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What I Read: Goblins and Fairies and Witches! Oh My!
I have been in a bit of a fairytale inspired reading trend over the past couple of weeks. It all started with a book series inspired by the movie Labyrinth. I love that movie!
Because the book was from the Kindle Unlimited program, this created a spiral of suggested reads from the algorithm that had lots of similarities. Can’t say I am sorry for it either. So just in time for Halloween is my What I Read: Goblins and Fairies and Witches edition. Happy reading!
Usually, my Kindle Unlimited subscription is used for books on blogging, writing, and time management. Based on a suggested read from the Amazon algorithm, I tried out the book 1 of the Of Goblin Kings series by Emma Hamm. Of Goblins and Gold is the first book in a series of five books. If you are a Jim Henson’s Labyrinth fan, then you need to read this book! Freya journeys through the four kingdoms of the Fae on a quest to find the essence of each kingdom as part of a deal made with the Goblin King for the return of her sister, Esther, who has been taken to the Goblin kingdom. But things are not always what they seem with the fae.
It is an inspired twist on the familiar story. Freya is not Sarah and Eldridge (The Goblin King) is not Jareth…though maybe Arrow is a combination of Hoggle and Sir Didymus. It also reminded me of other stories, but I can’t quite put my finger on it. Maybe a little bit of Beauty and the Beast, Wizard of Oz, LOTR, and Willow. As soon as I was finished, I downloaded book two and so forth. Future books introduce additional fae as well as supernatural creatures like werewolves.
Books 1 & 2 were my favorite in the series. As soon as I finished Book 5, I rewatched the movie for the umpteenth time and realized how many other scenes in the series were inspired by the movie as well. It made me appreciate the last three books even more. The Goblin King is loosely based on Jareth, but more of a darker, more tragic version of him. He still moves the stars for no one though. I liked Freya a lot more than Sarah. She feels like an older and less whiny main lead. There is still the issue of having to watch over the younger sibling and the loss of a mother, but much different direction. The real winner for me in the series was the dog goblin character, Arrow. I really want to read more books with him.
Continuing with the recommendations from the Amazon algorithm, I next moved on to author Sylvia Mercedes…
The Candlelight and Shadows series features two novels, Moonfire Brideand Sunfire Bride. The plot is based on the fairytale East of the Sun, West of the Moon which also closely resembles the myth of Cupid and Psyche. Valera is a seamstress taking care of both her younger sister and her drunkard father. Her father claims the family is under a curse from their maternal grandmother that keeps them destitute. While she works, Valera is being watched from the shadows for she has caught the attention of the fae. She soon finds herself a stolen bride with a deal to stay with her fae spouse for one year’s time. Just like in the inspiration tales, she cannot see her husband face other than glimpses of shadow. She knows there is a curse involved, but she has to work out the clues to know what that might be.
I won’t spoil Book 2 other than to say a perhaps less familiar tale, Donkey Skin, plays a part in the inspiration with a dress made of sky, a dress made of moonlight, and a dress as dazzling as the sun. This is also where the story follows more of the Norwegian fairytale inspiration than the Greek myth because there is a evil stepmother like character, but she more closely resembles the troll from the other version (just without the daughter).
Then there is a third book which is not part of the series, but still features in the same world, Of Wolves and Wardens. This third book continues the story of Valera’s sister, Brielle. Time moves differently in the world of the fae. While a year may not have passed for Valera, many years have passed for her sister. Which means she was left alone with their drunkard father and did what she could to survive. This hardened her as can be seen in book two of the previous series. In this standalone book, she must serve seven years for her grandmother, a witch of the ward. Her grandmother is not what she appear to be and it is up to Brielle and the werewolf, Dire, to find a way to make things right. I loved this book because it reminded me of Beauty and the Beast stories, but a different telling than the normal ones. Brielle is a very strong character and while she has flaws, she grows as a person.
East of the Sun, West of the Moonwas the inspiration for another fairytale inspired novel by Emma Hamm, Curse of the Troll. This was Book 6 in Hamm’s Otherworld series, but I read it as a stand alone and really did not have much problem with missing the backstory. While it took from the same inspiration tales as Mercedes’ version, I think this one reminded me more of the original story. For example, the Troll Princess features in this version. There were also bits that reminded me of Disney’s Frozen. Don’t you just love love?
The last fairytale inspired romance that I read from the algorithm was from the series Entangled with the Fae by Tessonja Odette. Curse of the Wolf King takes place in a more modern fairytale kingdom. It reminded me a bit of Regency Romances. Gemma lives with her father and younger sister. She is a bit of an introvert who would rather read a romance than take part in courting. Truthfully, she is done with love after a disastrous scandal, but marriage is what a young lady of her station does…unless she can find freedom away from her father through employment. The job offer she receives seems almost too good to be true. It is as the steward to a Fae Royal who lives on the outskirts of town. Of course he would turn out to be a cursed Fae, but a deal is a deal and Gemma will do what she can to help her employer and in the end also help herself. Of course love would have to complicate things again. I loved this retelling of the Beauty and the Beast tale. I found the modernization to be a bit scratchy after reading books set in medieval villages, but there were roses and wolves and snow as well as an entourage of characters supporting the story. King Elliot very much reminded me of Disney’s Prince Adam and Gemma was quite a bit like Belle.
If you couldn’t tell by now, I am a sucker for a Beauty and the Beast retelling. I have also tried reading Sarah J. Maas’s A Court of Thorns and Roses series. I have only made it as far as partway through Book 2. I don’t like love triangles and I am afraid that is where it is going…even though I much prefer Rhysand to Tamlin. Tamlin comes off to me as too spineless. Even though Rhysand was technically one of the baddies in Book 1, I felt he was the only one trying to find a solution and actually help. I just got the remaining books from my library, so we will see how it goes.
If you have other fairytale retellings you would recommend, please drop them in the comments below.