“Clare Dunkle brings a fresh new voice 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. Splendid!” Lloyd Alexander
“[A] fresh, powerful twist on the Beauty-and-the-Beast theme, and the impact of Dunkle's evocative storytelling lingers long after the final page.” Booklist
“[F]irst time novelist Dunkle turns out a luminously polished fantasy that starts off strong and just gets better. . . .The story line does not slow, offering suspense and plenty of evil to be vanquished. A masterly debut, it will almost certainly leave audiences hoping for more.” Publishers Weekly, starred
“This is an interesting fantasy world with well-realized characters.” School Library Journal
“[A] charming fantasy romance.” Locus
In a starred review, PW said that Dunkle, in a "masterly debut,... laces her plotting with twists and surprises, at the same time staying true to archetypal themes about love and death." Ages 12-up. (Sept.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
To quote from the review of the audiobook in KLIATT, July 2004: Girls especially will appreciate this first in a proposed fantasy trilogy about Kate and her young sister Emily who inherit property in 19th-century England. The house and grounds come with a legend about goblins. Kate doesn't believe in them at first, but the appearance of Marak, the goblin king, soon has her terrified because he insists that she marry him and live underground for the rest of her life. Like Persephone and Beauty, Kate is not interested in a beastly husband. However, she marches voluntarily into the underground kingdom after Emily disappears and demands the return of her sister. Marak is pleased at Kate's promise to wed him, but doesn't have Emily. Who has kidnapped her and why? (An ALA Best Book for YAs.)
This fantastical romance between a girl, who turns out to be something else entirely, and a goblin king who insists on capturing her is, by turns, beautiful and horrifying. The descriptions of the goblins indicate a world which is turned topsy-turvy and rather disturbing, but the heroine Kate is a spunky generous courageous girl. Attempting to outwit her human guardian, she outwits herself and surrenders her life to the Goblin King in order to rescue her sister from imprisonment. She discovers the true bargain she has made as her guardian is first treated to a magic spell that forces him to speak the truth always, and then punished for his misdeeds by more magic; he is forced to walk upside down for the rest of his short life. A terrifying wedding ceremony reveals Kate's secrets and imprints her with a golden protector snake. When the Kingdom is threatened and the Goblin King Marak's spirit goes forth to rescue his fellow goblins, caught under the spell of a sorcerer, Kate and her protector snake discover a way to rescue King and Kingdom. Since it's a romance, albeit an unusual one, Kate learns to love her husband and, indeed, the first-born son at whose sight, despite her determination not to, she cries! For the girl who loves fantasy and is beginning to wonder about love, this story will take her on a fascinating journey. 2003, Henry Holt and Company, Ages 12 up.
Newly orphaned Kate and Emily have moved to Kate's inherited estate of Hollow Hill. Their guardian is their great-uncle, who has been living quite happily at the estate for years. One day the girls come upon a druid's circle that their uncle had mentioned, and Kate instantly feels more at home there than anywhere else. Soon after Kate and Emily become lost in a storm on their way home from exploring. Although Kate is wary, Emily fearlessly approaches a band of gypsies to ask for help. Upon arriving home Emily runs inside, and Kate is left alone with the gypsy. He mocks Kate's fear, and she speaks sharply to him, after which he throws backs his hood to reveal himself as the goblin, Marak. Kate is soon immersed in the adventure of a lifetime, filled with family secrets, betrayal, and revenge. Marak plans to have Kate for his bride and takes her underground for the rest of her life. Calling to mind aspects of Persephone as well as Beauty and the Beast, Dunkle develops her characters in such a way that readers sympathize not only with the sisters but also with the Goblin King and his subjects. Librarians will have to push readers past the bland cover that belies the treasure within. Once fantasy fans begin this story, they will be unable to put it down. VOYA Codes: 5Q 3P J S (Hard to imagine it being any better written; Will appeal with pushing; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2003, Henry Holt, 240p., Ages 12 to 18.
Gr 6-9-Kate and her younger sister, Emily, are orphans, sent to live with great aunts at remote and mysterious Hallow Hill. Hugh Roberts, their guardian, is a surly and somewhat sinister cousin. One afternoon, the girls come upon some strange people and an abnormally huge cat in a clearing. One of these folk, Marak, is a goblin king. He needs Kate to be his human bride, for goblins may not marry their own kind. When Emily disappears, Kate assumes that he is responsible and agrees to marry him in exchange for her sister's freedom. Once in the goblins' vast underground kingdom, Kate is sure she will die from not being able to see the stars. But she does marry Marak and assumes her life as a queen. At this point the plot takes an unexpected turn. A sorcerer attacks Marak, and Kate discovers some surprising things about herself and her relationship with her husband. This is an interesting fantasy world with well-realized characters. Hugh Roberts is a true villain and Kate is a feisty heroine. Marak is frequently described as an ugly monster, and he definitely comes across as something other than human. However, he has a good nature and a sense of humor as well as a great love for his chosen wife. The goblin kingdom itself is beautifully described, as are the strange creatures that inhabit it. The story moves a bit slowly in places, but overall it should attract readers who like magic and adventure. Kate is surely a heroine to be reckoned with, and girls will relate to her predicament.-Bruce Anne Shook, Mendenhall Middle School, Greensboro, NC Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Dunkle pens an inconsistent fantasy. Orphaned Kate and Emily have come to live in the family home, Hallow Hill. Kate thinks she's being watched, and she's right: the king of the goblins-grotesque, but strangely appealing-wants to carry her away to be his wife. Wickedly taunting, King Marak never quite prevails over the resourceful Kate, until Emily disappears and Kate bargains away her freedom in return for Emily's safety. Alas, it was not the honorable and smitten Marak who was the kidnapper, but the girls' wicked guardian. Nonetheless, Kate and Marak are married in a bizarre ceremony. Emily's gleeful at living underground among goblins, but Kate misses the stars. When a wicked sorcerer steals the spirits of Marak and his subjects, it is up to the unwilling bride to save them all. Frequently magical, with compelling plot twists, but weakened by awkward timing and uneven structure. (Fiction. 11-15)