Goblin Secrets

Winner of the 2012 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature
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Rownie, the youngest in Graba the witchworker’s household of stray children, escapes and goes looking for his missing brother. Along the way he falls in with a troupe of theatrical goblins and learns the secret origins of masks. Now Graba’s birds are hunting him in the Southside of Zombay, the Lord Mayor’s guards are searching for him in Northside, and the River between them is getting angry. The city needs saving — and only the goblins know how.


With a sure hand, William Alexander here creates a wholly convincing world of mechanized soldiers, chicken-legged grandmothers, sentient rivers, and goblin actors. In that uncertain landscape, young Rownie learns the mysterious craft of masking to search for both his brother and his own story, unaware that the solution to these searches may be the salvation of his city. Alexander’s world is one of possessiveness—and true love—brilliantly revealing our own selves by holding up our masks.
– Citation by the Judges of the National Book Award

“It was hard to stop reading Goblin Secrets, and I didn’t want the book to end! The author’s imagination is both huge and original, taking us to a truly new place, rich with lively, vivid scenes, fascinating people, and marvelous inventions. He doesn’t explain things, yet everything is clear. And he tells his fast-paced story in language that’s a pleasure in itself — subtle, tricky, funny, beautiful. More, please, Will Alexander!”
– Ursula K. Le Guin, author of A Wizard of Earthsea

“Goblin Secrets is a knockout. It’s an original, owing absolutely nothing to Tolkien, or to any of his descendants, disciples or imitators. As a lifelong sucker for theatre and books about theatre, I don’t know a fantasy novel that’s used performing and maskmaking in just that way.”
– Peter S. Beagle, author of The Last Unicorn

“Alexander’s world, blending steampunk and witchy magic, is impressively convincing and evocative in its oddities. Though highly textured, it’s tightly woven and reassuringly seamless. The result is wryly humorous and bearably yet excitingly menacing: Even while much is left unexplained, Rownie’s triumph is both gripping and tantalizing.”
– Kirkus, Starred Review

“Goblin Secrets is a clockwork gem of a book. I became deeply enmeshed in the gears of Rownie’s story, and found such delight in wandering the strange, twisty, mysterious streets of Zombay.”
– Sarah Prineas, author of The Magic Thief

“Goblin Secrets includes all my favorite things: mystery, magic, and plenty of thrills, a goblin theatrical troupe, a beautifully realized fantasy world, and an orphan boy searching for his lost brother.”
– Delia Sherman, author of The Freedom Maze

“There are books that make you feel good for having read them. Not virtuous or well-behaved, but good. More whole-hearted, more brave, more likely to look at a stranger and see the fine face beneath the mask of their unfamiliarity. Goblin Secrets, William Alexander’s debut novel, is just such a book… It is also unusual, unsettling, and written with a very spirited grace.”
– Fantasy Matters


Signed and personalized copies of Goblin Secrets are available from Bear Pond Books.

Unsigned copies can be purchased in all the usual ways from IndieBound, Powell’s, Barnes & Noble, and Amazon.


Ghoulish Song

Finalist for the 2014 Mythopoeic Award 

The last day of Kaile’s life does not start well.

It’s Inspection Day at her family’s bakery, and between her mother’s temper, her little brother’s antics, and her job serving breakfast to the demanding citizens of Zombay, she could use a break. Then a goblin theatre troupe offers to put on a play for the customers. Kaile treasures the gift they give her–an innocuous little flute made of bone–and plays its haunting song without hesitation. That’s when her life officially ends, and her adventures begin.

Set alongside the National Book Award-winning Goblin Secrets, Ghoulish Song weaves a story of music and mystery through the charmed, cursed world of Zombay.


“In Ghoulish Song, William Alexander returns us to the fascinatingly sinister world of Zombay. As with his previous novel, Goblin Secrets, Alexander’s work is startlingly original, simultaneously funny and suspenseful.”
– Peter S. Beagle, author of The Last Unicorn

“William Alexander is a wonderful talent whose breadth of vision and sense of theatricality, sly wit, and wicked whimsy have charmed and enthralled me since I first set eyes on his work.”
Catherynne M. Valente, author of The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making

“Will Alexander’s books are a secret pleasure that are now revealed to the world. Funny, smart, and gorgeously written without sacrificing an ounce of forward-moving plot, they are both a pleasure and instructive. When I grow up, I want to be Will.”
– Jane Yolen, author of The Pit Dragon Chronicles

“There is magic in almost every aspect of Alexander’s world, including the sinister sentience of the river and the bones of the drowned, and his graceful prose weaves an engaging fantasy that embraces the power of music.”
– Publishers Weekly


Signed and personalized copies of Ghoulish Song are available from Bear Pond Books.

Unsigned copies can be purchased in all the usual ways from IndieBound, Powell’s, Barnes & Noble, and Amazon.