Rownie, the youngest in Graba the witchworker's household of stray children, escapes and goes looking for his missing brother. Along the way he falls in with a troupe of theatrical goblins and learns the secret origins of masks. Now Graba's birds are hunting him in the Southside of Zombay, the Lord Mayor's guards are searching for him in Northside, and the River between them is getting angry. The city needs saving — and only the goblins know how.
Goblin Secrets is the 2012 National Book Award Winner for Young People's Literature.
Goblin Secrets by William Alexander
Margaret K. McElderry Books
Hardcover, 240 pages
Grades 3-7 / Ages 8-12
List price: $16.99
With a sure hand, William Alexander here creates a wholly convincing world of mechanized soldiers, chicken-legged grandmothers, sentient rivers, and goblin actors. In that uncertain landscape, young Rownie learns the mysterious craft of masking to search for both his brother and his own story, unaware that the solution to these searches may be the salvation of his city. Alexander's world is one of possessiveness—and true love—brilliantly revealing our own selves by holding up our masks.
"It was hard to stop reading Goblin Secrets, and I didn't want the book to end! The author's imagination is both huge and original, taking us to a truly new place, rich with lively, vivid scenes, fascinating people, and marvelous inventions. He doesn't explain things, yet everything is clear. And he tells his fast-paced story in language that's a pleasure in itself -- subtle, tricky, funny, beautiful. More, please, Will Alexander!"
"Goblin Secrets is a knockout. It's an original, owing absolutely nothing to Tolkien, or to any of his descendants, disciples or imitators. As a lifelong sucker for theatre and books about theatre, I don't know a fantasy novel that's used performing and maskmaking in just that way."
"Alexander’s world, blending steampunk and witchy magic, is impressively convincing and evocative in its oddities. Though highly textured, it’s tightly woven and reassuringly seamless. The result is wryly humorous and bearably yet excitingly menacing: Even while much is left unexplained, Rownie’s triumph is both gripping and tantalizing."