on May 19, 2015 :
This book has been compared to Pratchett on various review sites. And I gotta say... yeah, they're right. It's not a send-up of Pratchett, or a pastiche, or anything so self-conscious. But the quirky turns of phrase, the characters that are drawn in broad strokes and still wind up feeling real and not caricatures, the world that sometimes goes just a little skew while people do their best to cope... And, yes, some grim and appalling situations that are handled dead-seriously by humorous characters...
Definitely comparable, and in all the good ways.
Other reviews are more detailed. Let me just be one of the greek chorus. It's good. It's not for (many or most) gradeschoolers. Buyyyyy eeeeeet.
(reviewed 2 years after purchase)
on July 5, 2014 :
The story starts off split between two sets of characters: Sergeant Nessilka and her goblin troops, and Sings-to-Trees and his various patients. Goblins have been at war with humans and elves for some time, mostly because they don't have much of a choice. When humans moved into goblin lands, the goblins, preferring to avoid conflict, moved out. Eventually, though, there were no other places they could move. A few disagreements and misunderstandings later, and the war began. The elves joined in as allies of the humans.
When Sergeant Nessilka and eight of her troops accidentally end up trapped behind enemy lines, her goal is to get everyone safely home. Although Sings-to-Trees is technically an enemy, he's a very unusual elf. He's more concerned with taking care of his animal patients than with the war, and he has fond memories of the goblins that used to live near his home. He might be able to help, but first he and the goblins have to deal with whatever is mysteriously emptying out nearby farmhouses and villages before it gets them too.
It took a while for the story to really get going. All the characters' paths didn't cross until about halfway through the novella. However, not once did I mentally start tapping my foot, waiting for something to happen. I was enjoying the characters, world, and writing too much for that.
The story's wry humor and quirky details reminded me a lot of Terry Pratchett's Discworld books. For example, on the one hand, Sings-to-Trees is a stereotypically gorgeous, nature-loving elf. On the other hand, when readers first meet him, he has his right arm up to the shoulder inside a pregnant unicorn's birth canal, is bruised from the contractions and being kicked by his ungrateful patient, and is splattered with unicorn crap. His home and his life were all arranged with his patients in mind, and his own people tended to steer clear of him, because they preferred nature that was clean and pretty.
Most of the goblins were fairly basic characters, with one identifying trait and not much else. Weasel stuttered and was good at catching small animals, Thumper was huge and liked thumping things (and people), Gloober always had his finger up his nose, etc. Taken as a group, they felt like a family. No nonsense, long-suffering Nessilka gave them direction and tried to keep them all together and safe. I liked Nessilka right away. Blanchett, who rarely spoke for himself and preferred to act as “interpreter” for his constant companion, a teddy bear, was another favorite of mine. His inability to function without his teddy bear was heartbreaking.
The ending was perhaps a little too light and fluffy, considering that there was still a war going on. However, after all that tension (creepy recently vacated farmhouse ::shudder::), all those bodies, and that tragically messed up “villain,” I appreciated it. I very much hope that the author plans to write more stories (or even novels?) set in this world. More exhausted, busy, pragmatic elven veterinarian would be especially nice.
(reviewed 25 days after purchase)
on Jan. 31, 2014 :
An interesting and enjoyable mix of lighthearted and serious.
The goblins themselves will often have you chuckling at their various antics as well as how they see, and deal with, the world around them, while at the same time the situation they find themselves dealing with is a mix of grim and almost-tragic.
(reviewed 2 days after purchase)
on Oct. 30, 2013 :
This is a wonderful skewed look at the usual fantasy world; weird, smart, bold and very, very funny. The characters are dysfunctional, loveable, and extremely well drawn. I loved every word and will read it again and again.
(reviewed the day of purchase)
on Oct. 30, 2013 :
This is a wonderful story from a wonderful writer who looks at the world just slightly askew and has the gift to bring the reader into her vision. This is fantasy turned up until the knob falls off, and then gets jammed back on and thumped until it works.
The tropes of high fantasy are not so much skewered as run completely through, strung up, marinated and then deliciously prepared for the reader's enjoyment. Highly recommended.
(reviewed 3 days after purchase)