In an inexcusably tardy sequel to Goblins in the Castle (1992), stakes escalate when old spells and new mischief collide, sending a giant stone toad bounding off with the previous episode’s protagonist in its mouth.
When a bit of incautious foolery with a book of spells leads to her friend William being carried away by the suddenly reanimated monument that gives Toad-in-a-Cage Castle its name, Fauna intrepidly hares off in pursuit. The chase takes her past diverting encounters with a particularly mercurial giant, an urbane troll, and others to the underground goblin city of Nilbog. She has the dubious help of a notably motley set of fellow rescuers, including an obnoxious ghost, the hunchbacked Igor (who clutches a weaponized teddy bear), and a brawny woman warrior with a speech impediment who introduces herself as “Bwoonhiwda.” Coville expertly stirs together moments of terror with goblin farts (“Oh, stop fussing. The smell ain’t gonna hurt you. At least, not much. You might lose a little skin, but it’ll grow back”) and like comical touches. He propels his tale to a climactic battle with a malign mage who threatens Nilbog’s very existence and then ties up all the plotlines both new and old with a neat round of counterspells, revelations, and just deserts.
A goblin salute (i.e., a finger up the nose) for this brisk and funny outing. (afterword) (Fantasy. 9-11)