Dear fellow Babblers,
As several of you well know by now I am a Young Adult Fantasy Fangirl (wow, talk about a mouthful, huh!?). I recently had the opportunity to read and review an ARC copy of The Goblins of Bellwater (full review here). With a rating of a 4.5 stars I was left wanting more from this author. I was curious how Ringle fused fantasy with realism so fluidly in her novel. What amazed me about this read was not the plot and dialogue, both of which were wonderful in there own right, but not what I’m getting at. The dramatically vivid illustration of the fantasy world where goblins lurk and control the human conscious, and conversely, the human world where everyday young adults fall in love and siblings look after one another, is really what caught me reading this book. In my experience as a book blogger and reviewer, and avid YA fangirl, I have rarely come across a work of literature that is realistic and enchanting, managing to be both in less than three hundred pages.
I often weigh writing style and the author’s ability to represent their story world over the story itself. I remain faithful to this logic when I make the claim that The Goblins of Bellwater is a masterfully produced book. Reading this book, I found myself at times in a dream and other times pushed back into reality. This is a tricky task as fantasy and reality contradict each other and usually will not overlap. This book shows the possibility of the merging of worlds which, in essence, what we, as readers do all the time – read to enter a fictional universe.
I had the opportunity to share my thoughts with the author herself (my heart is still swooning over the fact that I really got to contact her!!!) about the inspiration alive behind her writing. I write “alive” because, if her writing really does come to life in this book from the erotic relations between Skye and Grady to the mind blowing power the goblins have over Skye’s mind. Ringle has graciously provided me, and all of us, who really value writing, with what renders fantasy for her, realistic…
Read on for this beautiful guest post provided by the author of the stunning new Young Adult book, The Goblins of Bellwater, to be published by Central Avenue Publishing October 1, 2017. Many thanks to NetGalley and Central Avenue Publishing for providing me with an ARC copy of The Goblins of Bellwater, and giving me the opportunity to read and review it.
Many thanks to Molly Ringle for this phenomenal guest post and providing us with this stunning book, by far, the most realistic fantasy I’ve read all year.
What do you like better when it comes to reading stories of magic and the paranormal: our world with a magical twist, or a completely different imaginary world? As book genre labels go, this comes down to “urban fantasy” vs. “high fantasy,” and as a reader, I’m happy with either myself. But as a writer, so far I’ve always chosen the “our world with a twist” option—urban fantasy, paranormal romance, supernatural fiction, or whatever your sub-genre label of choice happens to be.
This is the road taken by some super-popular series, e.g., Harry Potter, Twilight, the Raven Cycle, and more. Unlike high fantasy such as Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones, in which we have to learn an entirely new universe, with urban fantasy we get to stay in our own society, more or less. The twist is that something supernatural is happening in them.
I suppose one reason I tend to pick this option is that it’s easier to write our world with magical modifications than it is to create a new map, a new history, a new set of languages, a new culture, etc. (Although that could be fun!) Also, I love the idea that just down that forest path, or just at the bottom of those hidden stairs, or just inside that mysterious building, there’s something magic we didn’t know about before. Those are the types of stories that hooked me as a kid, and I keep coming back around to that style when putting together my own paranormal tales.
In my newest release, The Goblins of Bellwater, I started with the unsettling, evocative poem “Goblin Market” by Christina Rossetti, in which a pair of young women are affected by a curse put upon one of them by the goblins who matter-of-factly are known to live in the woods nearby. If I were to bring this story into the modern day, I wondered, how would our society, with its scientific knowledge and its cell phones, fit itself around the idea of goblins and fae and dangerous spells?
My assumption was that we’d be completely skeptical of the notion that such things even exist. So that’s the main roadblock that exists for the people in the fictional small town of Bellwater, Washington: though a few of them have met the goblins and know of their existence, they know they’d sound crazy if they told anyone. Thus they suffer along in silence, at least until the point when something has to be said because there’s no other explanation for what’s going on.
In the poem, the goblin spell affects desires, making one of the sisters languish, pining away for another taste of goblin fruit, and Rossetti includes a lot of suggestive imagery about eating the fruit that has been interpreted as sexual by, well, nearly everyone who’s ever read the poem, including me. I therefore gave an attraction-spell component to the curse, drawing two of the human residents of the town together in mutual lust, though they both know it’s unnatural and unlike themselves. In a modern world where dating should include honesty and open communication, this would be a complication for sure, and indeed it makes these relationships more problematic and bizarre than traditionally romantic. (Though I like to think that the eventual honesty found by the characters, along with what they go through together, does lead to believable love.) Not everyone who reads the story is comfortable with this odd style of relationship. But for those of us who are intrigued by the long-standing mythological plot device of attraction spells—Shakespeare uses them in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, as another example—it’s at least juicy. No fruit pun intended.
My most skeptical main character, Livy, is a Forest Service scientist, so it takes her a long time to accept the notion of fae creatures living in her local forest. But ultimately she can fit it into her mindset, because the balance of life as guarded by the fae nature-spirits can be viewed as an extension of the balance required for a thriving ecology. The health of the environment requires the health of all the organisms—and spirits—who live there, and the fae have always known this, even if we humans sometimes forget.
Spirit meets science; modern love meets primal attraction; Forest Service road meets mysterious mushroom path: it’s the kind of mix I like. Someone who recently read The Goblins of Bellwater called this style “mod and myth,” which is a label I love and which I think sums it up well. It’s what I do and what I’ll probably keep doing in many books to come!