Thursday, January 19, 2012
Clare.B.Dunkle's The Hollow Kingdom
The Hollow Kingdom is the first in a trilogy written by author Clare B.Dunkle. In the story’s prologue, readers are introduced to the horror of a young girl who, seventy-years prior to the story’s onset, is kidnapped by goblins and made to stay in their underground world. Readers are left wondering who this girl is, not knowing how important a role she’ll play in the story to come.
Seventy years later, Kate and her sister Emily Winslow are sent to live with great aunts in the English country-side after the death of their beloved father two months prior. As the late Mr.Winslow had no son, the lands were—according to the laws of the time—passed down to the closet male relative. This left Kate and Emily without a home, and forced them to relocate into a strange environment with relatives they barely knew. In truth, a relative of the girls’ mother, Hugh Roberts, had been assigned legal guardianship, but wanted no part in raising the girls. It was then that they were turned over into the care of their great aunts, and it was then that the story really begins. The girls’ new home is located near Hallow Lake, and situated by Hallow Hill. After inquiring about the origin behind these names, the two are engulfed with wild tales of goblins and kidnapped brides. Little did the two suspect that such legends would turn out to be painfully true. Dunkle guides us through Kate’s plight to avoid capture from a seemingly morally ambiguous goblin king, all the while combating her relative Hugh Roberts, who would like nothing better than to see her and Emily leave "his" lands.
I have to say, I really love this book. The writing is nice and descriptive, but not overly descriptive so as to serve as a distraction. The story is intriguing, and readers will be surprised at how Dunkle manages to take assumptions based on appearances and turns them upside-down with her array of unique goblin characters and the foreign world which they inhabit. The eventual turn the story takes surprised me too, which is something not a lot of books manage to accomplish. Underneath the initial layer of this story lies an interesting commentary on ethnocentrism, as well as a unique perspective in regards to the dark issue of abduction. Dunkle doesn’t romanticize this issue either, but she does provide a rather unique scenario in which readers are asked to evaluate this goblin culture’s motives regarding kidnapping, as well as their view of our human culture. The only real complaint I’ve ever had with this book is a strange transition in chapter ten, right before part II of the book. I’ve always felt like something was missing in between this gap, and every time I read this book the absence of that something always bothers me. I can’t comment to a greater degree without giving too much of the story away, but I will say that despite this awkward area, this book is a good one. Readers familiar with Young Adult novels(specifically ones belonging to the fantasy genre), will definitely find many likeable features in this story. It can also serve as a good introduction into the fantasy genre for a reader unaccustomed to it, as the amount of magic in the book isn’t overwhelming, and the explanations of said magic are fairly simple. Overall this book is a great read, and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a new reading companion.