I did not know this book was the start of a series when I requested it. If I had, I probably would not have read it, and that would have been a shame. I really did enjoy it! I don’t know much about goblins or Irish mythology so this served as an exciting introduction.
Of course, the whole thing actually takes place in Chicago, not Ireland, but more on that later.
Our hero is Teegan, a 15 year old with a part-time job speaking sign language to a chimpanzee and helping to feed abandoned hedgehogs at the zoo. Her goal in life is to be a vet, and she seems to be headed in the right direction. Mom is an illustrator of children’s books, Dad’s a librarian (:-)), and her little brother Aiden is almost old enough for school, has an amazing ear for music, and a fear of Elvis Impersonators. Life is going well until one day, on the bus home from work, Teegan’s best friend Abby pulls her off the bus insisting they go into St. Drogo’s and be blessed. Something bad is coming, and Abby wants Teegan to be safe.
She gets home to discover that her cousin Finn has been brought to stay with her family since the Irish Travellers haven’t been able to provide a stable home for him (as far as the State of Illinois is concerned). Teegan’s mother used to be a Traveller too (born in Ireland, but moved to the US as a girl), before she settled down. Finn, though, seems worried that something is after him, and hopes not to stay long. Teegan’s not sure what’s up, but there is definitely some electricity surging between her and her cousin.
Before long, Teegan and Aiden have started to see ugly, cat-like creatures watching them from around corners, and Finn leaves in the middle of the night. Mom falls ill and Dad disappears, only to reappear confused and disoriented. When Finn returns, there’s no choice but to head into Mag Mell for some answers.
This book was a much wilder ride than I expected. Mrs. Wylltson, Teegan’s mother, draws scary books because that’s what evil characters like Ginny Greenteeth look like, and Hamilton adheres to the same rules. The goblins (cat-sidhe) in the book are nasty, evil and not to be trusted. They’re also more pernicious than violent, which is somewhat more disconcerting. The book’s a bit of a page turner, once it gets going. All of the characters are fully realized (in spite of the Italian stereotypes for Abby and her family), and I am very interested to see where the series takes them.
The series is called “Goblin Wars,” by the way. I don’t think it’s connected with the role-playing game though. I checked.
Recommended for Middle School libraries and up. It’s pretty scary, but that’s the only warning.