It's ok. I don't love it but I don't hate it.
Why I Wanted to Read This:
This wasn't even on my radar, then it won the National Book Award. I had to give it a try then! Here's the synopsis from GoodReads:
In the town of Zombay, there is a witch named Graba who has clockwork chicken legs and moves her house around—much like the fairy tale figure of Baba Yaga. Graba takes in stray children, and Rownie is the youngest boy in her household. Rownie’s only real relative is his older brother Rowan, who is an actor. But acting is outlawed in Zombay, and Rowan has disappeared.Romance?: No.
Desperate to find him, Rownie joins up with a troupe of goblins who skirt the law to put on plays. But their plays are not only for entertainment, and the masks they use are for more than make-believe. The goblins also want to find Rowan—because Rowan might be the only person who can save the town from being flooded by a mighty river.
This accessible, atmospheric fantasy takes a gentle look at love, loss, and family while delivering a fast-paced adventure that is sure to satisfy.
This book flew under the radar for me. I had not even heard about it until it until it was nominated for a National Book Award. When it won, I knew I had to read it. I find it fascinating when a middle grade book beats out young adult books to win! I have to say I have mixed feeling about this book.
One thing I can say about this book is that the world that Mr. Alexander has created is fascinating. And disturbing. I rooted for Rowan and enjoyed the goblin friends he met, but there were parts of this story I didn't quite follow. Because I didn't it makes me wonder if younger readers will. Or maybe they won't think on it too hard. The audience this book is intended for tends to take things at face value. I truly can't wait to have one of my students read this and get their thoughts.
Although I didn't love this as much as I had hoped, I am not turned off at all. The author is a great writer. There are phrases and scenes that stuck with me. A companion novel being released this spring that I will read. There were a lot of things happening in this town that I would like to know more about. I am sad it's a companion novel because there were things about Rowan and his new goblin friends that I would like to know more about.
To Sum Up: An interesting book and concept that I will be sharing with my students. Good introduction to fantasy/steampunk genre for younger readers.
Book bought for my middle school library.