the forest beckons the Shadow watches Nolin doesn’t know why her mother is terrified of the forest— only that is has somet...

Review of The Goblin's Daughter

the forest beckons

the Shadow watches

Nolin doesn’t know why her mother is terrified of the forest— only that is has something to do with her, a cold night, a baby crib, and an open window.
Throughout her life, Nolin struggles to gain the love of her crazed mother, all while grappling with recurring dreams of a twisted, ancient tree, and the perpetual feeling that she’s being watched by a dark presence in the surrounding forest.

After a childhood mental breakdown, Nolin returns to her hometown as a grown woman, ready to face her mother to put old demons to rest. When Nolin stumbles across disturbing details of her mother’s past, she ventures deeper into the mystery of her own identity, the related causes of her mother’s illness, and learns of violent, ancient creatures who live in the woods. . .

It's rare that a book is so captivating that I finish it in one day, but that's exactly what I did with The Goblin's Daughter.  I finished the last page and immediately wanted to go back in time so that I could read it anew again.

The story begins with Nolin's mother, Melissa. Even with Nolin as an infant, Melissa is obviously not well suited to motherhood. Melissa doesn't feel connected to her colicky child. She's exhausted and overwhelmed, with a husband who she is also disconnected from. Then something happens and she finds the nursery window open, with a contented happy child lying in the crib, covered in dirt and missing a shoe. 

We then find ourselves propelled forward to experience Nolin's childhood.  Between her mother's mental illness, self-imposed isolation, and repeated rejections, and her father's cursory affection, she's barely existing. She feels responsible for her mother's illness and her father is sleepwalking through life himself. What kind of father tells his young child that he doesn't know if she's responsible for her mother being sick? She's trying to be an adult in many ways, taking care of them both. 

She gets bullied for being different and thus constantly acting out at school, she's a bright, intelligent child who simply doesn't belong... anywhere. She feels like an outsider in her own life. 
Too often, she felt like the boy in his wolf suit, an animal among humans. If only she could crawl inside those pages and find her place with the monsters.
She knows that she is different and searches for understanding of who, or what she is.

The only bright spot for Nolin is meeting Drew. He accepts Nolin at face value and they become friends in spite of herself. 

One day, after yet another round with the school bully, Nolin runs into the forest to escape and then... just forgets herself. 

Ten years pass by again, and we find Nolan as a young adult, returning home to her mother, still feeling that urge to make sure she's taking care of herself. Only this time, the forest has been watching and waiting for Nolin to remember. 

I loved the characters in The Goblin's Daughter. You just feel so strongly for Nolin. She's so relatable. What person hasn't felt as if they don't belong at some point in their lives?  I adored Drew. As a child, or as an adult, he was just stalwart and steadfast and accepting. Everyone needs a Drew in their lives. Her parents, of course, you feel both pity, for they are trapped in the hell of their own lives, and frustration for their treatment of their daughter. You want to just snatch her up and show her the love that she's missing in her life. Add in the dark forest and the Shadow that watches from beneath the trees and you have a dark and twisty tale.

The ending is complex and yet staggeringly beautiful. You won't be prepared for the answer to the question: Who is the Goblin's Daughter?

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5 Paws Up!

About the Author

Hi there!
I’ve been writing stories since I could hold a pen. I used to stay in from recess to write or help the librarian reshelve books.
When I’m not writing fiction, I love to make art, travel, hula hoop, and go on reeeeeaaally long walks. Trust me, there’s nothing like a good walk for getting the ideas moving.
I live in Salt Lake City, Utah, with my husband, Sam, and cat, Louka.

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