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The Hobgoblin Proxy: Clemency Pogue    by J. T. Petty & Will Davis order for
Hobgoblin Proxy
by J. T. Petty
Order:  USA  Can
Simon & Schuster, 2006 (2006)

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* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

The Hobgoblin Proxy follows Fairy Killer in the delightful Clemency Pogue series for young readers who enjoy the fantastic. In her first adventure, Clemency had to work very hard to undo the consequences of careless words (which exterminated good fairies as well as bad) and she 'earned the magical ability to transform into a bee.' Sadly, she's discovered that bees don't have anything interesting to say.

This time, hobgoblin Chaphesmeeso seeks Clemency's help to avert 'the total annihilation of Make-Believe existence.' Accompanying the hobgoblin is his apprentice Kennethurchin, who is part of the problem. You see, he's a stolen child and they need to find his clay changeling, Inky Mess, and extract Leviathan Ink (which will also allow the apprentice to become a full hobgoblin) before Inky learns human magic (reading) and makes all of Make-Believe 'go kaput'.

Clemency cooperates as she wants the Fairy of Very Sick Puppies to help cure her dying boxer puppy. This takes them to New York which is 'like an incalcuably complex clockwork contraption of incredibly coordinated chaos, yellow taxis, kamikaze pigeons, people moving and darting like brilliant fish, shouts, music, and the jangle of coins careening through a canyon of buildings that could have served as the ceremonial armor of stone giants.' (It's worth reading the book for this description alone!)

The Fairy of Long Goodnights has been enlisted to deal with the changeling, but Kennethurchin and Clemency worry about the clay boy. Clemency secretly locates him and takes an innovative approach to teaching him to read (with his eyes closed). But then everything goes awry in a hilarious climax that involves mistaken identity, a vat of vinegar pickles, a fight between siblings, and a very busy bumblebee.

And though Clemency wins the battle in The Hobgoblin Proxy, it looks like the war is still to come in a future episode involving 'amputated, reanimated dog tails' and, of course, Inky Mess. Clemency's tutoring will have unforeseen consequences as 'Reading had opened new worlds to him ... all of them ripe for conquering.'

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