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Hello and welcome to the first Celebrating Indie Publishing post of 2018!  Yes, it is the first post for this as I took some time out in January to scale the mountainous reading pile before it toppled over and have only posted a few scheduled shares here and there.

Today I am delighted to share a review of a book I stumbled upon last year by chance, it’s one that was previously published by Freight Books and has been picked up by the mighty and amazing Saraband who are publishing some pretty fantastic books this year.  Anyway, enough of my wittering, lets get on to the book….

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** My thanks to Sara at Saraband Books for my copy of this book **

 

Description:

Ian McEwan’s Atonement meets Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth in this extraordinary debut.

A novel set between the past and present with magical realist elements. Goblin is an outcast girl growing up in London during World War 2. After witnessing a shocking event she increasingly takes refuge in a self-constructed but magical imaginary world. Having been rejected by her mother, she leads a feral life amidst the craters of London’s Blitz, and takes comfort in her family of animals, abandoned pets she’s rescued from London’s streets.

In 2011, a chance meeting and an unwanted phone call compels an elderly Goblin to return to London amidst the riots and face the ghosts of her past. Will she discover the truth buried deep in her fractured memory or retreat to the safety of near madness? In Goblin, debut novelist Dundas has constructed an utterly beguiling historical tale with an unforgettable female protagonist at its centre.

My Thoughts & Review:

From the moment that I heard about Goblin I was intrigued, it sounded like a very different read and one very unlike anything I’ve read before and I wasn’t wrong!  The storyline moves between different times and locations, but always follows our protagonist Goblin who grew began her days in London.

At the beginning of the book there is a scene that will make many readers chuckle, some will screech in horror, but mostly I think they will appreciate the wit of Ben eating his way through Ulysses, and will not give in until he has finished the book.  ‘Old Lady’ affectionately named by Ben, is Mrs G Bradfield, the Reader in Residence in the Edinburgh library who tries to dissuade Ben from his quest to rid the library of the James Joyce book before realising that this is simply something that he must do.  Her acceptance of this is the first instance readers will get of there being more to this character than first meets the eye.
As the time line flicks between 2011 Edinburgh and 1941 London a link between Mrs G Bradfield and Goblin becomes apparent, and I will admit, in the beginning I wasn’t quite sure how these two were connected but soon it becomes apparent that they are the same person.

Goblin, as we get to know the character doesn’t have a name as such, or at least we don’t ever see her being addressed as anything other than Goblin by her family and friends.  Having been rejected by her mother at a young age, she has formed a bond with her dear dog Devil, who she sees as her best friend and confidant.  There is a respectful silence between Goblin and her father, him allowing her to watch as he repaired various electrical items such as radios when she was younger so that as she grew she was able to help him.  But the human who holds the dearest space in her heart is her brother, he is the one that offers her the relationship that she misses out on with their mother.  His care and compassion towards his younger sister is touching and endearing to see, whilst it is true that younger siblings can be testing at times, and the pair do squabble or fall out, they also have a wonderful bond.

As the plot moves on we see that Goblin has invented a world of make believe around herself, trying to find adventure in her surroundings and living in a world of Martians, Nazis and the Lizard People.  Her imagination is powerful, and part of me wonders if this inventiveness was merely a coping mechanism, seeking a bond with something to fill the parental void.  Whilst most children would have outgrown this imaginary world, Goblin instead fully immerses herself in it, regaling those around her of magical tales of the Underworld and the Lizard People, this make believe world forming a shell, a protective bubble around herself to shield her of the horrifying realities of the world around her.

Ever Dundas has recently won the Saltire First Book Award 2017 for Goblin and it is very clear why, this is an incredibly well written novel that is beautifully poignant, and the juxtaposition of abandonment and neglect with humour makes this such a compelling read and the believable characters bring it all to life.
The only negative thing that I have about this book was that it was initially a little confusing when reading, the way that the plot jumps back and forth between the different times did take a little getting used to, and once I’d grasped the style of writing I found it worked so well with the story, it almost felt like the jumps back were perhaps tangents of Goblin’s aged mind lost in thought and reminiscing.  A stunning debut that I would heartily recommend!

‘Mon Team Corporal Pig!!

 You can buy a copy of Goblin via:

Amazon UK
Wordery
Book Depository

 

 

 

 

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