda spells. Every time you've attempted a spell centered on the Warrior constellation, you've done some kind of damage. We don't need to wonder what your family did for the elf King, Kate. They were high-ranking military lords who devoted their lives to butchering goblins. When you make contact with the Warrior constellation, your proud elf blood burns, and you want to wrap your hands around the nearest goblin throat you can find."

"That's completely ridiculous!" exclaimed Kate. "Isn't it?" she added uncertainly.

For answer, Marak pried the pan off the shattered stone and held it out to her.

"Do I lie?" he pointed out. "No more Nameshda spells for you. Seylin, you can see why the King has to teach magic to outsiders. They can be very unpredictable and dangerous."

He put the pan on his writing desk and studied his petite, golden-haired wife for a minute. She certainly didn't look dangerous.

"No defense spells of any kind, Kate, they'll only strengthen your warrior tendencies. It's risky when the magic begins teaching itself like that. No more lessons this week, and we'd better calm down your right hand for a few days to prevent accidents. Your magic is excited now, and it will want more blood."

He took Kate's hand in both of his, the two right hands palm to palm, and stood motionless for a minute, frowning in concentration. After a few seconds, Kate tried to pull away.

"Ow!" she said. "Ow! Marak, you're hurting me!"

The goblin ignored her as he finished the magic. Then he looked down at her distressed face with a smile.

"That was your fault," he said. "You didn't want to give that power up, you elf assassin. You fought me to keep it. What killers your people must have been," he added, surveying her with fond pride. "It's lovely goblin revenge against your ancestors that I have you down here with me."

Kate felt her hand, scowling. "My whole arm's gone numb," she complained.

"And a very good thing, too," remarked the King, rubbing it for her. "I can't have you attacking our son the next time he comes running up to you. He's a little young to understand why his mother would try to kill him, and I think his defense magic would catch you by surprise."

"Marak!" exclaimed Kate. "I'd better not learn magic at all then. I don't want to hurt anybody."

"Other than me, you mean?" laughed her husband. "Don't fret. We'll just have to find something else you're good at besides killing people. Seylin, did you need to see me?"

Kate kissed her husband good-bye and walked off down the hallway, still rubbing her arm. The dog stood up, stretching luxuriously from her front feet to her back feet, and trotted off after her mistress.

Marak sat down at his desk and waved the young man to a stool. Seylin had always been Marak's special protégé, sharing the King's fascination with unusual magic, but he required a particular sort of handling. He wasn't like a goblin in his nature. He was sensitive and easily upset by things, the effect of his strongly dominant elf blood. Marak could see that he was upset now.

"Goblin King, I'm here to ask permission to leave the kingdom," divulged the miserable Seylin.

Marak's astonishment didn't show on his face. "When will you be coming back?" he asked.

"I don't know." Seylin sighed. "I don't think I will be coming back. I don't think there's much of a place for me here. I'm so different. I want to go live with my own people."

"Your own people," mused Marak, his unmatched eyes shrewd and the ghost of a smirk on his face. "Which people are those?"

The unhappy young man dropped his eyes guiltily and studied his hands without answering.

i0"Seylin," said Marak, "tell me what's wrong because it's something serious. At least, it had better be."

"I proposed to Em, and she rejected me," muttered Seylin. "She said she wants to marry Thaydar."

Marak stared at and through him, concentrating on the news. Emily and his wife Kate were sisters, but Emily had almost no elvish blood at all. The goblins called her a human. She had come to the kingdom voluntarily in order to be with her sister, and Marak had promised her that she would be allowed to choose her own husband one day. Emily and Seylin got along so well together that Marak had been sure of her choice, but here she was, picking a real goblin's goblin over twice her age. With that kind of taste, Marak thought, she'd have been a good King's Wife.

"So now you want to find an elf bride," he concluded. Seylin colored up in embarrassment.

"I don't know about that," he answered. "I just want to find some elves."

"What makes you think there are elves to find?" demanded Marak. "The last elf King has been dead for over two hundred years, and when he died, the elvish race died, too."

"The goblins never did track down every last elf," observed Seylin. "Some of the elf lords moved away during the elf harrowing along with groups of refugees."

"Marak Whiteye knew that they were finished," countered the King. "Most of the elf men died in battle. Their widows poured into the camps that remained, and there weren't enough hunters to feed them. They were starving to death. Whiteye didn't need to hunt them down."

"Kate's ancestor survived it," noted Seylin. "And if she did, so could others."

"Kate's ancestor had to marry a human man because her own people were dead, and she herself died almost a hundred years ago. These arguments don't convince me, Seylin. Why are they convincing you?"

The young man frowned at his hands again. He didn't look up as he spoke.

"I have a feeling about it. A feeling. That's all. We were coming back from the trading journey when I first noticed it. One night, I sensed that elves were near me in the forest. I almost felt pulled out of my skin. I've been restless ever since. It was like a call."

"A call." The King's eyes blazed with excitement. "I always knew you were born elvish for a reason. It's your magic-or it's wishful thinking. I don't know which. So now you want to go find your elves. And if you find them, are you going to tell your King about them?"

"Well-" Seylin blushed again. "I don't think they'd want me to. And I wouldn't want them to-to come to harm-because of me."

"Come to harm?" echoed Marak contemptuously. "Seylin, stop thinking like an elf! You are who you are, and I am who I am because elf brides 'came to harm.' You just saw an elf bride not five minutes ago. Would you say that Kate came to harm?"

"It can't matter," protested Seylin. "There must be so few elves left, if any. They need their own brides, or there won't be any more elves at all."

"An excellent point," agreed Marak. "But you're not willing to leave the decision up to my good judgment?"

The young man didn't answer.

"Oh, Seylin, you're confused," chuckled Marak. "Living with your people! You've spent too many years looking at your pretty face in the mirror."

In the silence that followed, the goblin King considered the proposed quest. It had possibilities, but that elf nature had to be free to do the hunting. Treat Seylin like a goblin, and the chance would be gone. Quite a chance for Seylin, quite a chance for the goblins. Maybe even a chance for the elves.

"Very well, I give you permission to hunt for elves," he said finally. "And here's what I can do for you and your people. I won't order anyone to follow you, and I won't authorize any goblin to contact the elves you may find. I will authorize no raids for brides, and I won't ask that you report to me. I will contact you, but I'll do it in such a way that your elf friends won't know, and you will be free to answer me or not. I won't ask that you return to the kingdom, either, although I do hope that someday you will."

Seylin felt a profound relief. He had been worried about leading goblins to an elf colony, but now he could live among his people with a clear conscience.

"There are only two conditions," added Marak dispassionately. "First, you are and always will be my subject, and I won't allow one of my subjects to suffer attack. If anyone attacks you, even an elf, I have the right to protect you and take revenge. The day-no, the second-that you suffer violent harm at the hands of an elf, I cancel all my promises. That's my obligation to you as your King because you are one of my people."

"That seems fair," remarked the young man. "I can't imagine anyone attacking me." The goblin King just smiled at him. He knew Seylin couldn't imagine it.

"And the second condition," he said, getting up and crossing to a drawer, "is that I need a lock of your hair and three drops of blood." He returned with a pair of scissors, a small plate, and an object that looked like a golden tack.

"Why?" demanded Seylin, immediately attracted by the thought of the magic.

"If I tell you it's a keepsake, would you believe me?" chuckled Marak. He cut off one of Seylin's black locks and arranged it carefully into a ring on the plate. Then, frowning absently, he stuck the young man's finger and squeezed three drops onto the hair.

"It's a tracking spell," guessed Seylin, "so you'll know where I am. That's good. I'm glad you'll be looking after me."

"Seylin, Seylin!" chuckled Marak. "You can't wait to leave here and find your people, but you're glad your King is looking after you. I don't know what will come from such a puzzle, but I'm anxious to find out. Here," he added, reaching for paper and writing a short note, "give this to the storeroom clerks, and they'll provide you with anything you need. Happy hunting for your people, but don't stay away too long. Your King hopes that you'll be back home with us soon."

After his unhappy subject left, Marak sat at his desk for an hour working intently over the lock of hair, weaving three different colors of waxed thread around it to seal it inside a braided ring.

"Guard, come!" he called, putting the finished ring into a drawer, and Tinsel appeared in the doorway. Tinsel wasn't excessively tall, but he seemed like a giant because of his broad build, and his skin was a dull silver-gray. His silver hair was the most startling thing about him. It looked like something the dwarves had made, and the light glittering on it almost hurt the eyes.

The goblin King surveyed his guard thoughtfully. Here was another strongly dominant elf cross, he thought to himself, rather good looking as goblins went, with no distinctive deformities. Blue or silver skin often showed up when strong elf blood hit goblin blood, and often the strong elf crosses had those blue eyes. Tinsel would have been a good match for Emily's age and elf ancestry, too, almost as good a match as Seylin. Marak studied the young guard a bit moodily. He'd have been a better match than Thaydar.

"Now, why haven't you been trying for young M yourself?" growled the King. "A handsome brute like you."

"Who, me?" asked Tinsel. "Thaydar and Seylin are both after her. Seylin and I were pages together, and Thaydar's my boss." He smiled his good-natured, slightly goofy smile. "That kind of trouble I don't need."

No, he wouldn't, considered Marak with a sigh. He'd find no fiercely competitive spirit here. Goblins generally got along, but Tinsel was beyond the pale. Remarkable for the calmness of his temper, he was just tremendously nice. This had led to a certain amount of teasing when he was a page, but Tinsel had developed a unique solution. He had picked up the tormenter and carried him around until the child promised to leave him alone.

"Go find M for me, Tinsel," said Marak resignedly. "I need to talk to her. I'll be in my rooms." He walked downstairs, thinking it over. Thaydar, of all goblins, and his Seylin gone from the kingdom entirely. He couldn't wait to hear Emily's side of this one.

He sat down in his favorite reading chair and pulled A History of the Kings of England out of the bookcase. Over the years, the goblins who went out on trading journeys had brought Kate a number of books. She used them to teach the pages their English, and she read them for pleasure. Marak read them as much as she did. He thought that a careful king should study those peoples whose lands bordered his own. He always picked this particular book when he was depressed about kingdom concerns; it cheered him up to see how horribly the human kings managed.

Kate lay on a couch nearby, her arm wrapped in a blanket and her lips moving as she read the book of elvish spells they were working through. She couldn't do the magic this week, but she could at least study. A companionable silence settled over the room.

"Do you know, Kate," murmured Marak after a while, "I don't believe these people have kings at all. Not a one of them does any healing or worries about the food crops."

Kate glanced up, trying to pay attention to her husband while remembering that deer health was governed by the Gilim constellation. She had always thought that elf magic would be about lochpretty things. It amazed her that so many of the spells had to do with deer.

"Of course we have kings," she answered firmly, good English citizen that she was. "Marak, what's the Gilim constellation? I can't place it."

"It's the Milky Way," he replied absently. "Gilim means herd; to the elves it looked like a herd of deer crossing a glade."

"Herd." Kate digested this. "I like Milky Way better. It sounds so much more romantic."

"Really?" Marak laughed. "I didn't know there was anything romantic about having a pan of milk spilled over your head." Kate went back to her spell book with a frown.

Emily hurried into the room without knocking, and Marak put down his book.

"Finally, M," he commented. "I've had Tinsel looking for you."

"Never mind about that," said Emily breathlessly. "Marak, you have to do something! Brindle said that Seylin went off on a trip, and he told Brindle he isn't coming back."

This looked like kingdom business, Kate decided, and she left the room to prepare for the day's English classes. Emily had gotten into plenty of scrapes and adventures over the years, and she and Marak had had many heated discussions. Kate was glad to stay out of them whenever she could.

"Yes, that's true," remarked Marak calmly. "Seylin asked me for permission to leave."

"But you can't let him leave like that!" said Emily. "Seylin can't just go away and not come back. Or maybe-maybe I could go with him," she suggested, brightening.

"M, you are not going with him," answered the goblin King. "He left the kingdom just to get away from you."

"From me?" echoed Emily, sitting down on the couch. She stared at him in amazement. "But why?"

"Congratulations on your choice of a husband," said Marak by way of reply. "I know how pleased Thaydar must be. I haven't talked to him yet, but I'm sure you have. I'd like to hold the marriage as soon as possible."

Emily gaped at him.

"I don't want to marry Thaydar!" she exclaimed.

fi0The goblin King returned her gaze impassively. "M, didn't you tell Seylin today that you wanted to marry Thaydar?"

Emily tried to remember their conversation.

"Well, yes and no," she answered. "I told him that I'd rather marry Thaydar than him, but only because he was being so rude. He made Brindle's little Penelope cry because he wouldn't change into a cat."

The goblin King's face lit up with amusement. "Seylin was proposing marriage to you," he cried, "and you wanted him to change into a cat?"

"Marriage?" gasped Emily. "He never mentioned marriage! He said that he wouldn't always be a Guard, and he didn't have much to offer, but-oh . . ." She trailed off, stunned.

Marak was helpless with laughter.

"Oh," he agreed when he recovered, wiping his eyes. "You certainly conveyed a clear refusal, anyway, as well as a clear preference for Thaydar. M, I told you that you were free to choose your own husband, and it's high time. Cats aside, which man do you want to marry?"

Emily continued to look dazed.

"I don't really know," she confessed. "I don't want to marry anybody. Why do I have to?"

Her brother-in-law rested his cheek on his hand and studied her affectionately. "What would you have said to Seylin if you'd known he was proposing?"

Emily shrugged. "I don't know," she admitted reluctantly. "I don't want Seylin to go away and not come back. But he's been the worst nuisance this year, standing around and goggling at me. He's never been less fun."

"Seylin finally realized that he loved you," pointed out the goblin King.

"Well, he didn't act like he loved me," complained the young woman. "All he did was grumble at me and act embarrassed. Why does it have to be like this? We were always such good friends."

Because sooner or later we all grow up, Marak reflected, and I should have known that Seylin would do it first. Lighthearted Emily was showing no real interest in growing up. It was time to give her a shove in the right direction.

"M, I have bad news," he announced. "Seylin thinks you're marrying Thaydar, so he's left the kingdom to find an elf bride. I'm afraid you'll have to put him completely out of your mind."

"An elf bride! There aren't any elves left!" protested the girl.

"Seylin thinks there are," observed Marak. "He thinks he almost met some, and I wouldn't be surprised if he's right. He doesn't intend to return, so he's no longer a suitable choice. I'll give you a couple of months to decide on a goblin man you'd prefer, and if you can't do that, I'll marry you to Thaydar. You expressed a preference for him, however briefly."

Emily stared at him in astonishment.

"But-but-Marak!" she spluttered.

"Seylin's quest is very important," cautioned her brother-in-law. "I refuse to allow you to interfere. Don't waste your time thinking about him. He has better things to do than remember past sweethearts, and so do you."

"I'm past?" exclaimed Emily furiously. "Me? Past?"

"I'm glad that's settled," commented Marak, standing up. "Time for court. As soon as you have that name, I'll be pleased to hear it."

He left, and Emily sat there, feeling completely stunned. So that was where Seylin had gone! He wanted to find an elf girl. Someone prettier than she was. Someone magical and fascinating. He didn't even care about her.

Meanwhile, Seylin huddled in the woods of Hallow Hill in the black cat shape that Emily loved. Probably Marak had already performed the wedding ceremony, he thought. Probably she was kissing Thaydar right this minute. She'd found herself a real goblin. She didn't even care about him.

Copyright © 2004 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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Close Kin (The Hollow Kingdom Trilogy #2) 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 18 reviews.
Angieville More than 1 year ago
CLOSE KIN is the second book in Clare B. Dunkle's Hollow Kingdom trilogy. It takes place around five years after THE HOLLOW KINGDOM and follows Kate's younger sister Emily. Or at least it seems to. Where THE HOLLOW KINGDOM stuck pretty closely to Kate's story, CLOSE KIN jumps around a fair bit, splitting its time three different ways as it traces the paths of Emily, her friend and would-be suitor Seylin, and an extremely unhappy elf named Sable.

When Emily fails to take Seylin's romantic advances seriously, half goblin/half elf Seylin informs the Goblin King he is leaving to search out his other heritage and see if he can find any elves who managed to survive the last goblin harrowing. He does, in fact, come across a rather feral group of elves but, having suffered much in the name of mere survival, they are barely recognizable as the beautiful, carefree creatures Seylin dreamt of. Among this group is a young woman named Sable who, to avoid being forced into an unwanted marriage, sliced her perfect face to ribbons and who now occupies a position lower than slave. Meanwhile, once Emily finds out Seylin has gone for good she immediately sets out on a quest of her own to bring the poor boy back home and attempt to sort out her feelings for him. Most likely in that order. All of this is, naturally, being overseen by the affectionate, if somewhat insufferably know-it-all, Marak.

This book suffered from a fairly uneven approach to the telling of the story. The narrative jumped from Seylin, to Emily, to Sable sometimes within the space of a few sentences and it was a bit jarring to try to figure out whose perspective I was getting from moment to moment. I was also not as enamored of Emily as I was of her sister Kate in the first book, which made it a bit difficult to really care whether or not she set herself straight and found her way to happiness. Sable, on the other hand, I liked quite a bit and it was both painful and comforting to watch her learn to trust others for probably the first time in her dismal life, and to accept that some helping hands are extended in precisely the spirit of kindness they claim to be. My favorite scenes were any scenes Marak was in and he continues to be my favorite thing about these books. It was good to see that he and Kate were well and happy and as suited to each other as I thought they were. I look forward to the final volume in the Hollow Kingdom trilogy.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This novel suffers from middle child syndrome. It lacks much of the sparkle of the first and third books due to the predictable and mind-numbing romance that takes up much of the page space. It was obvious in the first book that Seylin and Emily would end up together. There was no need to have them play the angst lovers in this one. It's particularly unfortunate since it took away time that could have been spent on Sable and her band, which were far more tragically engaging and would have provided the more interesting story. Overall, this novel was a mess with a weak structure and a nonexistent conclusion.
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Jasmyn9 More than 1 year ago
We met the sisters Kate and Emily in the first book, Hollow Kingdom. Their life since the joining Goblin society has been "uneventful." They both have their jobs to do, although those jobs would seem strange to most humans, and have made a place for themselves in the underground kingdom. However, Emily is getting older, and as a human woman, the Goblin King is not so patiently waiting to see which of his subjects she will choose to marry. Everything goes a little crazy when Seylin, a friend Emily made in the first book, proposes and Emily doesn't even realize it! Completely offended and heartbroken, Seylin leaves the kingdom to try and find his ancestors, the elves. Once Emily realizes that Seylin has left and what she did to him, she sets off to find him and bring him back. I still love Emily's character and I really wish we had seen more of her in this book. From the description, I thought it would be about half about her and half about Seylin. While Seylin was very heavily featured, Emily really lagged behind in coverage. Seylin is a very interesting character, but I didn't see him really grow or develop much here. I'm afraid that the second book in The Hollow Kingdom just isn't quite as good as the first, which is a trait I find quite often in series. I'm still going to try and read the third, but it will have to wait until I get some extra spending money. 3/5
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is the second book in the Hollow Kingdom Trilogy by Clare B. Dunkle. I myself found it as riveting as the first. Action-packed, with the perfect amount of romance. It's thrilling, and makes you feel as if you yourself are standing next to the character. It's a great book and even if you don't read, or even like, that much fantasy, this book has just the right amount of everything, cleverly written, it keeps you reading until you finish the book, unable to put it down, you continually tell yourself, "just one more page, just one more.." until you find yourself at the end. Once you come to the last page, you immediately feel a little sad, because your not ready to be done, I read every book in this series twice in a row, because I wasn't ready to be finished, I wanted to keep reading, that's how cleverly crafted this book is. I really reccommend this book to all age groups!
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Solstice-Ballad1 More than 1 year ago
Rich in culture, alluring and wonderful
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Guest More than 1 year ago
I read the first book in the series a while ago and was finally able to get this one. Dunkle is such a talented writer. Her words and paragraphs just flow into the next so nicely. But nothing happened in this book. It was very slow moving and there was no action. I liked the suttle romance about it, but besides that, there was nothing else. It was especially slow when the history was being explained. And even though its not my favorite series, I still love this it. It's perfect for any collection.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was a great book and possibly even better than the first. I love Emily and think she's a good main character, but I love reading things from Seylin's point of view as well. If you liked The Hollow Kingdom you should know this one is very similar but in this one elves play a big part.
Guest More than 1 year ago
`Close Kin¿ is a book written by Clare B. Dunkle. .It is about a young girl who sacrificed her freedom to stay with her sister in the goblin kingdom, but sets off to find the man she has hurt. It is a very inspirational story about how a few words can lead a close one to leave. The main character in this story is a girl named Emily, or Em. She is very stubborn and doesn¿t always know that what she says hurts. Once Emily told Seylin, her friend who had just proposed, `¿I certainly wouldn¿t marry you,¿ declared the wrathful Emily. ¿Not if you were the last goblin on earth.¿¿ She was angry but Seylin believed and set off on a journey. Emily is sent off on a journey of her own to seek `humanly nature¿. What is really driving her is that she wants to find Seylin, apologize, and ask him to marry her. She hates being bossed around and always tries to make it appear that she is good at everything easily, yet she really tries. `Day after day she ignored the lessons, reading her book during class. She never did any assignments or turned in the homework. But she earned a perfect score on all of Ruby¿s fabulously hard tests. None of the goblins ever managed that. Only Seylin even came close.¿ Yet Emily remarks later: `¿I studied and studied to earn all the perfect test scores. I did the homework, too, but I made sure nobody ever found out.¿¿ Emily is a young English girl who has decided to go down to the Goblin Kingdom with her older sister, Kate, who is currently the Kings Wife. Her best friend Seylin proposes marriage to her, but Emily thinks that he was just being rude. `¿Rude? I¿m rude? You never even listen to me, but that¿s not rude.¿¿ Seylin once yelled at Emily. He goes off to live with elves, leaving Em to learn her mistake and go on a journey to find him. She meets many diversions, including having to go with her old hated teacher Ruby, finding a goblin and two baby twins, and the fact that she has no sense of direction. Em finally finds Seylin, and they are married. They settle down in the goblin kingdom. This story is taken place when everything in England was proper. ` ¿I¿m going to take you to London. There¿s bound to be something in that hodgepodge of a place to impress you.¿¿ Just Emily¿s language suggests that this was an earlier time period. She also mentions London, and in the first book, it mentions that she and her sister used to live in a manor with their uncle and got around by carriages. The plot was stunning and contained many twists and turns on which both Seylin and Emily had to face. Emily was well written and a reader could tell that Emily was always determined to get her way. She worked in well with the other characters and with the plot, making sure that all of the characters learned a valuable lesson in the end.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I love all of the hollow kingdoms book my friend and i read them in day. it's such an interesting world, the conflict keeps you interested its such a page turner, i absolutle love this book