Robert Hewitt Wolfe's THE GOBLIN CROWN, the first in his
series called Billy Smith and the Goblins, rises to the top
of the list of young adult novels I've read this year. A
number of things set this adventure tale apart from others
including a diverse cast and multiple well-done points of
Billy Smith has always felt like an outsider. He's half
African American and half Irish, but that tells only part
of the story; something has always made him feel different.
The first day at a new school proves no exception. Filled
with embarrassments including an encounter after school
that leaves Billy and new friend, Lexi, running from Kurt,
the quarterback of the football team. But then they end up
in the land of goblins.
The goblins have been fighting a war, and General Sawtooth
wants to continue it. Prophecy says that a goblin king will
come in goblins' greatest need, and when the light pulses
on the crown saying the king has arrived, Sawtooth takes
the opportunity to crown himself. But Hop, a timid and
smart goblin has other plans. He wants to find the new king
and put things to right.
Wolfe tells the story from numerous points of view, so
we're introduced to Billy and his pals, but also
indoctrinated into goblin society complete with language
and cultural references including song lyrics and a
glossary at the back of the book for reference. The book
contains some violence which won't be appropriate for very
young readers, but for the most part, it's a story to be
enjoyed by young and older adults alike. Wolfe deftly
incorporates lessons of acceptance, forgiveness and
diversity in this adventure, but not in any kind of preachy
way. It's good rollicking fun infused with life teachings
that won't hurt any of us to read again and again. I look
forward to the next book in this series. It's clear that
Wolfe can make the transition from screen to page with ease.
Billy Smith is having a rough first day of high school. The
new kid at exclusive Francis Drake Prep, Billy embarrasses
himself in front of fiery, beautiful Lexi Aquino. He makes
an instant enemy in Kurt Novac, the school’s surly star
quarterback. Then suddenly Billy, Lexi, and Kurt are
mysteriously transported to an underworld teeming with
goblins, strange animal hybrids, and powerful magic—the fact
that they’re stuck there is probably Billy’s fault, too.
With help from an unlikely goblin leader named Hop, the
teens soon discover that goblins can be both fierce and
friendly, with their own rich language, culture, and
history—a history that foretells of a human arriving to
claim the Goblin Crown and lead them to victory against the
deadly, invading Hanorians.
Could Billy—anxious, awkward
Billy—be the mythical Goblin King? Could saving the goblin
race be his destiny and the key to getting him, Lexi, and
Kurt back home?