The Goblin King by Shona Husk
Series: Shadowland #1
Once upon a time …
A man was cursed to the Shadowlands, his heart replaced with a cold lump of gold. In legends, he became known as the Goblin King.
For a favored few he will grant a wish. Yet, desperately clinging to his waning human soul, his own desire remains unfulfilled: a willing Queen.
But who would consent to move from the modern-day world into the realm of nightmares? No matter how intoxicating his touch, no matter how deep his valor, loving him is dangerous. And the one woman who might dare to try could also destroy him forever.
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When I started The Goblin King, I was sure it was going to be a DNF. I got through the first few chapters and was actually shaking my head because it was terrible. The goblin king story wasn’t explained very well, I just couldn’t engage with Eliza, since she comes into the book unconscious, and I wasn’t enjoying the narrative voice. But I decided to keep going since I’d never read anything by Shona Husk and I wanted to give The Goblin King a fair shot before deleting it off of my e-reader.
At first, I thought maybe the lack of understanding was entirely my fault, since I’m one of the dozen people in the world who haven’t seen Labyrinth and I didn’t review the synopsis before beginning, but I don’t think either of those factors should matter that much. I often start books without reviewing the synopsis right before, even when it’s a new author, because I think good writing should stand on its own. Plus, it helps me avoid spoilers. And ridiculous covers, which The Goblin King definitely has. I realize that the author has no control over it but this dude doesn’t look anything like Roan should (to start, he should have dreads with gold beads) and his sword, well, it looks like it’s supposed to be compensating for something. And I did finish The Goblin King so I know that’s not the reason he has such a crazy weapon.
After the rough start, though, The Goblin King did improve. Eliza woke up and there were some nice interactions between the two main characters. Eliza develops a backbone over the course of the novel, which was great, but what I was most interested in was Roan’s history. He was cursed by a Druid millennia ago and now lives a bleak life in the Shadowlands, trying to keep his soul and not turn goblin. He went to the Shadowlands with a group of men but most of them succumbed to their goblin-y urges, and he knows he’s not far behind. Every time he uses magic, it eats a part of his soul, but magic plays an important role in his ability to survive. It’s similar to other stories but he really came alive as The Goblin King progressed.
This is my first Shona Husk book and I’m glad I read it all the way through. The Goblin King won’t make any top ten lists for me but the book definitely improved as I went forward, to the point that I’d like to get the next Shadowlands book from my local library if they have it. The characters and world really grew on me, even if we had a slow and awkward start. I hope that my next foray into the Shadowlands world will start more smoothly so that I can better appreciate the effort that Husk puts into her work.