Freya’s Bower, $4.75, ISBN 1-934069-35-3
Fantasy Romance, 2006
Making me go, “Eh? Am I missing something, like the prequel?” is probably not a good idea, especially when the hero and the heroine apparently base their grand love on events in the past that are only alluded to in this book.
In Canice Brown-Porter’s The Goblin, the Witch, and the Single Girl, our heroine moves into a big Victorian-style house that looks exactly like the haunted house in a movie such as The Amityville Horror vs Poltergeist: Final Deathmatch. Caitlin, last name unknown, moves to a quiet village called Rouses Point to escape the memories of losing her parents to 9/11. I know, I know, the 9/11 thing feels somewhat gratuitous and even exploitative but hey, I didn’t write this story so don’t look at me like that. At any rate, Caitlin will soon find herself in a bizarre love triangle of sorts between her, a hunk trapped in goblin form named Niles (not to be confused with that closeted milquetoast from Frasier), and a witch named Vinzella who dehunked and goblinized Niles.
The problem here is that Niles apparently know Caitlin from her association with his sister. This association is mentioned several times by Niles in the early chapters and becomes a big dramatic reason to justify Caitlin’s abrupt falling in love with Niles. However, there is no flashback scene, no exposition, nothing in this story to help me understand what exactly is the nature of the association between the heroine and the hero’s sister. All I know is that Caitlin thought that Nile’s sister, Faelynn, was a childhood make-believe friend and she had seen Niles once or twice as some hot fae warrior, but if the author expects me to buy that Caitlin can find true love with a childhood fantasy… well, I don’t think so. It gets even more bizarre when Caitlin breaks up with a perfectly fine boyfriend Wesley to escape her past (the whole 9/11 thing is too traumatic, you see) but she has no problems announcing that she’s in love with a childhood fantasy friend’s fantasy brother. I suspect a shrink will have a field day with Caitlin.
The main characters rush into love too quickly to be believable and I cannot help wondering whether it’s really “true love” on Niles’ part – perhaps it is, since that creep has been waiting for her to grow up and turn legal – or he just wants her to love him so that he’ll lose his goblin appearance and become a hunk again.
I like the author’s voice and I suspect that I’ll be enjoying this story more if she makes it longer so that she can have more opportunity to flesh out the backstory of Niles and Caitlin. In its current length, The Goblin, the Witch, and the Single Girl sees Ms Brown-Porter trying to do way too much for her own good. The character of Vinzella, for example, can be removed to make room for some much-needed exposition or flashback scenes. A short story should be as simple as possible since there is only room for so much and there is just too much going on in here for the story to end in a satisfying manner.