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The Goblin Wood    by Hilari Bell order for
Goblin Wood
by Hilari Bell
Order:  USA  Can
Eos, 2003 (2003)
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Though young hedgewitch Makenna is the nominal heroine of The Goblin Wood, it's the 'thin as a scarecrow, two and a half feet tall' goblins who repeatedly steal the show. We don't meet them right away. First we share young Makenna's fury as her hedgewitch mother is drowned by villagers, for whom she has done only good over many years. Makenna escapes with a sack of spell books, flooding the village fields as she exits stage left.

She doesn't know much about goblins at first, but quickly finds out after they chase her and sneakily and repeatedly steal her food and belongings. When she traps Cogswhallop and then frees him, he owes her a life debt and has to help her - a matter of balance which rules goblin lives. Then she meets a tinker who explains that, because of barbarian invasion from the south, the Hierarch that rules her land has passed a 'Decree of Bright Magic', which essentially says that hedgewitches and goblins are evil and to be exterminated. Soon afterwards, Makenna rescues Cogswhallop's beloved Natter and others, declares that she's 'never going back to humankind' and becomes the goblins' General. She fights a successful guerilla war for five years.

Tobin, heir of a noble family, is disgraced after he saves his rebel brother Jeri from death. The fanatical Master Lazur gives Tobin the opportunity to redeem himself by capturing the 'powerful sorceress in the northern woods' and helping to eliminate the vast horde of goblins that she has supposedly enslaved. He agrees but, after being captured by the goblins, discovers that things are not exactly as they were represented to him. Events unfold until the goblins' only chance is to escape to the 'Otherworld'. Tobin is caught between duty and love, and Makenna remembers her mother's teachings and rejects fanaticism.

The Goblin Wood is great fun, and its ending shows promise of a sequel, with more adventures of the conniving Cogswhallop and his human and goblin friends. Look forward to it!

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