Sometimes I'm resistant to reading a book in a series when the protagonist is a different person from the one I've come to expect - there's always an initial period of adjustment until I get caught up in the story. In this case, however, I was pleased to find that the story follows the life of Emily, younger sister to Kate, who was featured in the first book. Kate's story comes to a satisfying conclusion in the first book of the trilogy, but I was left to wonder about Emily, who had taken the whole going-to-live-with-the-goblins-underground event so very much in stride.
This volume also features Seylin, Emily's friend from the first book who can take the form of a cat, but who, in goblin form, is made fun of by his peers because of his strikingly handsome elvish features. Emily doesn't think about his looks one way or another - to her, he's a very good friend. In fact, she misunderstands when Seylin becomes romantically interested in her, and her rebuff sends him out of goblin territory in a search for people more like himself: the elves. The storyline alternates between Seylin's quest for his heritage and Emily's quest to find Seylin and set matters straight between them. Marak, the goblin king, appears to have greater control - and interest - in the situation than either of them suspects.
I enjoyed this second book in the trilogy, although it was a bit darker than the first one. The lives of the elves are wretched indeed, as is the sense of hopelessness as far as the possibility of goblins and elves ever being reconciled. There is something that is fundamentally wrong about a society that must abduct women from other races in order to survive, and that issue is never really addressed in either of the first two books. True, the captives become, for the most part, reconciled to their imprisonment underground, and some truly grow to be happy. But still, I can't help but wonder if the third volume will address this issue. The characters are the true strength of this series, and I am very much looking forward to reading the conclusion to this compelling trilogy.
Books in the Hollow Kingdom Trilogy:
1. The Hollow Kingdom
2. Close Kin
3. In the Coils of the Snake
Close Kin (Book 2 of The Hollow Kingdom trilogy) by Clare B. Dunkle (Henry Hold and Company, 2004)
Also reviewed at:
Here, There, and Everywhere: "I totally enjoyed this book... almost, as much as book one. I can't help it... Marak was such a great character in book one that it will hold the top spot to this trilogy I am sure."
Read_Warbler: "I liked its humour, its pacey plot, the characters are all very real with weaknesses as well as strengths and I liked the satisfying ending. I have no complaints whatsoever. Excellent."
Someone's Read It Already: "Overall, I’d say it’s got some problems, but for those who enjoyed the first volume, this will be a necessary bridge to the third volume and, of course, an integral portion of the story."
Also: Check out this post at Becky's Book Reviews for an interview with Clare Dunkle!