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Ghoulish Song (Zombay #2)

3.81 of 5 stars 3.81  ·  rating details  ·  243 ratings  ·  64 reviews
A brave girl flees a ghoul while trying to save her town in this lively, fast-paced companion to National Book Award winner Goblin Secrets.

Kaile lives in Zombay, an astonishing city where goblins walk the streets and witches work their charms and curses. Kaile wants to be a musician and is delighted when a goblin gives her a flute carved out of bone. But the flute’s single
Hardcover, 176 pages
Published March 5th 2013 by Margaret K. McElderry Books (first published March 1st 2013)
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Community Reviews

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I really like the way this author writes. He's really rather classy. Unfortunately the covers are not classy at all. Not bad, just not classy. I think he deserves something a bit more special on the front covers. But yes, I know there is a thing called marketing... oh well. Well done William Alexander. I'll be looking forward to reading more, and also very much looking forward to seeing what my boys think of the Goblin books. I think they'll love them.

Oh, I meant to say, I really like the 'comp
I think I liked Ghoulish Song better than Goblin Secrets, although I don't think I would have appreciated it nearly as much without reading Goblin Secrets first.

Do you have to read Goblin Secrets first?
No - although if you do the world of Zombay will feel familiar, and there are a few extra connections you will make as a reader.
Ghoulish Song can definitely stand on its own as as a fabulous fantasy novel/

William Alexander said that the working titles for the books were #1) The Masks of Zombay, an
Mar 15, 2013 Rosalie rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Rachael
Shelves: childrens-books
At first, I didn't think I was going to like this book. But after a few chapters I was hooked into the story which is about Kaile, a young girl who losed her shadow after playing a tune on a flute made out bone. Kaile is now thought to be "dead" since she no longer has a shadow. Her parents even hold a funeral for her even though Kaile is still breathing and talking. The rest of the story involves Kaile trying to get her shadow back. She has to deal with ghouls, zombies and other creatures. This ...more
Erin Reilly-Sanders
I seem to be a much greater fan of Goblin Secrets than Ghoulish Song. this one was really just an okay story- neither objectionable nor addictive. I wonder if this has to do with the fact that I listened to this one on audio but read a hard copy of the first book. Although William Alexander is a competent reader and would likely shine reading this out loud in a family setting, he lacks the polish of a truly professional reader. His character voices were not as developed as I typically find in th ...more
Book Angel Emma
Review by Shelly

Ghoulish Song is a companion to Goblin Secrets as the two books run side by side. So if you read my review about Goblin Secrets you could probably understand my trepidation on reading this one. I have to say though that I enjoyed this one a lot more.
The story follows Kaile whose problems start when she is given a flute made out of a bone by a Goblin Troupe. When she plays the only tune the flute will allow her shadow goes and separates itself from her. A problem for most people
I think if I were a kid, I’d rate this higher. And it’s not like I didn’t enjoy this book, just didn’t get into it. I love Alexander’s Goblin world, and this is part of the world, but not part of the series. A few of the characters from “Goblin Secrets” show up, so it was fun to see them, if only for a bit, but for the next in the series comes up. If I were younger I think I’d totally want to immerse myself in the Goblin world, so might have enjoyed this more as a young adult, and that’s who thi ...more
Kaile lives with her parents and young brother in the magical city of Zombay, where goblins and witches walk the streets and peddle their trade. Disaster results when Kaile allows a troupe of goblin performers to entertain at the family eatery. Her mother is outraged and orders the goblins to be thrown out. Kaile takes a basket of her mother's prized bread to the goblin leader in an attempt to prevent a goblin curse on her family. The leader gives her a bone flute that causes Kaile a new list of ...more
I couldn't put this down! When I discovered that it was the 2nd book in the series, I immediately requested the 1st book...hope that it is as good as the 2nd. There is so much rich detail in this story; a lot of world-building went into this, and the care taken really helps this story to shine.

I picked it up because we are doing a series on scary books, but this wasn't really scary though it did have some elements in it that in themselves were scary. Not sure if that makes sense.... Anyway, high
Shanshad Whelan
Recommended for grades 4 and up.

It’s always a pleasure to discover a fresh new voice in children’s fiction–in my case it’s especially delightful when it’s a new voice in fantasy. There’s a lot of fantasy out there, and a lot of it takes the same story ideas, the same tropes and cliches and it makes for a lot of stories that can’t get me excited or interested because I’ve heard them already. So when authors like William Alexander come along and throw me into their vividly imagined urban landscape
Kaile lives in a world that is half medieval and have steam punk. She works in the family pub and bakery doing her best to help and still be a feisty young girl. She loves her family, even the little brother she calls Snotfish. When she is given a strange flute that only plays one song, Kaile blames the goblin who gave her the flute for all her troubles. She begins a journey to learn the origins of the flute, how to return to her family, and along the way discovers her own surprising destiny.

Kaile lives in Zombay, a city always on the verge of flooding. Her mother is a baker, and on the day of inspection Kaile allows a goblin troupe to perform in her mother’s bakery. When her mother finds out, she sends Kaile’s father to get rid of the goblins, and the goblins feeling slighted start to curse the family. Fearing the curses, Kaile sneaks out to pay the goblins with the best bread mean to the inspection, and in return receives a bone flute, that separates her from her shadow, h
Sara Grochowski
William Alexander's Ghoulish Song is a short read and an adventurous, magical tale. Though technically the companion to Goblin Secrets, in which readers are first introduced to the city of Zombay, it isn't necessary to read this previous offering to enjoy Kaile's story.

Kaile dreams of being a musician and following in the steps of her grandfather, who recently passed away. In Zombay, music is magic that musicians use to protect the city and its inhabitants. Kaile often refers to stories and advi
I absolutely loved Book 1 in this series. I know, I can be a little kid sometimes. Book 2 was nearly as good and I quite enjoyed myself. Ghoulish Song gives us more of the steampunk flair, going into how the Inspector weighs and measures the quality of the bread loaves with his mechanic arms and eyes. the loss of a shadow, something we never think of, and how it throws Kaile’s life into a spin was inventive and entertaining. The enchanted flute and the monsters and wonders Kaile faces with it ke ...more
Barb Middleton
This sequel to "Goblin Secrets" is a simpler read at 166 pages. The plot is a straightforward adventure in which a girl, Kaile, plays a flute that separates her from her shadow. The flute was given to her by a troupe of goblins that she invited to play at her mother's bakery. Her superstitious family thinks she is dead and has a funeral. Kaile attends the funeral and says she's alive and well but they ignore her thinking she's a ghoul. She sets off for answers by finding the owner of the flute t ...more
Krista (CubicleBlindness Reviews)
This book was way more morbid than the first story in the series. My niece (8yrs) couldn't handle it after the first couple "verses" aka chapters. It is a pretty dark read, mentions children suicides, bones taken from people and made into musical instruments. Coal is made from human hearts and punishments for doing things "wrong" in this city are also dark/disturbing. I am not sure I would recommend this for sensitive or younger children.

The first book was more enjoyable, even though it also had
William Alexander’s, Ghoulish Song, is a fascinating middle grades book with enough adventure to satisfy any adult. What I love about this book so much is that it isn’t necessary to read the first story in this series to understand what is going on. Although I did read the first book in this series, I just enjoyed this one more! Kaile’s story is a wonderful one and following her adventures leaves me incredibly worn out. Kaile dreams of becoming a great musician just like her Grandfather, but her ...more
Ghoulish Song is a companion to Goblin Secrets, one really couldn't call it a sequel. The story takes place in the same city, Zombay, as Goblin Secrets, and at about the same time.

Kaile is the daughter of the finest baker in all of Southside. She lives and works in the bakery, her mom, the finest baker, has little time for songs, Kaile's passion. After inviting a troupe of Goblins to play in their public room everything goes wrong. Kaile looses her shadow and is exiled from her house. They don'
AudioBook Review:

Blending a touch of steampunk into this story, Alexander seems to hit the perfect blend of pace and suspense, with a bit of darkness for tension to please a reader or listener. While I might not be inclined to use this book as a bedtime read – it is the perfect companion for those children wanting something a little darker and scary: I can imagine this story influencing the ghost stories told in later years.

I really like Kaile, her frustrations with the ordinary are completely
Children's short middlegrade adventure/fantasy with goblins, 'dark' magic, and steampunk-like mechanical elements. [Maybe 4th-6th grades?] Part of a series, but with separate characters/stories (can definitely stand alone, so this is a potential contender for the Newbery).

I wasn't too impressed with Goblin Secrets (despite not-as-prestigious-as-you'd-think National Book Award status) but figured I'd give this one a chance--didn't actually get more than a few pages in, unfortunately, because I w
I really liked the first book of this series (Goblin Secrets), but was never able to connect with the main character of this novel, or to care much about her plight. I think Alexander had a lot of high-reaching themes he wanted to explore about the significance of music in society, the importance of truly listening, the progression from childhood to adulthood, and several other big ideas - this book felt like a jumble of big ideas, and not much in the way of connecting parts. A shame, because Al ...more
Teresa Bateman
The town of Zombay has its own magic and rules. The rules are what get Kaile into trouble. It starts with goblins and ends with a bone flute separating her from her shadow. As the rules clearly state--anyone without a shadow is dead. She's now considered a ghoul and her funeral is held. The fact that she's breathing and her heart is beating are clearly irrelevant. Only through finding the history of her flute, reconciling with her shadow, and becoming the musician she was always meant to be, can ...more
Short & Sweet: I fell in love with the first novel set in this world – Goblin Secrets – and was excited to find this new novel. I love the world set up, with the goblins as performers and almost magical beings. I love the mix of technology and magic intertwined and how it really brings a magical setting to the novel. Kaile becomes separated from her shadow thanks to a magic flute given to her by a goblin and finds herself cast out as a ghoul and on her own. The flute brings her to another g ...more
Teresa Osgood
We return to Zombay in, not a sequel, but a story that runs parallel to Goblin Secrets. One of my favorite scenes from Goblin Secrets is reproduced, but with the added richness of Kaile's point of view. Kaile is a baker's daughter with a talent for magical music, but the music gets her in trouble when she loses her shadow. Through several adventures, she also helps save the town from the flood. While I missed Rownie, I enjoyed getting to know Kaile and her new friends.
An interesting idea for a tale. The imagery of a song or tune being able to hold something together or tear it apart was well done. My 7 year old daughter read this first and then gave it to me with a high recommendation. So, a fine book for young readers but lacking the substance and depth that immerses me.
Samma Lynne
It was a solid 4. Until the last... fifth or so of the book.

And then it was easily one of the best books I read this year. I loved how everything came together. I will say that I wish the protagonist would have had an actual epiphany about her character, but I feel like she did and we just didn't quite get it.
Cecilia Rodriguez
Alexander seems to be influenced by Mercedes Lackey, as Kaile could fit in with her Bards.
The other source of the story is Irish/Welsh folktales involving a bone harp.
Kaile wants to be a musician like her grandfather, and after her little brother melts a tin flute, she get her chance.
Thank you to Murdoch Books for this review copy!

I had so many hopes for Ghoulish Song, because the description gives so much potential, makes me feel there is so much waiting within this book, but the creatures that were suggested, things that sounded incredible and were just what I wanted to be reading about, didn't get developed or explained because they were regular for the characters, and I found Kaile a really frustrating, whinger-type character. I enjoyed the perspective of her shadow, a c
This "companion" book to Alexander's NBA winning Goblin Secrets is much less substantial and much faster-paced. Its heroine is Kaile, daughter of a baker (she does appear briefly in Goblin Secrets) who brings doom upon herself by accepting and playing a bone flute given to her by a goblin. The tune she plays severs her shadow, and so, shadowless, she is declared dead and given a funeral. Physically still very much alive, Kaile must find a way to reattach her shadow, uncover the mystery of the bo ...more
This year's National Book Award for teen fiction went to Goblin Secrets and rightly so. Now the next chapter in the Zombay series has been unleashed to the world. Kaile lives among goblins and witches. She has a musician's soul but when she plays her flute, its mournful song separates her from her shadow. As with Peter Pan, this can only lead to no good. The flute is doomed by a ghoul constructed by the bones of those who perished in the Zombay river. It wants the flute and threatens the next de ...more
Conrad Zero
This is not a “Part 2″ to Goblin Secrets, as some reviewers are saying. (Since William Alexander told me this himself, I’m inclined to believe him.) Ghoulish Song is a “companion” to Goblin Secrets. Both books are set in the same world at the same time. The city of Zombay, its magic, witches, Goblin-acting-troops, squidskin coats, and clockwork guards are revealed through both novels. The two books can be read in either order, and you can read either story without reading the other, but reading ...more
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author by this name in the Goodreads data base.

William Alexander won the National Book Award in 2012 for his first book, Goblin Secrets, and the Earphones Award for his narration of the audiobook. He has since written three more novels for Middle Grade audiences: Ghoulish Song, Ambassador, and Nomad.

Will studied theater and folklore at Oberlin College, Engli
More about William Alexander...

Other Books in the Series

Zombay (2 books)
  • Goblin Secrets (Zombay, #1)
Goblin Secrets (Zombay, #1) Ambassador Ana’s Tag

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