Review: The Goblin Emperor (The Goblin Emperor #1) by Katherine Addison

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Maia, the youngest, half-goblin son of the Emperor has lived his entire life in exile, distant from the Imperial Court and the deadly intrigue that suffuses it. But when his father and three sons in line for the throne are killed in an “accident,” he has no choice but to take his place as the only surviving rightful heir.
Entirely unschooled in the art of court politics, he has no friends, no advisors, and the sure knowledge that whoever assassinated his father and brothers could make an attempt on his life at any moment.
Surrounded by sycophants eager to curry favour with the naïve new emperor, and overwhelmed by the burdens of his new life, he can trust nobody. Amid the swirl of plots to depose him, offers of arranged marriages, and the spectre of the unknown conspirators who lurk in the shadows, he must quickly adjust to life as the Goblin Emperor.

I am so wretchedly late to the party, but I’m so glad I finally picked up this book.

Everything about The Goblin Emperor sung to me: from the searing clarity of its prose, to its delicate internecine politics, to its understatedly gorgeous and thoughtful world-building, to the way it deals, very achingly, with the terrible buried wounds of childhood abuse, the deep scouring griefs of unbelonging, and that quiet, painful pang of recognition when you read “it was the first time in his life Maia had been surrounded by people who were like him.” And of course, Maia, because if there’s anything that wraps its fingers through my heart strings and pulls, it’s a devastatingly gentle-hearted character who, despite being weaned on so much malice and bitterness and enduring the most gratuitous and unutterable of cruelties, chooses not to harden his heart into steel and meet hate with hate, but to embark upon the path of compassion and kindness instead.

All in all, I loved this book so uncomplicatedly. Something about it pulled me so tenderly towards the feeling of being 13 and hurrying back home from school, alight with a ferocious giddiness and determined to forget myself, and the whole world around me, into a fantastical story. I owe a great debt of gratitude for Katherine Addison for giving me that moment.

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