When I first read the title of author David Bernstein’s latest offering, GOBLINS, I wondered if he had taken a foray into Dungeons & Dragons territory. D&D is the first thing that pops into my head when I hear terms like ‘ogres’, ‘goblins’, and such. But when I saw the cover of the book, I knew fantasy was not where it was headed. I had questions, though: Could goblins truly be terrifying? Would they be hokey rather than scary? Did Bernstein make a mistake with this book? Thankfully, the doubts in my questions were unfounded. With GOBLINS, Bernstein creates a new mold in which to cast his horrific creations.
If you are not familiar with GOBLINS, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Samhain Publishing:
They want the children! Someone is taking children from their homes on Roanoke Island and gruesomely slaughtering their families. After a small, hideous-looking creature is discovered at one of the murder scenes, Chief of Police Marcus Hale realizes whatever is responsible for the killings isn’t even human. Hale suspects a bizarre link to the past, to the end of the 16th Century, when the island’s first settlers disappeared, leaving only the word Croatoan carved into a tree. But something far more sinister than he ever imagined is at work. And if it isn’t stopped soon, the entire island’s population will perish. Just like it did so many centuries ago.
I will admit I did not like this book as much as some of Bernstein’s previous works, but it’s a nice feather in his cap regardless.
GOBLINS is written well, in Bernstein’s signature style. The story flows at a nice, even pace, and the exposition is not overly drawn out. This aspect of his writing style is one of the major draws for me; he focuses more on the story and lets the reader paint a mental picture of the details.
The characters are well thought out and believable. Most could be folks right out of our own hometowns. The goblins are vicious and horrific, demonic hellspawn that are nasty antagonists for the story. I particularly like the goblins’ origin story. I’m not sure if it is based on fact or if Bernstein made it up, but the story certainly makes the creatures more credible and thus, more terrifying.
GOBLINS is good, old fashion horror fun. It is gory, gruesome, and chocked full of horrifying scenarios. The historical tie-in to a well-known mystery is also a nice addition. I recommend giving GOBLINS a look, but don’t expect any wand-wielding wizards in this story…the only fantasy involved here is the one where the goblins dream of bathing on your blood…
The book is available now in a variety of formats.