Welcome to Paperback Throwback. Each week, I highlight a book from my ever-growing collection of older paperbacks, ‘90s and prior. Come check out everything from Zebra’s line of horror to Scholastic’s preteen Apple Paperbacks, and everything in between— you’ll know them by their stylishly cheesy covers, flashy plots, and cheap prices.
Join me on this stroll down Literary Memory Lane. Stops include Sweet Valley High, Fear Street, and anywhere else mass market paperbacks may be lurking.
Today’s selection is all about goblins.
Goblins in the Castle
by Bruce Coville
Illustrated by Katherine Coville
After he was found as a baby on the drawbridge, William has lived comfortably at Toad-in-a-Cage castle for eleven years. With its massive library, seemingly infinite rooms, and secret passageways, it’s the perfect playground. However, lately William’s been hearing strange and terrible noises. One night, these wailing sounds draw him to the dungeon where he discovers a man named Igor who guards a mysterious door … a door holding back something desperate to escape.
I was first introduced to this book in third grade, and it’s continued to remain one of my favorites ever since. Toad-in-a-Cage castle sounds like the perfect home. Sure, it might be a bit dusty, but there’s an enormous library and secret passages. What more do you need?
Author Bruce Coville is a master of setting the foreboding scene. Young William knows something’s wrong. For starters, the North Tower can never be opened— by decree of the Baron, who owns the castle. But then there are the constant wails that seem to permeate throughout the castle, and which only seem to be getting worse. It’s eerie and leads up to a particularly explosive scene on Halloween, the most dangerous night of the year, when William opens the North Tower and unleashes goblins into the world. It’s a fantastic beginning— all signs point to something big happening, but that doesn’t make the door opening any less effective.
But it isn’t all serious. Coville knows his audience and has no problem tossing around a fart joke or two. Between Igor and his teddy bear that he uses to bop goblins, Herky the goblin and his attempts to befriend William, and a witch named Granny Pinchbottom, it’s a riot.