I received a free copy of this in exchange for an honest review. All views and opinions are my own.
Gribblebob’s Book of Unpleasant Goblins by David Ashby, cover art by to be added
I hadn’t even heard of this before I was sent it, but I very much enjoyed it.
Anna and her little brother Nils meet a strange man on their way home one afternoon, triggering a series of unbelievable events involving magic books and a school librarian who is more than she seems, brilliantly depicted enemies, a large sword and a worthy hero, a semi-invisible dog and ginger biscuits.
It’s a quick read, with very short chapters, making it ideal for less confident/enthusiastic readers to ‘dip their toes in’ without having to read something aimed at a younger audience too. On the flipside, it would also be great for younger, confident readers ready to move on a bit but not quite ready to take on the usual length MG books.
It ticks a lot of MG fantasy adventure boxes while remaining wholly original with some very unique world-building and a brilliant cast of characters, who really make the story come alive.
One of our good guys, Bengt, helps the overcoming-the-bullies, developing courage, making friends and showing heart storyline play out and will I’m sure be a favourite to many – if you liked Rumblestar’s Casper Tock, you’ll get right behind Bengt too!
Anna and Nils are a lovely sibling duo, with just the right balance of annoying each other and loyalty! Nils especially brings a great deal of humour to the book with his younger, more naive viewpoints, and Anna’s fierce protection of him sees her well-placed as the story’s takes-no-messin’-heroine!
We have a slice of charm and served up in the form of not entirely trustworthy, but dashing and daring Will, who is well-paired with rule-following, all round good guy Jack.
Gribblebob himself is fantastically written and probably my favourite of the characters. Crotchety and short, with some outstanding word play and use of language (something inherent throughout the book – Timberton Woods anyone?!) he feels like he’s straight out of Carroll’s Wonderland!
The dark, sinister and downright bad characters and creatures are equally well-written – imaginatively different and just the right amount of scary!
In a quest that’s over before tea-time, David Ashby has packed a lot into very little – no mean feat – and this makes for a thoroughly enjoyable, very funny and warm-hearted fantasy adventure that’s primed for a follow up (which I very much hope is on the cards!).