From School Library Journal
Gr 5-8-In this companion to Goblin Secrets (S & S, 2012), Kaile works hard in her parents' bakery/alehouse in a river city. On Inspection Day at the bakery, she allows a goblin and his troupe to perform in the public room and is given a bone flute. When she plays the instrument, she is separated from her shadow. No shadow, no life, according to her culture, and, despite her protests, there is a funeral for her the next day. Ostracized by family and community, Kaile leaves home, with Shade at her side. The city of Zombay is an odd place filled with Rock Movers, who lose appendages doing their work and replace them with makeshift metal parts, goblins that supposedly steal children and turn them into ghouls, and a host of other strange characters. There is a dark edge to this tale, and death seems very close. The story of redemption is what gives this book its appeal, with the strange characters and places more of a distraction than an asset. Some of the situations are, well, ghoulish; Kaile visits a Reliquary, a repository for bones, many of them human, and discovers that her flute is made of a young girl's femur. At times comic, at times creepy, this unusual tale winds its music around readers' hearts.-Kathy Kirchoefer, Henderson County Public Library, NCα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kaile, the protagonist of this light fantasy adventure, has to leave her bakery-shop home when her family—and the rest of the community—decides that she, after being cursed by goblins, is dead. The dead, in this medieval-meets-steampunk culture, are apparent because their shadows are no longer visible, but Kaile’s shy, wise shadow continues to travel with her as the little girl sets off to find a community, taking nothing of home with her but her bone flute and a longing to be seen as a living being. Alexander spins out Kaile’s adventures—and the cast of ghouls, humans, and other creatures she and her shadow meet—with quick, sure strokes, making this a vivid and fast-paced read. Kaile is strong, brave, and realistically imperfect both in her reasoning and her musicianship, and she’ll easily resonate with many readers. Give this to fans of Diana Wynne Jones’ books, as well as those sampling fantasy for the first time. Grades 3-6. --Francisca Goldsmith