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"Write out of love, write out of instinct, write out of reason. But always for money."
Louis Untermeyer


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 really dead?

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.

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