The Hollow Kingdom by Clare B. Dunkle has long been a favorite of mine, so I turned to it when I was in the mood for a reread.
strong-willed Kate and her little sister Emily return to their
ancestral home after their father's death, they are greeted by two
fluttery aunts and a surly cousin who feels that he, not the girls, has a
right to the property. Their cousin's antagonism is soon the least of
their worries, though. One evening the sisters get lost on the paths and
back roads around the estate, and they meet a strange little company.
When one of them, Mr. Marak, offers them an escort home, Em is glad to
accept -- but Kate is more cautious. Something in her warns her to keep
her distance from this odd but charming stranger. Through a series of
fantastical events, Marak reveals to Kate that he is the Goblin King,
and she is his chosen bride. Kate is determined never to go with the
goblins. She dreads the thought of living in their dank underground
halls, never being able to feel the wind or see the stars. When Emily is
in danger, however, Kate makes a bargain with the Goblin King. Will she
regret it -- or will she find that life with the goblins is not at all
what she expected?
This story has its faults, it's true (I should
probably detest the goblin method of finding brides), but I love it all
the same. Marak is a great character with a wicked sense of humor, and
Charm (who has no sense of humor at all) is also a favorite of mine.
Some readers complain of pacing problems in the book, but the flow of
the story has never bothered me. I definitely recommend this to fantasy
(Reviewed from my personally purchased copy.)