Rownie is the youngest in a hodgepodge household of stray children collected by Graba the witch. His older brother, Rowan, has vanished after performing in a secret play, and Rownie feels lost without him. Acting is illegal in the city of Zombay. No one may wear a mask and pretend to be someone else. Only goblins may legally perform, for they are the Changed--neither human nor other, belonging nowhere.
Rownie meets a traveling troupe of goblins who promise to teach him the secrets of mask-craft and entice him with the hope of finding Rowan. But Graba does not give up her own easily and hunts for them both. As Rownie searches for his brother, the true power of the masks--and those who wear them--is revealed. Are the goblins what they seem to be? What fateful magic lies hidden in the heart of Zombay?
Mystery and adventure are woven through with charm and humor in this beguiling exploration of family, love, identity, and the power of words to shape what is real.
Oh my. This book is now on my to-buy list. It's not a high intensity action book, but there's something very endearing about Rownie's search for his brother and finding his place. There's danger from Graba as she tries very hard to get him back in her control, especially to keep him away from the goblin acting troupe. There's also the danger to him if the Guard catches him, an unChanged boy performing with masks, highly illegal. But the goblins are not what everyone has said about them.
I can't really say any more than that about the story, but I give it 5 stars. I should also mention that as far as Zombay itself goes, think gears and mechanicals in a medieval fantasy with witchcraft. That is all; carry on and find yourself a copy of the book. Well worth reading with kids you know. Words are very important.