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Tuesday, February 09, 2010

The Hollow Kingdom by Clare B. Dunkle

I have read The Hollow Kingdom (New York: Holt, 2003) by Clare B. Dunkle. It is part of a trilogy, which series won a Mythopoeic Award for children's fantasy in 2004.

I will summarize the story. Kate and Emily, two teenage orphaned sisters, are sent to live with a supposed relative (it turns out that they aren't really relatives) near a mysterious region of England, probably during the 18th century. They find that there are goblins in the area, and there used to have been elves there, too. The goblin king wants Kate for his wife. The goblin kings only marry a human wife, and, if all goes well, they produce a son, who will himself eventually become king.

Kate does not want to do this. The goblin king is considerably older than she is, and his appearance is not totally human. He lives underground, and if she joins him, she can't come out again. Most of the goblins are even less human in appearance than Marak, the king.

But Kate agrees to become queen, to save her sister, whom she loves (and who is more inclined to live underground). During the marriage ceremony, Kate is given some magical powers. And, it turns out, she and her sister are part elf. She gradually comes to love Marak.

Marak and other goblins are enchanted and stolen by a wicked magician living far away. Kate is the only one who can save them. She is allowed to leave the underground, and rescues them all. At the end, she produces a son, who is mostly human, but has some animal-like characteristics.

The really interesting part, to me, is two religious statements in the book.

If God is so good, she considered unhappily, why won't He make this horrible creature go away? . . . God gives his creatures freedom to act, her father had taught her, and it is our responsibility to use it correctly. (p. 51)

Kate was taken aback. "Revenge is wrong," she told him solemnly. "Vengeance belongs to God." (p. 130)

I wouldn't call The Hollow Kingdom a Christian, or even a religious book, but Dunkle is clearly aware of Christianity.

Thanks for reading.

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