Book Review: Goblins of Bellwater by Molly Ringle

***This book was reviewed for Central Ave Publishing via Netgalley

The Goblins of Bellwater is a bewitching tale of curses, enchantment, and the power of the unseen. In the woods around Bellwater, Washington, a tribe of mischievous goblins dwell. So long as their human liaison, Kit, brings them a tithing of gold each month, they will (mostly) behave. But if the tithe is late…

Skye is caught by the goblins one evening, after Kit is short with his monthly allotment. Forced to eat of goblin food, she is destined to grow more withdrawn from human society, eventually returning to the forest to choose a mate and join the goblin tribe as their newest member. Skye cannot speak of her trauma, thanks to the goblins’ curse. In a desperate attempt to thumb her nose at the goblins, she chooses as a mate one most unexpected. That choice may just be the key to her salvation.

I enjoyed the amoral nature of the goblins. They didn’t strike me as truly evil, even when malicious. They simply lived out the dictates of their species. It was interesting that, despite a sexual nature, goblins increased the tribe by transforming people. There didn’t seem to be baby goblins.

These goblins are an ‘invasive species’ not native to the state, nor even the continent. They followed Kit’s ancestor to North America. The local faefolk of Washington do not like these interlopers, who are so like the humans that desecrate the area with trash, but they are constrained by laws of magick that limit how and when they can intercede. Skye’s curse opens the ideal opportunity, but are her sister Livy, and the liaison Kit up to facing the goblins?

I loved that the nature spirits of the Americas are called fae too. That’s how I’ve always treated mythic beings of any culture that do not fit another specific category, like ‘dragons’ or ‘vampires’. There are behaviours and traits that sing ‘fae’ no matter the continent.

I enjoyed that much of this story involved Skye and Grady struggling with themselves. To be cursed and unable to speak of it as you fight against changes to turn into a goblin, I could feel their terror and frustration. And the bitter pill Kit must swallow serving the goblin tribe against his will.

There is a strong elemental theme running through the novel. The four base elements of alchemy and magick- Earth, Air, Fire, and Water. Quintessence, the fifth element of Spirit, is never directly mentioned, but I saw it in the transformation of Skye and Grady back to humans, and the goblins to other fae. Livy must travel through the elemental realms to reach the goblin village, allowing the fae to follow behind her. She traversed the paths, progressing through her own internal transformation, and paving the way for the transformation of the others.

I didn’t see the goblins as ‘evil’. More that they simply lived the dictates of their species. I really liked them, truth be told. They are completely honest in what they are. I found them rather refreshing.

I can’t rave about the cover enough, either! It’s beautiful in its simplicity. The cover is what drew me in first, prompting me to read the blurb.


Leave a Reply