Monday, January 14, 2013

Review - For the Love of a Goblin Warrior

For the Love of a Goblin Warrior
Shona Husk
Sourcebooks, Casablanca
January 2013

For 2000 years, Meryn has been under a curse that turned him into a goblin warrior. But then, miraculously, the curse has been broken. Now Meryn is a 2000 year old Celtic warrior caught up in the modern era and trying to deal with the crushing weight of grief he feels from the loss of his wife and children. An accidental meeting with Nadine Gilbert somehow eases some of that weight and he finds himself unconsciously seeking her out.

Nadine has her own emotional baggage.  When she was a small child, her father was convicted of murdering her mother even though there was scant evidence to prove his guilt. But Nadine, raised in foster homes, can't bring herself to love anyone. Her nightmares remind her of things better left forgotten.

Meryn's sudden reappearance in the world of men is as confusing and frightening to him as it would be to any wild thing. At first, he continues to act as a goblin would - desiring gold above all else - but as he realizes he's no longer a goblin, his drive to gather gold lessens. But not before he steals the gold cross necklace of the hospital nurse, Nadine, who tries to help him. Even though the necklace is gold, it does less to remind him of his goblinhood than it does of the lovely nurse he took it from.

Meryn escapes from the hospital and takes up residence in a wooded park. He continues to dream about his goblin past and his human past and struggles to make sense of this new world and his place in it. When he's approached by Dai (Kiss of the Goblin Prince) offering him a place to live and help getting acclimated, he's at first too proud to take what he feels is charity. But each time he sees Nadine, he wants to be more human and less goblin. His theft of her necklace gnaws at him, especially when he realizes how much she misses it.

Nadine dreams of a castle garden, a lovely peaceful place of contentment…until a vague sense of danger begins to eat at the edges of her dream. The dream gets worse and worse until goblins breach the garden walls and invade the castle and Nadine wakes screaming and clutching her sheets. As she jogs through the park, her nightmare comes to life when she's attacked. But a man, shabby and probably homeless, leaps out to beat her attackers off. He's vaguely familiar but Nadine can't place him. She finds him oddly attractive and finds herself drawn to him.

The call of goblinhood is much less when Meryn is around Nadine. She eases the impossible grief of losing his family and slowly makes him want to be fully human again. With Meryn, Nadine feels that the trust and sunshine-y love her parents had for each other could have been real. That's what she wants for herself but with so many shadows around Meryn, can she find it with him?

While there isn't a lot of magic in the story, there is magic in the way Shona Husk brings these characters together. This is a tremendous character study of two damaged people who learn to open themselves up to love and relationships. Neither character instantly falls in love. Instead, they do a kind of dance, coming together then stepping apart. Neither character forgets his or her past either. Meryn doesn't abandon his deceased family the minute Nadine walks onto the stage but comes to terms with their death and his continued life. Likewise, Nadine finally bridges her past so that she can love. The way the author brings the two together and shows their emotional growth is just short of poetic. For the Love of a Goblin Warrior is heartbreaking and heartwarming all at once. It and the other books in the series beg to be read.

I definitely recommend For the Love of a Goblin Warrior

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