The Secret History of Hobgoblins : Or the Liber Mysteriorum Domesticorum by Professor Ari Berk marks the third tome by this magister and scribe for the Order of the Golden Quills. If you have had the pleasure of reading the two that came before, The Secret History of Giants and The Secret History of Mermaids, then you know what gems these little books are. Like gorgeous Ology books published by Candlewick Press, the Secret History Series, while smaller in trim size, are packed with the same flaps to lift, books within books and letters to open and read and employ an amazing list of illustrators to help tell the tales. For The Secret History of Hobgoblins, Gary Chalk, co-creator of the fantastic Six Crowns series of chapter books, Alan Lee, Virginia Lee, Larry McDougal and Fernando Molinari lend their estimable talents.
Hobgoblins are a domestic sort, believing in hospitality and order above all else, however, as "modern life steers away from the qualities that govern hobgoblin culture," the Order of the Golden Quills is growing increasingly concerned for their way of life. While hobgoblins prefer to remain invisible, there are ways to see them. The most ancient way of seeing them is to look through a "hag stone," a flint stone with a hole naturally bored through it. Dawn and dusk, the "in-between" moments are also good times to catch a glimpse.
There is also a chapter on early evidence of hobgoblins in ancient times as well as the significance of clothes, their magic and meaning. There is a superb three-page foldout detailing the secret spaces that hobs like to hide in. There is also a chapter on the lore of the hearth, mostly concerning hob-blessed items. There are the keepers of the kitchens and the dwellers in the cellars and other hidden homes throughout the house.
A chapter on the wandering folk tells the story of Shakespeare's friend, Jack Kemp, who wrote Nine Days Wonder, a chronicle of a walk from London to Norwich. More interesting and lesser known is his Ninety Nights Wander, when he met the most famous of the "Wand'ring Folk," Jack O'Lanthorn, also known as Will-o'-the Wisp, above. White Dobbie, below, is another wanderer who sometimes takes the form of a man.
A chapter on hob spells and charms features the boggart, below. Blights and blessings are described, my favorite being the "sole-holes." Apparently these hidden spaces in homes are filled with footwear from many time periods, "borrowed" from humans and hidden to create a powerful spell. If the shoes remain undisturbed, the homeowners will always return safely from their journeys.
The Secret History of Giants The Secret History of Mermaids