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Zombay #2

Ghoulish Song

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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, mournful song has a dangerous consequence: It separates Kaile and her shadow. Anyone without a shadow is considered dead, and despite Kaile’s protests that she’s alive and breathing, her family forces her to leave so she can’t haunt their home.

Kaile and her shadow soon learn that the troublesome flute is tied to a terrifying ghoul made from the bones of those who drowned in the Zombay River. With the ghoul chasing her and the river threatening to flood, Kaile has an important role to play in keeping Zombay safe. Will Kaile and her shadow be able to learn the right tune in time?

Set in the delightful and dangerous world of Goblin Secrets, Ghoulish Song is a gripping adventure laced with humor and mystery from National Book Award–winning author William Alexander.

171 pages, Hardcover

First published March 5, 2013

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About the author

William Alexander

16 books93 followers
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 is Cuban-American. He studied theater and folklore at Oberlin College, English at the University of Vermont, and creative writing at the Clarion Workshop. He currently teaches at the Vermont College of Fine Arts program in Writing for Children and Young Adults.

Source: William Alexander's website

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 100 reviews
Profile Image for Meli.
617 reviews398 followers
June 24, 2016
Middle grade perfecto, muy entretenido y oscuro, me encantó.
Una prosa INCREÍBLE, súper mágica e imaginativa, hace que sea un fantasy muy original y que no quieras perderte una sola palabra.
Profile Image for Shane Hurst.
93 reviews
July 1, 2017
This is not exactly a sequel or follow-up but, rather, a parallel or "companion" novel to William Alexander's National Book Award winning Goblin Secrets. Some characters and events overlap, but the stories can be read and enjoyed independently of each other.

While I feel the first book is stronger, Ghoulish Song is also a very strong offering. Whereas Goblin Secrets explored the power of theatre through the journey of a young boy named Rownie, this novel follows the young girl Kaile as she discovers the power of music in her attempt to reunite with her shadow.

As with Goblin Song, this book is also marketed to the 8-and-up crowd, and also like its predecessor it has a tremendous wealth to give to imaginative older readers. The characters are vividly and elegantly drawn, their voices are distinct, and the plot moves rapidly yet with enough detail along the way to immerse you in the fascinating world that is the city of Zombay.

These novels deserve wider acclaim. As in my Goblin Secrets review, I can only wonder if the basic titles have failed to capture the attention of readers. Or maybe it's the marketing and publicity?

If you like whimsical and fantastical literature, these books need to be on your shelves.
Profile Image for Laura5.
500 reviews193 followers
March 17, 2013
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, and #2) The Music of Zombay.
Book one focuses on magical masks and theater, and book 2 focuses on the music that keeps the bridge of Zombay from falling apart.
Different story, different characters, same world.
Profile Image for Rosalie.
202 reviews10 followers
March 15, 2013
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 would be a great book to recommend to the child who wants to read something similar to Harry Potter.
Profile Image for Narges.
79 reviews96 followers
June 19, 2016
A fun experience. The story had a good flow, it made you go on reading. It can be a 4 star, but I give it a 3 because I wasn't moved by it or left in awe. 3 for me is a good story.
Profile Image for Robin.
800 reviews7 followers
July 11, 2022
Kaile lives on the poorer, south side of the river the cuts the magical city of Zombay in half. Her parents run a bakery; her younger brother deserves the nickname Snotfish; and her late grandfather was one of the musicians who played every day on the Fiddleway, the bridge that links the two halves of the city. He taught her to play, and he claimed his music helped keep the bridge from falling apart. But that's the farthest thing from her mind one disastrous day when she risks her mother's displeasure, and worse, by showing kindness to a troupe of goblin minstrels. One of them thanks her by giving her a flute carved from bone, which will only let her play one tune on it; and the first time she plays it, her shadow separates from her.

I realize that whenever that happens to you or me, lighthearted hijinks ensue. But in Zombay, not having a shadow means you're dead. Despite her protests, Kaile is declared dead. Her family holds a funeral for her. She is driven out of their home. No one will look at her, talk to her, shelter her, or help her. It could be worse. In the old days, they used to cut up people suspected of being the unquiet dead, or ghouls, and bury pieces of them in separate graves. At various points in her adventures, Kaile meets one person who is willing to maroon her on a haunted island that could flood at any moment, and another who very politely tries to push her into a furnace. So, having a shadow that doesn't stick to your heels isn't as much fun as you'd expect.

Shade, as Kaile calls her shadow, can suddenly talk to her; or perhaps it would be more accurate to say, Kaile can suddenly hear her voice. Despite the understandable tension between them – Shade has a lot of reasons to resent being Kaile's shadow – they have to stick close to each other if they ever hope to, er, stick together again. Meanwhile, a flood is threatening to wash out the Fiddleway, and something is wrong with music on the bridge. Kaile tries out to be an official musician, but that doesn't go her way, either. Before she can save herself, she (and her shadow) will have to save her family, her city and everyone who has turned their backs on her.

I'm amazed that forgiveness isn't a more explicit theme in this book, considering that a lot rides on Kaile pulling off heroics on behalf of people who have rejected her – which is to say, pretty much everybody. But being honest with oneself is a big theme; taking responsibility for one's own faults, and not taking for granted any of the blessings in one's life. Zombay is an eerie, strange place with ghouls, goblins, men who have replaced some of their body parts with gear-work, people who trade in ghastly goods, and a river haunted by terrifying spirits that become increasingly restless as the floods draw near. Knowing, too, that the author is a descendant of Spanish-speaking immigrants to the U.S., I wonder if there's any significance in his decision to design Zombay with a wealthy Northside (north of the river) and a shabby, working-class Southside. But really, the magic seems to flow with the river itself, under the Fiddleway, along the floating market, the focal point of so many other colorful details and imagination-grabbing ideas. It's a rich place to visit, stirring up a variety of emotions and provoking bendy streams of thought.

This is a companion to the book Goblin Secrets, by the author of A Properly Unhaunted Place, A Festival of Ghosts, Ambassador and Nomad. Try not to confuse this William Alexander with a couple other authors by the same name.
Profile Image for Marsha.
Author 2 books33 followers
October 30, 2018
Appearing as a minor character in Goblin Secrets, Kaile takes front and center stage. Accepting a flute from a wandering goblin actor, she pipes out a tune…and separates her from her shadow. Yeah, that was rather a surprise for me, too.

Kaile is immediately declared legally dead by her local doctor, shunned by her family and neighbors and locked out of her home. Thrust out on her own, Kaile decides to rectify matters, starting with the goblin who gave her that bone flute.

What follows is one strange journey that takes her from the docks, an isolated island to a band of singers and musicians, each music-bringer charged with saving the town in which they live. Kaile’s struggles to find home and family show a tender heart underneath all her lies and bluster. She is a faceted character as compelling as Rownie from Goblin Secrets. The world she inhabits is just as fascinating with its isolated islands and odd buildings and a greater emphasis on magic and superstition and a lesser one on the steampunk elements of Rownie’s milieu.

Both novels explore the importance of speech and song, with Ghoulish Song featuring a small debate about which came first. The former novel’s chapters are titled acts while those of the latter are stated as verses with the author showing equal facility at describing both for the reader.

Who is it, exactly, who helps save Zombay? Neither Kaile or Rownie are aware of the actions of the other person but both pitch in to help when the floodwaters threaten to rise. Will there be a third novel in which they get together and argue about their respective venues? Will Kaile become a full-fledged musician like her grandfather? The questions remain even after the last page is read, making these novels spellbinding, in the best way.
Profile Image for InkFire.
216 reviews1 follower
January 26, 2020
I was afraid that, like so many other sequels, this book would lose some of the drive and vision from the first book. That this book would disappoint where the other excelled.

I have never been so happy to be wrong.

There were some elements and particular phrases that repeated, tying the two books more closely together than just being in the same setting, but the overlap with the first book is relatively minimal. Two meetings with the goblins, one conversation with a witchworker in training, and a single glimpse of the main character from Goblin Secrets. The rest of the book, magnificent and well paced, is an entirely separate story that just happens to be occuring at the same time as the events in Goblin Secrets.

6 out of 5 stars for exceeding expectations and executing a beautiful story to boot.

Will definitely reread.

I'd recommend this book to lovers of fantasy, found family, and goblins that aren't evil by default.
Profile Image for Jacob.
879 reviews49 followers
June 1, 2018
Interesting and quirky, and very much not what I expected. It's been too long since I read Goblin Secrets, so I didn't remember almost anything about the setting. It turned out not to matter, though; this story is almost entirely independent from the other one. At least, I *think* it is :O

The characters are well done, and the main character is very relatable, and the story moves, as long as you buy the central conceit that everyone who knows the poor main character girl really does consider her dead and gone as soon as she loses her shadow. And if you can continue to suppress your disbelief when it turns out the shadow is still there and pretty much stays with her. The idea that music can have its own special properties and side effects in the real world is neat, but overall this wasn't thrilling.
August 26, 2021
No me gustó la narración (supongo que fue por culpa de la traducción) una historia sin sentido, pero debo admitir que el sistema mágico estuvo bien construido. El libro ni siquiera me entretuvo, pues apenas podía leer 20 páginas cada dos días, me aburrió mucho, yo esperaba otra cosa y entré al libro con expectativas. Es un libro Middle Grade pero creo que ni a un niño pequeño podría llegar a gustarle. El libro es un sin sentido, lo único bueno fue el sistema mágico y nada más. Es raro que a mi no me guste un libro, y este la verdad no fue de mi agrado.
Profile Image for Holly Underwood.
310 reviews2 followers
January 27, 2019
This is a very enjoyable companion book to Goblin Secrets. Not a sequel, the stories actually take place at the same time. A couple of characters from the first book are in this one too, which is fun and totally appropriate. Wish there were more!
Profile Image for Sara.
1,488 reviews26 followers
October 18, 2020
This author is so imaginative and does excellent worldbuilding with not many pages to work with. Kaile accidentally plays a bone flute which severs her from her shadow. She is now considered dead. She leaves to find a way to reattach it. Fantasy, but creepy.
15 reviews3 followers
June 21, 2017
I found this book has a much greater character development than the first one. really great song YA voice
September 5, 2019
Absolutely fantastic. If anything, this is even better than Goblin Secrets. I really can't wait to spend more time in this universe. The way this book discusses music, is how I feel about stories.
Profile Image for Kathleen.
3,035 reviews5 followers
October 21, 2019
Revisits the events of the first book, but with a new spin! It seems every group is convinced of its own ultimate importance in keeping the city from falling apart (literally, in this case.)
Profile Image for A.
39 reviews
March 7, 2020
aunque yo leí este libro hace un tiempo, es uno de los que se ha quedado conmigo. la historia de una niña y la sombra fue linda y conmovedora. uno de mis favoritos desde siempre.
Profile Image for Laura.
580 reviews
November 5, 2021
It should be a good book, but I couldn’t find it interesting.
Profile Image for Shanshad Whelan.
648 reviews33 followers
March 26, 2013
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 and leave me treading water as they plunge ahead into a the story at hand–it’s a delicious treat that leaves me hungry for more.

Last year William Alexander’s debut title, Goblin Secrets won the National Book Award, a well deserved award in my opinion. This year we have another story from him set in the same city of Zombay, but not an actual sequel to the last book. Ghoulish Song is the story of haunting music, absent shadows, a dangerous river, and the restless dead.

The restless dead (or undead) have been popular as of late. Zombies, vampires, and the things that hunt them make for well watched TV series and movies. And like any popular subject matter, the undead have slowly and stealthily infiltrated children’s fiction. I admit, I’m not particularly excited by the trend. I think vampires have been done to death (hmm . . . can a vampire be killed by the written word?) and zombies are just not . . . inspiring. So it’s darned impressive that William Alexander’s story manages to delight me despite the undead lurking within.

The other amazing thing about this book? It’s short. Rare are the middle grade fantasy novels that come in under 250 pages. With authors like Rick Riordan and J. K. Rowling delivering huge door stopper sized volumes to eager readers, it seems that publishers and authors have gotten the idea that more is better. So this slim fantasy story comes as a surprise in the wake of so many well padded tales. Turns out, the story is exactly as long as it needs to be–and I think the author and the publisher deserve credit in keeping it that way.

Welcome back to Zombay. An astonishingly different kind of adventure in a vividly realized city of magic, machine and menace. Other than a brief cameo by one or two minor characters from Goblin Secrets, the characters are all new. To the best of my knowledge, this kind of story, where the fantasy world itself is the consistent detail but the characters change entirely, is rare. Even in adult fantasy writing, the only author who comes to mind is Terry Pratchett and his Discworld series.

Mr. Alexander manages to once again deliver, if on a briefer scale than his earlier work. Kaile is the daughter of a baker who yearns to follow in the footsteps of her musical grandfather. A goblin’s gift of a mysterious bone flute turns Kaile’s life topsy turvy when its enchanted song splits the girl and her shadow. Now her family believes she is dead (since only dead things have no shadow) and Kaile is cast out of her own home and life, left to fend for herself in the city. If Kaile can master the magic of the bone flute, perhaps she can restore her shadow, but mastery may not come so easily! An adventure tale set in a powerfully imagined and dangerous world– this is urban fantasy in the truest sense.

Despite its brevity, this particular story will appeal to the sophisticated reader with its rich landscape, varied characters and musical story arc. Fans of otherworldly fantasy will be a ready made audience, especially if they are looking for something new. And our protagonist, Kaile, who often acts before she thinks, is a character that reader’s can easily identify with and understand her plight. While reluctant readers may be drawn to its length, they may find it less accessible than they expected. Readers who loved the first book will definitely want to revisit, but this is a stand-alone that can be read without Goblin Secrets. And unlike the first book, this one has a great cover! So relieved to that after the original book’s cover last year.

I can only hope Mr. Alexander has more stories to share in the years to come!

Other books that fans of Ghoulish Song might also enjoy:

The Dead Gentleman by Matthew Cody (Knopf, 2011)

The Star Shard by Frederic S. Durbin (Houghton Mifflin, 2012)

The Museum of Thieves by Lian Tanner (Delacorte, 2010)

Review originally from my blog Views from the Tesseract http://shanshad1.wordpress.com/2013/0...

Happy Reading!
Profile Image for Barb Middleton.
1,688 reviews124 followers
September 18, 2013
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 to understand its history. The flute is made from a bone and she doesn't know if it is human or not. A series of mishaps and adventures propel her to find answers that she doesn't always wants to hear. When the river threatens to flood Kaile is afraid for her mother and realizes she must listen to the river if she wants to save her mother and the town.

Alexander has unusual plots that are not very predictable. While I struggle a bit with visualizing this author's settings because he doesn't do much world building, he has interesting characters and a dreaminess or creepiness to episodes that create a strong mood. At times this book seemed like it was going to get violent such as Kaile getting tossed into a furnace, but then the author pulls back on the tension making it less scary for younger readers. The theme of teamwork is played out in a unique way. Kaile is bossy with her shadow and doesn't respect its feelings. The shadow is afraid of the dark and is disagreeable most of the time. The two don't get along and it isn't until they work together that they can play the flute in harmony.

The overarching theme is about listening to each other. Kaile's mother doesn't listen to her. Kaile doesn't listen to her shadow. The townspeople don't listen to Kaile. When people don't listen to each communication breaks down and people get hurt. In the end Kaile learns to listen and her mother learns to stop and notice Kaile. Alexander shows change in characters but it is subtle and might be missed by readers. For instance, the goblins are prejudiced by the other townspeople and while the theme isn't explored in this book like the first, it is still evident and Kaile is outraged by her parents treatment of them. Kaile also doesn't want to take responsibility for her part in causing the problems in her family and her life. She does at the end but only when her Shadow admonishes her for not admitting her part in causing the Inspection to fail and resulting in her mother's punishment.

Sometimes I felt like there were so many themes and ideas that I wished more were explored in depth. The story about the girl drowning and getting separated from her shadow felt rushed. The tragedy is explained but I can see readers might confuse it with the river ghoul's story. The ghoul is made up of people who drowned for other reasons such as murder or suicide and it is revealed so close to the other girl's drowning that some might not realize they are separate. I might be being too picky, but I wished there was a clearer separation between the two because it's such an important revelation in the plot.

This is the only steampunk writing I've ever come across and am not very familiar with the genre. The odd gearworks and how they are worked into the storyline is not for everyone. I've had many students not particularly care for it because it is so different. Even my fantasy lovers don't always like it. I still am trying to figure out who to recommend this book to when I do book talks. Maybe its best for my hard core fantasy lovers or science fiction readers. Maybe it requires an older reader even though it is written for younger. Maybe it's more of a sixth grade level book. I'll be interested in how this second book fares because it seems less confusing than book one. We will see...
Profile Image for Sara Grochowski.
1,142 reviews567 followers
February 15, 2013
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 advice her grandfather shared, which serves to give the reader an understanding of Kaile's devotion to her grandfather as well as an understanding of the power of music.

"Music ties knots, and unties them, he had told Kaile. Think about a lullaby, one that ties up the world to make it a safe place for sleeping. It doesn't just convince the child - it convinces the world. Think about a funeral song. It can untie the string we use to hold our grief and let it all spill out. The same song, the very same song, can tie us back together again after we've spilled out." - Pg 32-33 of arc

Kaile tries to be good and follow the direction of her mother, who she feels cares more about her bakery and her position as the best baker in town than about Kaile, but she can't seem to say no when it comes to the magic of music, even when she knows she should. After an unfortunate incident with a goblin troupe, Kaile comes into possession of a flute made of bone, which, when played, separates her shadow from her feet, and sets into motion the events of the novel.

One of my favorite aspects of Ghoulish Song was Kaile's commentary regarding the other characters, like her brother, Snotfish. These descriptions feel realistic. Though she lives in the magical city of Zombay, she still has to deal with her annoying little brother.

"Doctor Boggs hadn't paid a visit to Broken Wall since the Snotfish broke his leg - again - by doing exactly the same thing he had been doing the first time he had broken his leg. He fell from a crate stacked on top of another crate, which he had stacked on a table in the public room. He had been tying several lengths of twine to the rafters. Kaile didn't know why the Snotfish had been tying twine to the rafters, and she had never asked. Either he wouldn't answer, or else he would for hours and hours, and either way she would regret asking." - Pg 47 of arc

Kaile's shadow becomes a central character as well. Like Kaile in some ways, yet a definite individual, Shadow's observations and dialogue offer depth and maturity Kaile has yet to achieve. In essence, Shadow completes Kaile and possesses half of the qualities that ultimately allow her to defeat the ghoul that's bent on destroying Zombay.

"'Tell me why you left,' Kaile said. 'Tell me why you aren't attached to my feet anymore.'
I heard music, the shadow said. It was beautiful and wrenching. It unmoored me. It cut me away from you. I huddled in our room while so many other people came in. Then they all left, and you left with the lantern. You left me almost in the dark. I followed. The only thing I know how to do is follow you. I don't want to. You never noticed me when you dragged me across the ground while walking. You never noticed when someone else stepped on my face. I don't want to be anywhere near you. But near you is the only place I know." - Pg 55-56 of arc

Ghoulish Song is creative with beautiful writing. I think young readers will identify with Kaile while enjoying the delightful world Alexander has created.
Profile Image for Krista (CubicleBlindness Reviews).
601 reviews108 followers
April 10, 2013
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 dark content I do feel this second story took it to a way darker level, that even made me feel uncomfortable.

The main character is told by her family that she is dead because her shadow is no longer attached to her body. Completely ignored, then a funeral performed on her she is eventually locked out of her home. Into the dark streets to find the Goblin who caused her shadow to separate with no help from him, she must venture into this very dark and scary city, alone to find more answers. How can she be dead...when she is alive, breathing and can communicate with others.

Many different encounters throughout the city with very questionable characters ensue and the danger grows as the city is soon to be overtaken by floods.

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 dark content I do feel this second story took it to a way darker level, that even made me feel uncomfortable. The first book, Goblin Secrets, I felt the humor, I enjoyed the magic and adventure. Yet in this story I just felt heartache and fear.

The main character is told by her family that she is dead because her shadow is no longer attached to her body. Completely ignored, then a funeral performed on her she is eventually locked out of her home. Into the dark streets to find the Goblin who caused her shadow to separate with no help from him, she must venture into this very dark and scary city, alone to find more answers. How can she be dead...when she is alive, breathing and can communicate with others.

Many different encounters throughout the city with very questionable characters ensue and the danger grows as the city is soon to be overtaken by floods.

I listened to the audiobook which is narrated by the author. I think he does a great job narrating the story and giving voice to the characters, making the story feel very dark, brooding and scary.

Although the overall feeling of the novel made me very saddened by the world and what the characters have to go through (even relating back to the first audiobook as well) This particular story made me very sad and broke my heart a little. Even at times when there should have been some humor, I only felt crushed by what Kaile was having to go through in this horrible city with it's horrible occupants.

This is a series that I would label under "emo" if additional genre tags existed. It's a really unique world, Almost Lemony Snicket mixed with Nightmare Before Christmas atmosphere.
Profile Image for Mariah.
333 reviews27 followers
August 8, 2021
Ghoulish Song is a companion novel that exceeds the quality of its predecessor though admittedly that’s not too difficult considering the middling quality of Goblin Secrets. I liked it more solely because of Kaile being a superior protagonist to Rownie, but make no mistake the issues I had with the first book are present here as well.

This book takes a look at what a girl who is a less than minor character in Goblin Secrets is doing on the day of the great flood Rownie and the goblins are seeking to prevent. Unbeknownst to them she has her own part to play in the events of the day. Due to her shadow being removed Kaile is pronounced dead - that is, everyone around her is going to ignore her as if she is as a means of protecting themselves from vengeful spirits. Through her attempt to join her shadow back to her she becomes wrapped up in the flood plotline.

However, interestingly enough the two do not converge in the way you’d expect. In fact, the two stories do not make direct contact at all outside of a small interaction somewhere in the middle. It’s very much two completely independent sides of the same story about one big event. I found this kind of fun because it provided further insight into the world which I believe is the strongest part of this entire series.

I liked learning more about the traditions, superstitions and overall culture of Zombay. Admittedly, I did not remember a lot of details about Goblin Secrets, but Alexander makes it easy to slide right in. He excels at creating a diverting, immersive atmosphere. I was a little confused yet entertained; kind of like Kaile, herself.

In contrast to Rownie, Kaile is a much more supportable character. She knows what she wants, and she is the one to strike out to make her own way. She relies on her own intrepid spirit to keep her going. I also think the ‘chosen one’ trope not being projected onto her helped immensely.

Her secondary cast, consisting of a secret musicians guild her late grandfather belonged to, is unfortunately as similarly underdeveloped as the goblin theatre troupe - I’d almost go so far as to call them knockoffs - but thankfully, she’s a strong enough character to combat that.

Most books can fit into a three act construct and I have no problem with it because it’s not even noticeable unless you’re looking for it or particularly attuned to it. I definitely could feel the transition in this case. The trek to unite her and her shadow is milquetoast. It involves a murky magical system that doesn’t get explained too well. This causes the ending to be underwhelming as it relies heavily on the aforementioned magical system. The mystery regarding the flute is not well interwoven into the rest of the story as the puzzle of it doesn’t require much effort to figure out. It’s basically known from the beginning so most of the book is simply biding time until it’s confirmed later.

Also there’s the question of how much Kaile really is impacting given what we know of Rownie’s influence. Conversely, there’s the same question of Rownie’s impact in relation to what Kaile does.

All in all, an average read, though slightly more enjoyable than the previous installment.

Goblin Secrets Review
Profile Image for Serch Tijuana Lee.
204 reviews24 followers
December 1, 2015
“Amontonó todos sus miedos y sus frustraciones y los convirtió en una bola sin palabras”.

Este libro nos conduce de regreso a Zombay, el país imaginario creado por el escritor William Alexander en El secreto de los duendes. Ahora nos encontramos con una valiente chica llamada Kaile, quien sueña con dedicarse a la música. Un día sus sueños parecen volverse realidad cuando un duende le regala una flauta tallada en un hueso. Sin embargo, al tocarla ocurre algo terrible: Kailie pierde su sombra.

El problema es que en este reino fantástico, cualquiera que se separe de su sombra se considera muerto. Ello a pesar de que siga moviéndose y respirando. Esta chica deberá no sólo encontrar la fórmula que le permita ser como era antes, sino también hallar la melodía que le permita salvar a su pueblo de una inundación que amenaza con destruirlo todo.

Les voy a dejar claro que este libro no es una secuela de “Los Secretos de los Duendes”. Es otra historia, sólo está ambientada en el mismo lugar y también hay duendes pero nada más. La portada del libro está genial ya que muestra los principales elementos de la historia: la pequeña protagonista corriendo asustada llevando consigo la flauta de hueso y su sombra perdida siendo perseguida por una espeluznante mano…

“Una Canción Macabra” es un excelente libro infantil (para un público de entre 7 y 12 años) que los pequeños lectores van a disfrutar por completo, el autor, William Alexander, creó una atmósfera impecable en una ciudad donde los duendes caminan por las calles y las brujas realizan hechizos. Es una historia familiar con tintes de suspense y misterio, ideal para las noches antes de dormir. Además resalta algunos valores que servirán de inspiración a los lectores.

No tenía demasiadas expectativas sobre este libro, mientras la historia fue avanzando logró atraparme por completo ya que los personajes están muy bien definidos. Me gustó como Kaile se enfrenta a vampiros, zombies y la valentía de esta pequeña, no sólo para salvarse a si misma, sino a todo su pueblo.

Otro aspecto que me llamó la atención fue que la música se vuelve fundamental para el desarrollo de la trama (por cierto, cada capítulo se divide en estrofas) aunque batallé un poco para darle voz y encontrar el tono adecuado pero ese “detalle” hizo entretenida la lectura.

Para concluir, es un libro que se lee rápido, tan sólo tiene 195 páginas, en un abrir y cerrar de ojos lo habrás terminado. Lo menciono nuevamente, si deseas que tus primos, hijos o sobrinos se interesen en la lectura, “Una Canción Macabra” es una excelente opción, si bien no es tan aterrador como parece si es un gran viaje a la fantasía y al desarrollo de la imaginación.

Aségurate de tener tu sombra al terminar de leer…
Profile Image for Danielle Shelton Walczak.
46 reviews16 followers
April 18, 2021
This is an interesting middle grade story, where the main character, Kailie, finds herself trying to convince her parents and fellow towns people (who can see her) that she's not actually dead, simply because she has lost her shadow. Unconvinced, Kailie finds herself ostracized and she goes on a quest to find her shadow and the reason why it has left her. This is a fascinating story because it intersects cultural norms; folklore; magic, and plain old common sense. Kailie and even her shadow are well developed characters and the relationship between fraught with complexity. What was missing for me was the full development of the how and why. I chose this book (from my bookstore) not realizing it was the second in a series. Possibly the first would give me the context that I needed. On its face, there was not enough contextual development for me to give it a higher rating. Nonetheless, I would recommend this book. It is surely for younger more advance reader who can handle the idea of death in fiction.
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