Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Close Kin, Clare Dunkle

“Goblins are just a tale to frighten children.”

Emily might have believed this once, but she knows better now. For years she has been living happily in the underground goblin kingdom. Now Emily is old enough to marry, but when her childhood friend Seylin proposes, she doesn’t take him seriously.

Devastated, Seylin leaves the kingdom, intent on finding his own people: the elves. Too late, Emily realizes what Seylin means to her and sets out in search of him. But her quest, like Seylin’s own journey, is really a plot devised by the cunning goblin King, who has his own reason to hunt for elves. As Emily and Seylin come closer to their goals, they bring two worlds onto a collision course, awakening hatreds and prejudices that have slumbered for hundreds of years.

In this sequel to The Hollow Kingdom, Clare Dunkle draws readers deeper into the magical world that Lloyd Alexander, winner of the Newbery Medal, calls “as persuasive as it is remarkable.”
I was really excited to read this book after loving The Hollow Kingdom so much. Then I realized that the story shifts to focus on characters other than Marak and Kate. I almost always hate when series do this. Clearly, I like the characters in the first book and that's why I want to read more about them. So this made me pretty apprehensive about reading this one.

Happily this book did not let me down. I found that I was just as happy to read about Emily and Seylin as I was to read about Kate and Marak. It does help that Kate and Marak both have parts to play in this story but I think mostly it is due to the fascinating world Clare Dunkle has created. That is consistent between both books so that even though I was reading about different characters I still felt like I was in the same familiar place. It is really rare for me to find that I like both books in a series equally but in this case I do. Close Kin was really great! Hopefully, I will love the last book just as much.

My only minor quibble and it's not really even a quibble is that the focus on the fear of pregnancy and childbirth with its related plot thread about Sable and her sad, abused life was pretty icky. Not inappropriate for kids icky just the kind of icky that probably would have upset me when I was 12, which thankfully I am not!

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