Appearing in his first full-length novel, Hob, the benevolent house ghost who has previously appeared in the British author's picture books, here adopts a family moving into an old country house. Unbeknownst to Mr. and Mrs. Grimes, their new home, known as Fairy Ring Cottage, contains ``a door to the goblin country.'' The children, Tom and Meg, can see Hob, and they also sense danger before their parents do. But, after a terrifying climax which chaotically and violently combines a goblin king and his goblin followers, a band of dwarves, a witch, a possessed bus and a stolen pot of magical gold, Mr. Grimes, too, recognizes the presence-as well as the benefits-of their whimsical, worry-wart and interestingly maternal house spirit. Each of the characters is fully believable, including the supernatural Hob (who, disarmingly, refers to himself in the third person: ``That's what we want most.... A bit of normal: family round the fire, Hob in the hearth''). Mayne is remarkably deft at opening up a fantasy realm to readers of all ages through his playful prose, which twists and stretches to create sly humor, earnest sympathy and, at times, genuine darkness. Ages 8-11. (Sept.)
K-Gr 4-This well-written fantasy expands the adventures of Mayne's home-loving hero, Hob. The swift-moving and original plot sweeps readers into a magical world of goblins, gremlins, witches, and dwarfs, in which a classic confrontation between good and evil comes to a comically surprising ending. This time around, Hob moves in with the Grimes family: father, mother, sister, brother, and baby. Attempting to make a spooky old cottage cozy, the Grimeses are largely unaware of the evil forces that surround them. Hob, whose usual task is to combat everyday problems such as ``floorshiver'' or ``plastercrack,'' is daunted at the prospect of standing up to the local witch, a horde of goblins, and the monstrous goblin king. However, he manages to acquire the necessary swords from the dwarfs and, along with the children, defends the family and their home. Previous acquaintance with Hob is not necessary to enjoy this title, but familiarity with folktale conventions and a somewhat sophisticated ear for language will help young listeners to follow the story. Mayne's writing style is deceptively simple, presenting a complex, fanciful world in a matter-of-fact manner. His quiet humor enhances the book's appeal, as do the cleverly illustrated initials at the start of each chapter. A perfect choice for readers with a taste for classic fantasy.-Lisa Dennis, The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh
Hob, a friendly, usually invisible English household spirit who was the subject of several picture books, now appears in a novel for older readers. When the family h
protects moves from London to Fairy Ring Cottage, a bedeviled house in the country, Hob must do what he can to rescue them from the evil forces there. His task is made more difficult by the parents' determined blindness to the magical creatures around them. Mayne's way with words is as remarkable as ever, and Hob is certainly convincing, but children old enough to read the book may find Hob less appealing as a main character than the picture-book audience did. A handsomely designed book, recommended mainly for large libraries.