Author: Clare B. Dunkle
Publication Date: 9/19/06
Publisher: Henry Holt and Company
Blurb(GR): "She had never screamed before, not when she overturned the rowboat and almost drowned, not even when Lightfoot bucked her off and she felt her leg break underneath her with an agonizing crunch. But now she screamed long and loud, with all her breath."
Hallow Hill has a strange and tragic history. For thousands of years, young women have been vanishing from the estate, never to be seen again. Now Kate and Emily have come to live at Hallow Hill. Brought up in a civilized age, they have no idea of the land's dreadful heritage-until, that is, Marak decides to tell them himself.
Intelligent, pleasant, and completely pitiless, Marak is a powerful magician who claims to be a king-and he has very specific plans for the two new girls who have trespassed into his kingdom. The Hollow Kingdom is a 2004 Bank Street - Best Children's Book of the Year.
This book is exactly the type of fairy tale that I love the most. Now, I know that I have been outspoken in the past about my dislike of fantasies featuring caveman, bad-boy type hero characters. However, I think that I know and respect dozens of women who melt in the presence of these guys. Do I look down on my friends for their fantasy preferences? Absolutely not, because guess what? We all have a fantasy weakness. We all have that certain fairy tale that bypasses every logical part of our brains and just makes us feel giddy and excited. So, you can safely assume that mine is decidedly not the perfect specimen, territorial, alpha male. This book keys into the fairy tale that’s always turned me into a puddle of goo:
This book is not going to go down in history as one of the greatest works of all time, but I can feasibly see myself re-reading it whenever I need a bit of comfort. It’s like the literary equivalent of a grilled cheese sandwich. I was completely drawn in by
the prologue, and by the time the intelligent, practical, and resourceful heroine Kate and her plucky little sister Emily run into the Goblin King Marak I knew that this would become a favorite of mine.
Marak is the ruler of a colorful, dangerous race of goblins, dwarves, and elves who live within Hollow Hill. It is a long and traditional practice for the Goblin King to steal a human or elf bride and imprison her underground until the next King is born and his people are secure. When Kate inherits Hollow Hill after her father’s death, she and her sister become the wards of two elderly great aunts and a shady, pretentious cousin. Kate and her sister soon catch the eye of the Goblin King, but Kate is revolted and determined to escape his grasp at all costs.
As Kate and Marak engage in a battle of wills and wits, this book actually began to remind me of Pride and Prejudice. These two characters have a lot of preconceived notions and ideas about each other, and their verbal sparring is charged and exhilarating. Here is one of my favorite scenes:
”’Indeed it is, Kate,’ Marak agreed. ‘It’s time to plan your revenge. Goblins just adore revenge.’ He grinned. ‘Do you have anything in mind?’
Kate was taken aback. ‘Revenge is wrong,’ she told him solemnly. ‘Vengeance belongs to God.’
The goblin put his head to one side and watched her through narrowed eyes. ‘You won’t even give God a little help?’ he asked softly.”
Kate is independent and powerful, but not unrealistically so. She’s a proper Englishwoman who reacts in realistic ways to her surroundings and the hideous goblin court. And by the end of this book, she fits the specs for all of my favorite female heroines: she’s determined, powerful, a bit merciless and bloodthirsty, and she has a sword (plus the most entertaining magical charm around).
My only “thirty year old woman” type gripe is that this book, despite being what I would class as a romance novel, is
clean enough to give to a ten year old. Which is actually great for when my daughters get a bit older, but the lack of anything even mildly suggestive felt like a big gaping omission to me.
Perfect Musical Pairing
Joshua Radin – The Fear You Won’t Fall
This sugary sweet song is not something that I like to listen to all the time, but it’s a definite comfort food song for me. This is a song about falling harder than you thought you could for someone, who may or may not love you back.