But somehow Shona Husk managed to make The Goblin King into a sweeping romance of love and redemption as well as a darkly sensual twist on Beauty and the Beast.
Once upon a time, Roan was a Celtic prince, back when Rome ruled the Western world. Back when the Druids practiced real magic. His people rebelled, and failed. Roan and his band of warriors were condemned, not to death, because death would have been too quick, but to eternity in the Shadowlands. Eternity as goblins.
Their punishment didn’t come from the Romans for the attempt, it came from a Druid priest for betraying the rebellion. The worst of it was, Roan and his men weren’t even guilty.
But the Druid could never admit his mistake, so the punishment continued, century after century, as one by one, Roan’s men fell to the curse. Either their souls were eaten away by the goblin’s lust for gold, or they died in fighting the goblin horde.
Roan was King of his band of goblin-men. Being a goblin meant that any human could summon him to the Fixed Realm that we call Earth. Roan had to obey the summons, but he learned that he didn’t have to obey the summoner, not if he was willing to endure a little pain.
One 20th century summer, a girl on the cusp of womanhood summoned him, to rescue her from her brother’s drunken friends. Eliza thought the Goblin King would serve her better than rape by drunken teenage boys. She turned out to be right.
Years later, faced with a fiance who has both stolen from her and brutalized her, Eliza choses to summon the Goblin King again. A goblin who is what he is has to be better than a goblin who pretends to be a man.
Roan almost doesn’t remember her. The goblin curse almost has him, but not quite. And Eliza brings him back from the brink of the darkness. Except that time is running out. Roan’s kingdom in the Shadowlands is about to be physically overrun by goblins. Roan and his brother Dai are the only two warriors left, and even the magical defenses he has created have limits.
Eliza is his queen, but unless she can break his curse, he cannot return to the Fixed Realm, to Earth. If she stays in the Shadowlands, she will die with him. If she returns to her own place, her conniving fiancee will ruin her, or possibly worse.
The Druid priest wants to destroy everything Roan holds dear, including Eliza. Can they find the answer before it is too late?
Escape Rating A-: Making a goblin the hero was a stroke of genius. Absolutely brilliant. He’s a piece of mythology you don’t see used much, and certainly don’t imagine in the hero role. Yes, it’s a take-off on Beauty and the Beast, so what? West Side Story was Romeo and Juliet. The point is that it’s well done.
I always like it when the hero and heroine (or hero and hero) rescue each other. He doesn’t just sweep her off of her feet. He needs to be rescued every bit as much as she does. It’s not one-sided.
My only teeny-tiny wish is that the evil fiance, Steve, hadn’t been quite so cookie-cutter dastardly. In a story where all the other characters were multi-dimensional, his one-dimensional-ness stood out. So to speak.
The story of Roan’s first meeting with Eliza, where she summons him to rescue her from her brother’s drunken friends, is appropriately titled The Summons. It’s a prequel enovella and is currently available free. At that price it is definitely worth reading!