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Ghoulish Song

(Zombay #2)

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  416 ratings  ·  87 reviews
Un libro lleno de misterio, fantasía y magia.
“La prosa elegante de Alexander teje una atractiva fantasía que nos habla sobre el poder de la música.”
Publishers Weekly

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
Hardcover, 171 pages
Published March 5th 2013 by Margaret K. McElderry Books
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Shane Hurst
Jun 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
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
Mar 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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,
Mar 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Jun 16, 2016 rated it liked it
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.
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
Jan 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
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
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
The Overflowing Inkwell
I really enjoyed this one. It was much darker in theme than I expected, and I had no idea it would have all the clockwork, gears, springs, general steampunk theme - but well done, everything I had hoped Mechanica would be. I really loved the world this was in as well: it's rare you find a story like this set in the 'Southsides' of the world, rather than the nicer neighborhoods. If you've ever seen Atlantis: The Lost Empire, then perhaps you'll see the similarities between Cymbat and Mole as I ...more
Holly Underwood
Jan 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
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!
Cassandra Carpenter
Sep 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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.
Oct 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
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.)
Adam Gordon
Jun 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I found this book has a much greater character development than the first one. really great song YA voice
Dec 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Alexander creates a fresh world of his own. Imaginative, creative, fascinating. Hope someone makes the Zombay tales into a movie.
Shanshad Whelan
Dec 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, childrens, mg
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
Barb Middleton
Sep 17, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy, steampunk
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 ...more
Sara Grochowski
Feb 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
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
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,
Chelsey Wolford
Apr 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
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
Lisle Library Youth Services
Though it's listed as the second in a series, this book can just as easily stand alone. In this world, music has strange powers. The ongoing dialog between the main character and her own shadow is at times funny and at times sad and profound. The main character is endearing and the story moves at a good pace. I highly recommend.
Ghoulish Song is a pretty worthy companion to William Alexander’s first work in his Zombay series, Goblin Secrets. Taking place at roughly the same time and featuring some of the same characters, the story here focuses on the magic and importance of music. Under the stern tutelage of her mother, Kaile is learning to be best baker in Zombay’s Southtown, but her heart remains with music and the musicians her grandfather used to meet with to perform on the Zombay Bridge. However, when Kaile makes ...more
Sep 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: children-s
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
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 ...more
Jan 17, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: guest-reviews
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 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 ...more
May 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
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.

Mar 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya
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
Oct 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Another story set in Zombay and written in the same enchanting style as Goblin Secrets.


“Kaile listened, but she couldn’t hear either music or unpleasant scraping sounds—only the metal-rimmed wheels of the wheelbarrow carriage as they fought with the road surface and found every bump.”

“Luce gave her a look that could cut glass.”

“Kaile stood in a small puddle of silence and disappointment.”

You can hold anything together with the proper tune, Luce had said, or you can tear it apart.

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
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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,

Other books in the series

Zombay (2 books)
  • Goblin Secrets (Zombay, #1)