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Book review: Goblin by Ever Dundas

Goblin - Ever Dundas Published by: Freight Books

'The Second World War wasn't that long ago, Ben.'

'It feels it. It sure feels it.'

'Can you feel time:'

"I feel it in ma bones.'

Goblin is the kind of quirky, slightly odd story with twists and turn and lots of threads, that I enjoy reading. Set in London and branching out to other parts of England and into Europe, the story recaptures the life of a woman forced to come to terms with her past. Goblin is the name of the lead character, not her birth name, but the name that she grew up with and certainly the name that shaped her personality, head space, indeed, her entire life. She is a queer, free spirit, compassionate, self-sustainable character who doesn’t need anyone yet brings people into her life, drawn like a moth to her light. Not that her light is particularly likeable on the surface distorted as it is by early dysfunction - her mother can’t stand her (and is the source of the nickname “ugly blue Goblin”), her father loves her but is in his own world and disappears from the scene early, and the family unit is severely affected by WWII and the London bombings.

Goblin also has a brother, David, who she adores, and who looks out for her, but goes off to sea when she is nine and leaves her behind even though they had a pact to go together. David’s departure becomes the catalyst for the rest of her life as she searches for him in every town and city she travels to.

The story starts when Goblin is older and working in a library as a Reader’s Assistant. People take their book lists or research queries to her and she finds and recommends books for them. Her life is travelling along fairly quiet and uneventful. To her customers she is an old lady who knows a lot about books. a story in the newspaper about an unusual find dug up at an old cemetery throws her back into her past starting from the age of nine, the year her brother David left, and the British Pet Massacre.

Goblin’s life is revealed, past and current, and we learn that she may be a quiet old lady now, but her life to that point was full of adventure and bravery, great sadness and great happiness, threaded through with her search for David and a child’s imaginative and creative efforts to explain her world.

Goblin is an extraordinary character in an extraordinary story and I recommend the novel to you.

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