Imelda & the Goblin King
Briony May Smith
Flying Eye Books
Imelda lives next to a wood, but this wood is a magical one populated by fairy folk and their fairy queen. It’s a place of peace and harmony and Imelda loves to spend her days frolicking with, and learning from, the fairy folk.
Then one day into this life of tranquility bursts a foul-tempered Goblin King and his green goblin horde. His manners are appalling, despite the fairy queen’s best efforts …
and he has the effrontery, after gobbling up the whole solstice feast, to seize his host and imprison her in a cage.
The other fairies call upon Imelda’s help and together they cook up a clever plan that offers the greedy goblin king one final chance …
The happily ever after finale isn’t quite the one you might expect, or perhaps it is, given that pretty much everything about this cracking book is delightfully idiosyncratic, not least the manner in which the anti-hero becomes the agent of his own downfall,
an outcome which had my young audiences cheering in appreciation.
What a dazzling cast of characters: Imelda, the heroine, is an unflappable young miss, the epitome of all that’s good but still not afraid to turn her hand to a spot of subtle trickery to further a worthy cause; the Fairy Queen with her rosy cheeks and flowing golden hair certainly isn’t always as soft and sweet as she looks …
and as for that Goblin King, he’s a pretty terrifying-looking bullying beast unlikely to worm his way into anyone’s affections.
And every single fairy has its own distinctive appearance – there’s even a blue one that looks like a mini Martian and the goblins, they pretty much resemble their king though they look a lot less threatening at least some of the time. Add to all those, a scattering of dragonflies, butterflies, birds, and other creatures and you have a veritable visual fest.
With a compelling narrative that doesn’t pander to whimsy and has just a tiny frisson of fear, this enchanting book is like nothing else I’ve encountered in the fairy tale genre of late.