Book Review: The Goblins of Bellwater by Molly Ringle

While in the woods one day, Skye gets lured in by goblins and cursed, fated to become one them, only the curse won't allow her to speak of it to anyone, not even to Grady, whom she accidentally pulls into the curse with her. The only other person who knows of the goblins is Kit, their human liaison and Grady's cousin. When Skye, Livy (her sister), Kit, and Grady get entangled in relationships and goblin curses, it will be up to Livy to save them all.

Book Review: The Goblins of Bellwater by Molly Ringle | reading, books, book reviews, paranormal/urban fantasy, retellings, goblins
Title: The Goblins of Bellwater
Pages: 289
My Rating: 4.5 Stars
More Info: Goodreads, Amazon, Publisher


I have to admit, I wavered about the decision to read this book quite a bit. I love reading about uncommon supernatural creatures, so that was a major draw, but the fact that the goblins were just side characters/antagonists had me less excited. I also feared the book would be too slow-paced for my recent difficulty concentrating. But I like retellings, and “Goblin Market” is an interesting, weird little poem, so I decided to go for it. And it turned out to be a great book that I didn’t want to put down! So, here is a list of all the things I liked:

This was somewhat slow-paced, but I never had any trouble getting into it.

The characters were the best thing—they were so lovable!—which is great since the book was a very character-focused one. I especially loved Livy (the protagonist). She wasn’t afraid to make a move or be direct in discussing her relationship with Kit. She was also a great sister, a good person, and someone who loved nature. Kit was the one I found the most interesting, kind of gruff and scruffy, but he was also such a charmer. It’s been a while since I’ve actually been charmed by a character, but I was a little bit smitten with him on Livy’s behalf. I could totally see why Livy was into him. Skye was the hardest to get to know because her personality was so muted behind the curse, but I thought she was smart for trying to find a loophole and then felt bad for the guilt she felt when it kind of backfired. As for Grady, he was just an adorable sweetheart. He also had ears that stuck out, and I loved it (as did Skye) because I’m always thinking about how I want more characters who are realistic-looking instead of airbrushed “perfect.” And I felt for all the characters with what they were having to deal with. They were a little on the perfect side, but it worked for me.

I loved that both Livy and Kit had unique jobs you don’t see often in books. Livy was a scientist who worked in the Forest Service, so she did lots of stuff out and about in the forest, and Kit was an auto mechanic/wood carver. Even Skye and Grady has somewhat interesting aspirations since Skye was an artist/barista and Grady wanted to be a chef. There wasn’t that much about any of their jobs in the story, I just thought they were unique enough to be worth mentioning.

–  I shipped both couples. The romance between Skye and Grady was started because of the goblin curse that basically made them be attracted to each other, but it was clear they would’ve liked each other anyway.

This book was sex positive in that no character was ever portrayed in a negative light for their sexual histories/choices, no character ever tried to police anyone else’s decisions since they were all adults, and condoms were always used. (There was nothing too explicit though. A bit of kissing/touching and then a fade-to-black.)

– The author says this book was inspired by “Goblin Market,” but, to me, this was a true retelling (well, one way of doing a retelling). She took the original poem, altered it a bit to create her own version, then completely expanded it to include more characters, character development, relationships, a plot, and all the details. But she still kept the heart of the poem, which was the bond between sisters.

Even though the goblins were the bad guys, they still featured in the book quite a bit. This was the first book I’d ever read about these particular creatures, but I thought it was a neat portrayal with the paths in the forest and the treehouse dwellings and the shifting.

So much nature! But it makes sense because, as the author pointed out in the afterword, so many of the myths we know were created to explain natural phenomenon. But anyway, all the stuff about the forest was cool, and the underwater stuff was especially cool. That was possibly my favorite scene because something like that *SPOILER* (walking across the bottom of a 100-ft body of water in a magical air bubble and getting to see all the sea creatures) *END SPOILER* would be so incredibly interesting but also so incredibly terrifying, and I felt like the author captured those two feelings perfectly. And I think it was the setting and all the nature stuff that made the book very atmospheric with a kind of magical, secluded feel.

The only negative thing I have to say is that one aspect of the ending didn’t feel quite realistic. *SPOILER* I feel like the characters got over the whole experience a little too quickly/easily, especially Skye. *END SPOILER*

Overall though, I loved this book! It was character-focused, unique, and a great story about goblins, romance, and the bond between two sisters.


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51 thoughts on “Book Review: The Goblins of Bellwater by Molly Ringle

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    1. Kristen Burns

      Thanks, I hope you like this one as much as I did! And gah, you are just so sweet! Noooo don’t feel bad about yours, I’m about to go visit right now, and I’m sure it’s beautiful!

  1. Daniela Ark

    Oh I wasn’t sure I wanted to request this book but I know I want to! I like how the characters and their jobs and romance sound and all that nature! I’m logging in now to see if it’s still available!

  2. Amber Elise @ Du Livre

    Yeah so happy you enjoyed this one Kristen! I read it a while ago, and while it wasn’t for me, I’m happy that you were able to connect with the locations and romances! This book reminded me that I need to read more goblin books!

    1. Kristen Burns

      Yeah, I’ve seen some meh reviews, but this was a reminder that everyone has diff tastes, and sometimes books that don’t quite sound like my kinda thing end up surprising me! Thanks 🙂 I need more goblin books too!

  3. Greg

    Ooh amazing cover! Love it. And goblins! The idea of them living in the woods around a major city is kinda cool. Plus it makes sense that if anyone discovered them, a Forest service person might be involved. The paths and treehouse stuff sounds great, and that first spoiler IS a cool idea!

    1. Kristen Burns

      The cover is gorgeous! And I loved how atmospheric the woods and town and everything was. Yeah, the forest service thing was a good choice since the fae liked her because she was always taking care of nature and stuff. The spoiler thing was so cool!

  4. Danya @ Fine Print

    I’m totally cursing myself for not requesting this when it was available on NetGalley. It sounds amazing! Goblin Market is a cool poem, and I love a character-focused fantasy. Shipping both couples is also a plus — I find that normally I vastly prefer one couple over another in these types of stories.

    1. Kristen Burns

      I also passed it over on NG because of all the reservations I had. Glad I finally read it though! I believe it’s on sale for $0.99 right now if you wanna grab a copy. I love character-focused books too, and I actually hadn’t read Goblin Market until very recently, but it pretty much sealed the deal in me wanting to try this book!

  5. Bookworm Brandee

    I’ve actually read a book by Ringle – the first in a trilogy retelling of Persephone. I loved that book so I can’t explain why I haven’t read the final two nor can I explain why I’m rambling to you about it. 😉 I’m so happy you ended up deciding to read this one though and that it was so good! Again with the well-drawn characters. 🙂 I’ve actually never heard of The Goblin Market and I don’t know how that can be since I did a project on Christina Rossetti in college. Hmm… anyway, I do enjoy when an author puts there own spin on an old story (or poem in this case) and Ringle seems to have done it well. I’ll have to give this one a go. After, of course, I finish the Chrysomelia Stories. 😀

    1. Kristen Burns

      Well, I actually have that Persephone book on my kindle, and I’m always saying I want to read Hades and Persephone retellings, so I can’t explain why I haven’t read it yet lol. But hey, it’s another series we’ll have in common! Thanks, I did really enjoy this one! I hadn’t heard of the Goblin Market until this book came out, and then I ended up reading the poem, so don’t feel bad. I did like the spin the author put on it though!

  6. Molly Ringle

    Thank you SO much for this review! Made my Monday a great deal brighter for sure, and I always love when someone else gets my style of weirdness. 🙂 Since you read m/m too, I wanted to tell you I have a contemporary m/m coming out this year, and I’d completely love to have you review that too. I’m pretty sure it will be up on NetGalley when editing is done (a couple more months probably), so I hope you or anyone else who’s interested will keep an eye out for it! Meanwhile have a fantastic week and don’t try to crawl across the bottom of any bodies of water. 🙂

    1. Kristen Burns

      I’m so glad I could make your day better! Your book was the first I finished in the new year, so thanks to you, I started my bookish year off great XD Oh, thank you, but I generally only read sci-fi/fantasy/paranormal. I do have your Persephone book though, and I do plan to read that one! I think even submarines are absolutely terrifying, so don’t worry, I won’t 😛

      1. Molly Ringle

        Ah, well, I plan to return to the fantasy side with the next one! I never stay away from the paranormal for too long, it seems. 🙂 Enjoy Persephone meanwhile!! And haha, I hear you on the unsettling nature of submarines. Take care! xo, Molly

  7. verushka

    Oh my, such star-crossed lovers, so to speak. I feel like I need to read this poem so I can appreciate this book and your review. I think this is also the first book about goblins I’ve come across, and I like what you’ve describe of them above — the genre certainly needs more unusual characters and creature to keep it fresh.

    1. Kristen Burns

      You *should* read the poem. I actually hadn’t read the poem until recently, and it was what kind of pushed me over the edge into reading the book. The goblins were interesting! We do need more unusual creatures!

  8. Aimee (Aimee, Always)

    I haven’t heard of this one before, and I’m so baffled about that! This sounds super unique and engaging, plus it sounds like I’m going to love the characters and the two romance subplots! <3 Adding it to my TBR ASAP. Great review, Kristen! <3

  9. Kei @ The Lovely Pages Reviews

    I didn’t read all of this because I want to read the book soon and I don’t want to know anything but I haven’t read a goblin book. Ever. I have one from NG I have yet to read and this is on my TBR so I’m really excited for both of them, glad you liked it!

  10. Becky @ A Fool's Ingenuity

    I’ve been putting off reading this one so seeing that you enjoyed it so much definitely makes me want to read now. I obviously need to give this one more of a chance. Even though Goblins are the bad guys in this one I do love the sound of it, and it’s sex-positive too so yay. I am totally going to read this soon (probably, unless I get distracted).

    1. Kristen Burns

      I feel like you might really like this one too! So you should definitely get to it soon! (Although I know what “soon” means to bookworms, or at least what it means when I say it, so yeah lol.)

  11. Olivia Roach

    I remember goblins featuring as the evil characters in the fairy books I used to read as a kid but I can’t recall having read about them much in books since! I am glad that even though you were wavering in reading this one, when you did it was brilliant and a very good read! I especially like the sound of this one being so focused on the characters. Yes, that usually makes it a bit of a slower paced book, but when you get into the characters like this it’s no surprise that you didn’t mind it. And I like that the goblins were featured so much… I’m adding this one to my TBR!

    1. Kristen Burns

      Then I guess goblins make a good antagonist! Yes, I can enjoy a slow-paced book if it’s written well with great characters 🙂 I hope you like this one!

  12. Carrie @ Cat on the Bookshelf

    I’m glad you loved it. I also liked that Molly Ringle developed the goblin world and had them play such a large role. I kind of want to see more goblins in books. I didn’t enjoy the book that much, but it has made me excited for finding more retellings of classics that I love.

  13. Lola

    This books sounds pretty unique and interesting. And how original that it’s a retelling of a poem. I especially am curious about the nature aspects as I always enjoy reading books where nature plays a big role. The characters all sounds fleshed out and realistic, which is nice. Oh and their jobs sound unique too, I always like reading about different jobs and seeing a bit of them.