Welcome to Zombay, a town full of mystery, magic and make-believe. Once upon a time, Rownie lived there with his mother and his older brother. But his mother drowned in the town's vast River; and then his brother vanished; so now Rownie runs through Zombay's riddlesome streets orphaned and all alone . . . alone except for Graba, the coddle-headed, chicken-legged witch who offers him shelter along with the other stray children she has collected - her Grubs.
Rownie suspects that his brother's love of acting - which is severely outlawed in Zombay - led to his disappearance; so when Rownie encounters a theatrical troupe of goblins daring to perform a play for the townspeople (with masks and stage-tricks and everything!) he wonders whether they might hold the key to discovering what happened to his brother . . . and perhaps even help him find him again.
Thus opens a dazzling heroic adventure - of immense love, loss and all-conquering courage - in which one boy's quest for the truth, leads him to learn his greatest power may lie in his mighty and boundless imagination . . .
William Alexander studied theatre and folklore at Oberlin College and English at the University of Vermont. He currently lives, writes, and teaches in Minneapolis, Minnesota. His short stories have been published in many magazines and anthologies. Goblin Secrets is his first novel. Visit him at WillAlex.net or on Twitter @williealex.
It was hard to stop reading Goblin Secrets, and I didn't want the book to end! The author's imagination is both huge and original, taking us to a truly new place, rich with lively, vivid scenes, fascinating people, and marvelous inventions. He doesn't explain things, yet everything is clear. And he tells his fast-paced story in language that's a pleasure in itself -- subtle, tricky, funny, beautiful. More, please, Will Alexander!
Ursula K. Le Guin, author of The Wizard of Earthsea
Goblin Secrets is a knockout. It's an original.
Peter S. Beagle, author of The Last Unicorn
William Alexander is a wonderful talent whose breadth of vision and sense of theatricality, sly wit, and wicked whimsy have charmed and enthralled me since I first set eyes on his work.
Catherynne M. Valente
There are books that make you feel good for having read them. Not virtuous or well-behaved, but good. More whole-hearted, more brave, more likely to look at a stranger and see the fine face beneath the mask of their unfamiliarity. Goblin Secrets, William Alexander's debut novel, is just such a book... It is also unusual, unsettling, and written with a very spirited grace.
Alexander has an intriguing central theme, in which masks and theater create actual magic, set in the magical, steampunk-inflected land of Zombay.
Funny, smart, and gorgeously written. When I grow up, I want to be Will.
Jane Yolen, author of the Pit Dragon Chronicles
William Alexander organizes his atmospheric first novel into acts and scenes, rather than chapters, and he couches it in the beautifully elliptical language of the old fairy tales.
Rownie's search for his brother turns into an unlikely heroic quest . . . Highly textured, tightly woven and reassuringly seamless. Rownie's triumph is both gripping and tantalizing.
Kirkus Reviews, *STAR