In the mood for something completely different I took The Hollow Kingdom, by Clare B. Dunkle, off my tbr mountain. I'm not even sure what it was doing there, where I saw it recced, or why I bought it, but it's new so I must have got it from Amazon - but some time ago now. One of those inspired buys I suspect.
The story concerns two sisters, Kate and Emily. We're not told their precise ages but Kate is around 17 or 18 and Emily, perhaps 12 or 13. They go to live with a reclusive uncle when their father dies. The uncle lives in a forested region beside a lake and the whole place has an enchanted feel to it. Lost, one night, the girls encounter what they think is a band of gypsies, except that they're not. Their leader helps them home but doesn't show his face. He makes it clear though that Kate and he have a future together. When Kate eventually sees his face she is horrified to find that he is in fact a goblin, but not just any goblin, he is the king of the ones who live under the lake. Even worse he makes it clear that he plans to make her his wife and that she will live with him underground and never see the light of day again.
It's rather strange I think how some books completely hit the spot. Was I in the mood for this Beauty and the Beast type of story or does it just happen to be the kind of thing I enjoy - so I was going to like it regardless of when I read the thing? Being a 'Young Adult' fantasy book it's not explicit in any way but it is romantic and sometimes I feel that, for someone who enjoys romantic fiction, I just don't read enough of it. The writing is engaging, pacey and atmospheric. The main characters, Kate and the Goblin king, Marak, are written sympathetically and with humour. The author doesn't try to turn Marak into a pretty boy or handsome hero, he's ugly and she makes no bones about it. But it works! Not only that, it's a delightful read, a page turner in fact; I devoured it in a couple of days. There are two sequels, book 2 is Close Kin and book 3, The Coils of the Snake, referring I think (hope) to the rather humorous charm in the form of a snake that protects all Goblin King wives from danger whilst quoting statistics about the other 167 wives he has protected. I've ordered both books from Amazon and hope they don't take too long to arrive!