Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Goblin by Ever Dundas

Goblin by Ever Dundas
Published by Freight Books in May 2017.

Featured in Cover Characteristics: Dogs and WorldReads: Scotland

Where to buy this book:

How I got this book:
Received a review copy from the publisher via NetGalley

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A novel set between the past and present with magical realist elements. Goblin is an outcast girl growing up in London during World War 2. Having been rejected by her mother, she leads a feral life with a gang of young children amidst the craters of London's Blitz. After witnessing a shocking event she increasingly takes refuge in a self-constructed but magical imaginary world.
In 2011, a chance meeting and an unwanted phone call compels an elderly Goblin to return to London amidst the riots and face the ghosts of her past. Will she discover the truth buried deep in her fractured memory or retreat to the safety of near madness?
In Goblin, debut novelist Dundas has constructed an utterly beguiling historical tale with an unforgettable female protagonist at its centre.

Goblin is a macabre novel of abandonment and loss, unreliable memory and the fragility of the human mind. It jumps netween its two time periods, confusingly at first, as the elderly incarnation of Goblin attempts to unravel and understand the events in her childhood that drove her to the edge of insanity. She is a compelling character, all the more so as I began to understand her past tragedies, and her inventiveness meant I could never quite believe everything she told me. A child will believe in fantasy worlds of martians and lizard people, dolls coming to life and conversations with ghosts, but they usually grow out of it, leaving much of their imagination behind. Goblin wraps herself in her make believe world as her only protection from horrific reality leaving her readers trying to catch glimpses of the truth.

Dundas brilliantly evokes wartime London through a child's eyes. I loved seeing the city from that perspective and it is not just the photographs that are taken from a low angle. Buildings, ruins and people loom over Goblin wherever she goes. It took me longer to understand the elderly Goblin, especially as the early frequent jumps between time periods were confusing. However, once the story takes off, which it soon does, I could see how the child became this woman - and I so want her Reader In Residence job! Goblin is a poignantly sad tale of parental abandonment and neglect. Despite many of its main characters being children, this is not a kids story and I would hesitate to recommend it to a younger Young Adult audience either. That sad, this is not a depressing novel. Goblin's wicked humour is great fun and strong, believable relationships between characters brought me away from the grief of wartime. A surprising and surprisingly good debut novel.

Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Ever Dundas / Contemporary fiction / Books from Scotland

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