By John Coyne
Berkley Books, 342 pp, 1981
Hobgoblin, which harkens back to
the glory days of fantasy role-playing games that I and millions of other
teens played, is a quick, enjoyable suspense novel.
Scott Gardiner and his widowed mother
Barbara move to Flat Rock, New York. Barbara takes a job writing a history
of a castle owned by a now-dead Irish nobleman. Scott enrolls in the local
public high school, and immediately sticks out like a sore thumb. He wears
a coat and tie his first day, for which the students label him a preppie,
and it soon gets out that he loves a role-playing game called Hobgoblin.
That is when all the trouble starts,
although the real action is at Ballycastle, a sprawling mansion imported
from Ireland in the 1920s by Fergus O'Cuileannain. Fergus, though, seems
to have had a strange obsession with bull whips and beautiful teenage
girls, several of whom are buried in a nearby cemetery. And is Fergus
The novel has its implausible moments,
but overall, it's fun and semi-believable. A horror, fantasy, or Dungeons
and Dragons fan would enjoy it. Now out of print, you can buy a used
copy at Amazon or a secondhand bookstore (that's where I found it), or
check it out of your local library.