The Goblin Child

The Goblin Child

by jezweb on March 19, 1999

‘THE GOBLIN CHILD’ (1999)
by LISBET DE CASTRO LOPO
ISBN 0 9577330 1 1

Lisbet de Castro Lopo, Danish born, and having retired early, in 1992, from two illustrious careers, one in cultural geography and another as a coordinator of translation services, at last had time and opportunity to embark on her career as a writer. She published stories, reviews and essays in a wide range of journals. Her first novel, A Family Affair, was published by Janus in Britain in 1995. She was the initial inspiration of Catchfire Press, and author of this, the second novel selected (anonymously) by its system. Her vigorous new career ended suddenly with her death in 2002.

The Goblin Child is the story of Vanessa, whose sheltered early life and warm acceptance as a teenage bride into a prosperous Italian-Australian family could not be expected to prepare her for the darker aspects of society. Newly widowed, this mother of five grown children finds herself curiously alien and vulnerable as she journeys alone along the north coast of New South Wales. Some of the peril she now senses had been lurking in the background of her happy marriage all along, but the menacing elements of humanity that gather around her and the shack she rents beneath Black Rock seem drawn to her peculiar innocence, her clarity of spirit—and she is as surely drawn to them. It starts with Mo, the streetwise pregnant teenager that she befriends, and the dangerously pliant Bradley is soon drawn in. But Neil, the shack’s owner, is at a different level of ferocity and attraction, perhaps of evil, from anything in Vanessa’s previous life. They say that opposites attract, but nothing can make them allies.

Neither Neil nor Vanessa are prepared for the tentacles of a big-city syndicate that reach out and touch the days in that idyllic cliff-top shack. Nor could they have anticipated the transformative power of the baby that is born there, that slides into Vanessa’s dismayed but capable hands like a destiny. Death and birth are opposites too… Sometimes heart-warming, always sharply observant, often challenging and occasionally deeply shocking, The Goblin Child may be described as a ‘mystery’, even as a ‘thriller’, but it is also touched with the more elusive, yet resilient, mystery of beauty, which we must not assume is alien to our everyday life.

The tropical yet Edenic cover is by the Hunter Valley artist and poet Jan Dean. The Goblin Child was launched by Greg Heys, then the Lord Mayor of Newcastle, in Newcastle City Hall in October 1998. The Sydney launching was by Professor Elizabeth Webby at the Sydney Writers’ Centre, in the same month.

245 pages r.r.p. $5.95

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