Rating: 3.75 stars
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Noah Abbott is the only one who knows he isn’t crazy. He knows what he saw all those years ago was real, just as he knows the fantastical beings, the trolls and the goblins he sees walking around him unnoticed, are too. The trouble is no one else sees them. Just Noah. And that fact got him a long stay in a psychiatric ward when he was 16 and Noah’s not going there again. Now Noah keeps his head down and his eyes to the ground. He works in a box factory doing menial work for menial wages, and he says nothing to anyone.
Then things slowly start to change. One of his coworkers, Christian, fellow citizen on the outskirts of society, takes an interest in Noah, one that goes far past friendship into that of potential lover, new ground for a virgin like Noah. And a young woman, Hannah Regent, approaches him and asks for help. Turns out she sees the trolls and goblins too and needs Noah to help fight them off and keep her safe.
And with Hannah’s appearance, Noah’s reality is shattered. It turns out he’s an elf on the run. Hannah too. And that monster he saw all those years ago? Well, that monstrous troll is back and hunting them both. With a Goblin King to aid them, Noah and Hannah flee to another universe, one that is their home. There awaits a mighty quest for Noah, and the fate of all the elves hangs in the balance. But Noah isn’t sure he is up to the challenge.
Wow, what a story. It has been several days since I finished this book and I am still trying to decide how I feel about it. Missouri Dalton brings a number of intriguing and thought provoking elements to this story of a “Magpie” child. Noah has been hidden in the human world to protect him (and Hannah) until he can be found and returned to his rightful place as one of the remaining elven royalty. But that world, Noah’s “human world,” is that of most people’s nightmares. He sees things. Awful things that do harm to others and they are coming for him. A basic bump in the dark nightmare that explodes into reality for Noah only no one believes him. Dalton plays further into our fears by having Noah confined to a less than desirable psychiatric ward for years, abandoned by family and friends. This element of the story is so artfully conceived and accomplished that it kept me up thinking for hours on end.
The Noah that is let out of the ward after learning to “play the game” is a person that anyone might meet on the streets today. Head down, eyes averted, trying to stay as inconspicuous as possible. His posture is exactly that of a someone recently released from a mental institution. That has also been his persona at work, a box factory that is one of the few places willing to hire excons and the mentally unstable. Again Dalton has found the perfect setting for Noah and his post “crazy ward” life. Her descriptions of Noah’s job and coworkers are grounded in the reality of such workplaces and they play out that way in the story too.
Noah is such an interesting character because he is such a dichotomy himself. A fake human, a false past, a newly reclaimed elf who just happens to be young by elven standards, a elf teen going through pubescence, it all throws Noah through the proverbial emotional and mental loop until he is not sure who he really is. Is he a hero? A virgin turned slut by his own Elvish pheromones? It is a tumultuous journey that Dalton takes both Noah, now Neiren, and the reader on. Trust me when I say its not always an enjoyable journey, nor are some of the situations and events that happen along the way.
One issue I had with The Blight is that the multiple romances were all too new and shallow to become as meaningful as they needed to be. Noah/Neiren is a highly charged hormonal elf, new to sex and possibly love. And he behaves just like you think such a character would. He is promiscuous, conflicted about love and relationships as well as what is truly acceptable behavior now that he is an elf once more. So much of human morality has been ingrained in his mind and emotions, but that has nothing to do with his current and true reality and quite naturally Noah/Neiren is having problems adjusting. I thought the author did a great job in making Noah’s dilemma real, but those readers who have issues with multiple sexual partners as well as what might be seen as “cheating” may feel uncomfortable with these elements.
And the same can be said about the deaths that occur within the story as well. They happen fast and the events that follow leave little room for grieving. I think most readers will be shocked and hurt by these deaths. We won’t see them coming and neither do the characters, making their impact on all of us genuine and pain filled.
There are things here that may upset many readers. Main character deaths, deaths of beloved characters, characters behaving badly, polyamorous relationships, and finally, maybe a happy for now ending. Missouri Dalton gives the reader instance after instance of moments and events that will have some readers wanting to put this book down and walk away.
And that would be a mistake.
Because as put out as all of above items may make you, there is also so much substance and wonder to be found here as well. The magic of the Goblin Kingdom, and the Goblin King himself. The grotto of lost elves, shaking mountains and black dragons, it’s all here too. I can’t call this story heartwarming because its not. But it has so much to recommend it, the lovely descriptions of magical place hidden away from our mundane human society, and all the beings trying to survive a calamitous time of war and race death. The scope of this story and the descriptions make it worth your while to pick it up and decide for yourself.
For me, it was worth the journey. Here is a taste of how it all starts:
“Noah Abbott, this court has found you incompetent and your parents have decided it is to your benefit to give over guardianship to the state of California. It is the decision of this court that you are to be remanded into the custody of the St. George Psychiatric Hospital until your twenty-first birthday, upon which time you will be re-examined for mental fitness.”
She banged her gavel down. “Court is adjourned.”
I felt the shock of it run over me; it was like being hit by a truck. As I’d been hit by a truck, I was able to make this comparison with some accuracy.
“I’m not crazy, I know what I saw! I am not crazy!”
“Bailiff, please remove Mr. Abbott.”
The men took my arms to take me away; I jerked in their grips, and my tired body protested.
“I know what I saw! I know what I saw!”
The bailiff and his friend dragged me out of the courtroom.
“I know what I saw!” I screamed, my voice hoarse. “I know what I saw!”
That cover illustration by BS Clay is magical. I love it and think it is one of the best of the year.