Summerbook #7: Goblin

 Goblin, by Josh Malerman

Josh Malerman wrote Bird Box, which I think was made into a movie a few years back.  I've never read him before, or seen the movie.  The description of Goblin intrigued me, and I always love a good hedge maze (as on the cover), so I took it home for the summer.

This is 'a novel in six novellas.'  There are six stories set in the town of Goblin, plus a prologue and epilogue that kind of tie the whole thing together.  Goblin is a strange town, and kind of apart from the rest of the world; it's situated next to woods that are legendarily spooky and inhabited by the Great Owls, it gets more rain than anywhere else in the world, and the police are the spookiest thing of all.  The original settlers all ran away, and it was years before anybody was foolhardy enough to try to settle it again.  The six stories all culminate in one dark and stormy night....

  • Richard has spent much of his life being Charles' friend; Charles needs him and doesn't really have other friends.  And then Charles falls in love, and he needs Richard more than ever.   
  • Walter Kamp was a perfectly average nice guy, until he realized that he was doomed to be scared to death.  Now he exists in a state of eternal vigilance. 
  • Neal Nash prides himself on being the greatest hunter in town, and for his birthday he's throwing a truly enormous party.  There's one more thing he's always wanted.... 
  • Pete is a kid who loves magic shows, and his all-time most admired magician is coming to Goblin to do a show.  Roman Emperor can do things nobody else can do, and Pete's going to see it live. 
  • Dirk Rogers is a beloved tour guide at the zoo, but inside he longs to free himself. 
  • And finally, Wayne is Goblin's best-known artist, carving bushes into topiaries all over town.  His biggest accomplishment is the Hedges, an unsolvable hedge maze, but 11-year-old Margot is a smart kid and she has just solved the maze.  And she's going to tell the police what he's got hidden in there....

The stories are mostly fine; I didn't care much for the zoo one or the hunting one, and I liked the one about the hedge maze best.  The magic show one was good too.  I must say, as a whole it didn't really work for me.  It was fine, but it wasn't great or amazing.  I can't help thinking that Goblin is not a great name for a town, even if it's a haunted town.  It seems kind of obvious.  So, I guess my verdict is .... meh.


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