Goodreads: The Goblin’s Puzzle: Being the Adventures of a Boy with No Name and Two Girls Called Alice
Publication Date: January 16, 2016
Brimming with dragons, goblins, and logic puzzles, this middle-grade fantasy adventure is perfect for readers who enjoyed The Princess Bride or Rump.
THE BOY is a nameless slave on a mission to uncover his true destiny.
THE GOBLIN holds all the answers, but he’s too tricky to be trusted.
PLAIN ALICE is a bookish peasant girl carried off by a confused dragon.
And PRINCESS ALICE is the lucky girl who wasn’t kidnapped.
All four are tangled up in a sinister plot to take over the kingdom, and together they must face kind monsters, a cruel magician, and dozens of deathly boring palace bureaucrats. They’re a ragtag bunch, but with strength, courage, and plenty of deductive reasoning, they just might outwit the villains and crack the goblin’s puzzle.
The Goblin’s Puzzle is a heartwarming and satisfyingly clever novel that will appeal to the child in everyone.
Protagonists Alice, Alice, and a boy with no name lead wildly different lives as a princess, a scholar’s daughter, and a slave until a dragon begins kidnapping young maidens named Alice and the boy finds himself obligated to rescue them. From there, the characters’ paths being to converge in a beautifully woven narrative. Chilton knows how to use different points of view to the best advantage and how to make sure they add to one another rather than distract.
Each protagonist is carefully and realistically characterized. Chilton gives each believable strengths and flaws, as well as ample opportunities to correct those flaws. Character development happens naturally as the three children meet up and adventure together, as each gets to see him or herself in new situation and from new peoples’ perspectives.
While the characters are funny and clever and absolutely endearing, the plot will also capture readers’ attention. Chilton utilizes a lot of standard fantasy fare, including dragons, goblins, sorcerers, and monarchs, but he manages to put a unique twist on all of them. Meeting a dragon here is like meeting a dragon for the first time. Add the dragon rescue mission and the titular “goblin’s riddle” together, and you get a plot entertainingly daring and mind-bendingly clever.
The Goblin’s Puzzle is a must-read for anyone who loves a good fantasy quest novel, and one of those books I wish I had had as a child. Perfect for fans of Gail Carson Levine, Trenton Lee Stewert, or Christopher Healy.