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Reviewed by Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers' Favorite
What would you do if an uncle you never met, or at least you don’t remember meeting him, suddenly died and left you an incredible mansion full of fascinating and mysterious objects, hidden staircases and an abundance of rooms to explore? For eleven-year-old Danzellan Wildwood Hallow (or, as he prefers to be called, Danny), it’s like living in a fantasy home like the ones in the horror movies he loves to watch. But there are many secrets hidden in the house, secrets that involve the young boy and his heritage. His Keepers - that’s what he calls his Guardians, since his parents are long gone - have managed to keep the boy safe. Until now.
Alex Norton’s young people’s fantasy novel, The Goblin’s Winter: Witchbone Book One, has all the makings of an original Grimm’s fairy tale: magic, goblins, good and evil, an exciting plot complete with battle scenes and just enough bloodshed and gore to entice the young reader into the story. The list of characters certainly includes a number of unlikely heroes: Danny, the misfit at his old school; Ezra, the dirty, untrustworthy, shifty boy; Ellie, a sweet girl whose connection is vague until closer to the end; Church, short for Churchill, a skinny boy with freckles; and Unwen, a dark-skinned girl with a lot of courage. It seems unlikely for these five to come together, all being subjugated to scorn and ridicule for one reason or another. But they do. And what adventures they have.
Like any good, classic fairy tale, the plot unravels slowly, with the introduction of the scene - a bitterly cold winter in New Hampshire - and the characters. The mysteries and the secrets are revealed as needed, adding to the suspense and excitement of the plot. Although the story revolves mainly around the five children, there are a multitude of others that affect and challenge not only their existence but their right to be together. This is a powerful story, only the beginning of a series that will unravel more of the mysteries and secrets surrounding these children. A great read!