Publisher: Entangled Publishing LLC
Publishing Date: November 13, 2012
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Source: Itching for Books Blog Tour
While trying to save her brother from a witch’s fire four years ago, Greta was thrown in herself, falling through a portal to Mylena, a dangerous world where humans are the enemy and every ogre, ghoul, and goblin has a dark side that comes out with the eclipse.
To survive, Greta has hidden her humanity and taken the job of bounty hunter—and she’s good at what she does. So good, she’s caught the attention of Mylena’s young goblin king, the darkly enticing Isaac, who invades her dreams and undermines her will to escape.
But Greta’s not the only one looking to get out of Mylena. An ancient evil knows she’s the key to opening the portal, and with the next eclipse mere days away, every bloodthirsty creature in the realm is after her—including Isaac. If Greta fails, she and the lost boys of Mylena will die. If she succeeds, no world will be safe from what follows her back…
This was an odd book to read because it kept surprising me. From the beginning, when I looked at the cover, then opened the first page and started reading, Greta and the Goblin King never went where I expected a typical author to take it. For the most part, I was enthralled.
When she was a young teen, Greta was drawn to a strange fire and pulled into it by a witch, to emerge on the other side into an alternate world called Mylena, populated by ghouls, goblins, sprites and other creatures. Greta would have died in the freezing wilderness where she’d ended up if she hadn’t been found by Lucius, a wood sprite that took her in and ruthlessly trained her to become fighter and bounty hunter like him. She’s had to hide that she’s human – the unforgiving climate is blamed by everyone on the arrival of humans in Mylena and the consensus is that the two suns won’t warm the land again until the last of them are dead.
None of that information is given in the beginning and part of it doesn’t come out for a bit, even. It’s part of the way that the story’s told that made it feel so different for me. It was the complete opposite of infodump – infoparse? For a while, I even thought that Greta was friendly with the goblins because of some things she was doing.
One of those goblins is the King himself, Isaac. Apparently they’ve come across each other earlier. I say apparently because that’s something that happened before the book even started and while there are some references to it, that’s it. By saying his name, Greta has given him permission to appear in her dreams, something he likes to do, and there’s a little attraction between the two of them. She’s terrified that he’ll find out she’s human, he can’t figure out what’s wrong with her and why she pushes him away all of the time. They really don’t have a lot of page time physically together so their relationship was always hard for me to get a feel for.
When the story opens, Greta is looking for a goblin boy who was kidnapped by a ghoul. Isaac shows up to protect her which drives her nuts. After she’s injured, Isaac finds out what she is and when she reaches home, they find Lucius near death, a victim of an attack. His last words warn her that she’s being hunted, which is no surprise and seems barely troubling to Isaac. He has enough feeling for her to try to stop her when she decides to set off looking for Lucius’ killer, who may also be the one who can fix Mylena’s endless winter. Nothing’s going to stop Greta though, and she embarks on a dangerous, deadly journey through the Woods.
The story is much darker than the cover led me to believe. It wasn’t over the top, but there’s violence, blood, death and serious injury here. I was impressed that Jacobs allowed Greta to be scarred and hurt and emotionally burned out. There wasn’t a miracle healing potion that she could take that would keep her body all pretty and unmarred and I loved that Greta had come to peace with it.
While she may have remorse about it once in a while, make no mistake, Greta is a killer. She was trained by Lucius to be the best fighter, to accept pain and push herself. There’s nothing very girly about her – I got more of a feeling of what she would look like than an actual picture because words about her hair or body wouldn’t be enough to describe Greta. I loved that as the story went on and after she found the group of human boys, she started to lose some of her brittle shell and remembered what it was like to actually have lived someplace else. Having the two Gretas come together was very powerful.
I don’t think it’s a spoiler and I do think it’s important (because it made the story so much better and stronger) to note that the story is nearly halved into sections before Greta leaves and after she finds the lost human boys. Her time with them is moving, amazing, heartbreaking, uplifting, emotional – I’m thinking you get the point. Isaac is still around during her dreams, but this is about their quest to stay alive in a hostile place, find more of their kind and the man who killed Lucius. It’s complex and while there are joking references to Lord of the Flies, I could see it.
Maybe because they’re human and have just been forced to live by their wits, the older boys in the group are simple to understand. The leader Wyatt wears the mantle of responsibility for the group and somehow manages to control them. Grumpy Ray suffered a tragedy at the hands of the goblins and is bitter and reckless. The others follow and do their best to fill some sort of role in the group without sticking their necks out too far. It’s a sad little rag tag group, especially when you find that Greta’s the first girl they’ve seen in a long, long time.
It was frustratingly difficult to get a feel for Isaac. I wanted to like him so much. The words were there on the page telling me how much he wanted Greta, but there was something missing. I didn’t understand their dynamic, his past, their past or what his cryptic remarks about their future meant. Because so much else wasn’t what I thought it would be, I didn’t know what to expect their romance to be. This is something closer to an urban fantasy-level coupling than a PNR one, if that makes sense.
My Summary: I’m glad a darker, grittier story was just fine with me when I picked this up, because that’s what I got instead of a fluffy paranormal fantasy with a swoony romance. I’m glad this is going to be a series for a few reasons, one being that this felt a little unfinished – the ending was a little unsatisfying and there were some gaps in what I thought I needed to know about Mylena. I enjoyed this so much – Chloe Jacobs has found a new fan in me and while I hope the next book resolves some issues between Greta and Isaac, there are plenty of other interesting characters to pull out who should have great stories to tell.
My Dream Cast
So, I debated about going the route I did with my playlist last week and terrifying you with my knowledge of the 80s, but I decided to actually do a little thoughtful research for this one. I rarely watch network television so I don’t exactly have a list of names at my fingertips to draw from, but I think that was a good thing. I just set about searching for someone who had the face and attitude for the characters. I came up with who I think embodies Greta, Isaac, Wyatt, Ray and Siona (Isaac’s cousin and Greta’s friend) best. You’ll have to use your imagination for a couple of things though – they were almost always covered in dirt and someone’s blood and most of them had scars, scratches, bruises and had tangled and knotted hair. So, without further ado…my dream cast:
About the author
Chloe Jacobs is a native of nowhere and everywhere, having jumped around to practically every Province of Canada before finally settling in Ontario where she has now been living for a respectable number of years. Her husband and son are the two best people in the entire world, but they also make her wish she’d at least gotten a female cat. No such luck. And although the day job keeps her busy, she carves out as much time as possible to write. Bringing new characters to life and finding out what makes them tick and how badly she can make them suffer is one of her greatest pleasures, almost better than chocolate and fuzzy pink bunny slippers.