Makenna has grown up in a small village, learning to become a hedgewitch like her mother, running wild with the village children. One tragic day, however, her mother is betrayed by those she thought were friends, and she is killed. Narrowly avoiding death, Makenna becomes bitter with all humankind, and instead befriends a small group of goblins, where she finds that her mother’s death is just a small part of a larger and darker plan, one she swears to stop at all costs.
When Tobin, a young knight, gets tangled in a dangerous misunderstanding, he loses everything. His only hope of earning it back lies in a dangerous quest to destroy the allegedly evil sorceress that is said to live in the Goblin Wood, along with her army of goblins. Tobin has been raised to see right and wrong, good and bad, but as his mission gets more complex, he begins to realize that the world is more complicated than he always thought.
As the Tobin and Makenna struggle in the growing conflict, it becomes clear that the battles being fought are not what either of them thought they were, and that loyalties cannot be divided—decisions must be made, and they could change the tide of war…
I liked this book for several reasons. First of all, the goblins were very well done. Hilari Bell has created a species that are not in essence just small, powerful humans, as too many fantastic creatures seem to be, but beings which see the world in a unique way and act accordingly, something which I always appreciate. The characters and their relationships very well done, and I particularly liked Makenna—she’s like the best combination of Keladry of Mindalin (the Protector of the Small Quartet) and Lyra Belaqua (The Golden Compass) that I can imagine! The story is told alternating between Makenna’s and Tobin’s perspectives, and while I usually prefer one main character, the two perspectives made it even better. Also, I liked that there were good and bad people on both sides of the conflict—one species or race is never purely one or the other, and the story felt much more believable that way. I would recommend The Goblin Wood to those ages ten and up looking for a satisfying, absorbing, and sometimes amusing read.