Friday, June 3, 2011
The Hollow Kingdom
Henry Holt and Company, 2003
YA; Fantasy; Fairy Tale
Read for YA Overlooked Book Battle.
This book was divided into three parts (plus a prologue) that each left me feeling very different ways. SOME SPOILERS
The first part details Kate and Emily's arrival at Hallow Hill, newly orphaned and destined to live with their great-aunts. After their arrival, Kate begins to fret, sensing something around her. The threat emerges as the evil Goblin King Marak dogs Kate's steps and destroys her peace of mind. This is compounded by her guardian Hugh's callous disregard for her nerves and his plan to put her in an insane asylum. Overall the emotion I felt most was terror at Kate's attempts to achieve safety and Marak and Hugh's actions to prevent that.
The second part features Kate willingly enter Marak's kingdom in exchange for the safety of her sister. I mostly felt anger here as Kate is magically charmed and will never leave the underground goblin kingdom again. Marak repeatedly reminds her that she came willingly but what other options did she have?
The third part is a year and a half later where Marak and Kate have settled into marriage but outside magical forces threaten them. Kate must fight to save her family. This part made me more sad that a. Kate has Stockholm Syndrome and b. that she no longer really cares about the sky with its stars and moon etc. It seems to be that Kate thinks she is better off and that she is truly in love with Marak (and has been ever since she met him, even when he was terrifying her). I was a mix of angry, disgusted, and feeling compassion for poor misguided Kate.
Also of note are the characters Seylin and Emily who will take center-stage in the second book. Seylin is part goblin but he looks more elfish and is thus unpopular within the goblin community. Instead he spends most of his time as a cat. Emily becomes his friend as a fellow outsider and enthusiastic connoisseur of goblin life. They don't play a very big role in this book other than to be introduced.
I was somewhat reminded of "Beauty and the Beast" while I was reading this, especially because Kate is reported as very beautiful and Marak is disgusting. However the feelings inspired by BatB are overall much more positive than those inspired by this book; probably because it's shorter and isolated while the goblin stealing bride tradition has been happening for generations and its ramifications are left unexplored in this book.
Overall: An interesting fantasy with some great elements but I found the heart of the story problematic; I am interested in the sequel in order to read more about Seylin.
Cover: I think it's kind of ugly. I mostly read this because it was short and I wanted to finish some more books for the book battle.