Mighty Jack and the Goblin King by Ben Hatke

I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for reviewing it. Let me say before I go any farther, that you are going to want to preorder your copy for September 5, 2017. If you haven't read the first in the series, Mighty Jack, you better order it too. You don't have to take my word for it, eight year old Payton, who read my digital copy while we were camping, was mesmerized by the story and is now hooked on graphic novels.

In this sequel to Ben Hatke's Mighty Jack, the illustrations once again explode with rich colours and magnificent depictions of other worlds. Readers are guaranteed to spend hours immersed in the splendour of these details.

Spoiler alert here! If you haven't read the first book, you might want to skip this next bit.

The story begins where Mighty Jack ends, with Jack and Lily chasing after the ogre who has taken Jack's sister, Maddy. Jack's emotional state impairs his ability to think clearly. He's impervious to Lily's attempts to talk sense to him. Soon Jack leaps into a fight with a larger and more powerful foe and Lily saves him, but at great cost to herself. Still nothing can impress caution in Jack, and undaunted, he continues on. Lily follows him.

As the two of them cross a rotting vine bridge, they are attacked and separated. From this point on, in a series of one action packed scene after another, the story alternates between their separate adventures.

Before Jack can reach them, the ogre takes Maddy into what seems to be an impenetrable fortress. Responding to a cry for help, Jack helps an old goblin, Jerry, make his way back into the pipes on the outside of the building. This good deed is rewarded when Jerry and his friend Tig show Jack how to climb up the pipes to get into the fortress. 

Meanwhile, Lily is in serious trouble. If rats didn't terrify you before, they probably will now.

Luckily she is rescued from her battle with the rats by a group of goblins who treat her with goblin medicine. I adore the energy, charm, and language of these goblins. They remind me of Skarper in Philip Reeve's Goblin series. From the goblins Lily learns that they are at a Nexus Point, "a place of connection between several worlds." This place and other worlds have been taken over by giants and rats.  

Just as Jack is about to leap in to rescue Maddy, and probably kill himself in the process, Phelix, Maddy's dragon friend saves him from his foolhardy attempt. They come up with a plan. Phelix will wait on the top of the fortress for them and fly them to safety once Jack has freed Maddy. Once inside, Jack discovers that Maddy is to be fed to 'the beast.' It's here that we make a connection to the original Jack In The Beanstalk tale, when the ogre states that the beast will, "boil her blood and grind her bones."

It looks like Lily has landed in clover until it is revealed that she is expected to be the bride of the Goblin King. Rather than marry the him, Lily challenges him to single combat. 

There is much in this book that enthralled me. Humour makes it's appearance in many of these scenes with the goblins, such as where where, 'the Majestic Goblin Hideaway' is a sewer, and when the Goblin King asks his followers, "Is make me look fat?"

This is a satisfying read with even a bit of romance. I finally got some of my questions answered about the man who sold those beans to Jack in the first place. It doesn't seem to be a big deal in the book, but I was excited that Maddy started to talk and eventually spoke Lily's name. The title is a delightful surprise. I love that Lily is set out on her own trajectory that will include the other children, but she sure isn't following Jack anymore.

I was not expecting this ending, and am now waiting for the next book in the series. It's full of promise of more adventures to come. The worst thing about finishing this book is that the next one isn't ready yet.

I hate to wait.

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