Cover Image: A Market of Dreams and Destiny

A Market of Dreams and Destiny

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The Goblin Market but gay? Oh yes - what a read. A great premise blended with gay romance and elements of magical fantasy - just my cup of tea

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Gay date night at the Goblin Market anyone?
I absolutely adored this tale. Brimming with bargains and devilish deals, A Market of Dreams and Destiny is a veritable feast of words that left me ringing like the bells.

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Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for granting me free access to the advanced digital copy of this book.

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I think it’s time we all agree to throw in the collective towel on trying to turn The Goblin Market into a fantasy novel. Authors keep trying this, and it just never works.

The tone of this was appealing to me, and the story itself isn’t bad, though it’s pretty lacking in evocative setting and sense of place for a book that is essentially meant to be built on those attributes. And no, it definitely did not remind me of The Night Circus.

Dark markets or undermarkets aren’t an unusual concept in Fantasy, even if we ignore the Christina Rossetti of it all. It’s a tough concept to get right, but there are plenty of books that manage it. Here the concept behind it works pretty well, but the immersive quality isn’t there, and that’s probably the most important part.

I didn’t mind the characters, though they aren’t especially unusual or complex. In all, it’s a fine read that’s entertaining enough and notably well written, but ultimately pretty forgettable.

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I was immediately drawn to this between the cover and the goblin market premise, but this book is based on(?) author’s interactive fantasy novel, or at least it felt like it and the style of writing made it harder for me to stay interested. Purely a case of the wrong reader for this book.

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Deri, an indentured servant in the Goblin Market, is trying to conduct enough of his own dealings (without his mysterer, Maurlocke, knowing) to buy himself out of his contract. He dreams of getting his own stall in the market, as well, becoming a true merchant, since the Goblin Market is the only life he’s ever known. Two chance meetings set him on a new path: first, he encounters Owain, a mortal also locked in an indentured contract—to unscrupulous human merchants in the above world; second, he meets the princess of an alternate Victorian England, and persuades her to sell her destiny for one that’s more her own liking.

But while the destiny of the heir to the throne is by far the most valuable thing Deri’s ever managed to acquire, it’s impossible to sell, especially when he has to keep it secret from Maurlocke. He’s given three tasks that will put him back on course—one of which throws him back into Owain’s path, and gives Deri pause. How could he get rid of not just his own contract, but those of Owain and his friends as well? Plans beget plans in a whirl of wheeling and dealing, populated by a cast of characters that include Aurelia, a lady knight searching for the runaway princess; Silvestra, an alchemist who has a preternatural gift for spotting flaws; Vimukti, a firebrand indentured servant willing to make her own deals for the cause; and the Graspars, a pair of Dickensian villains who run the workhouse. While there are some darker themes here—indentured servitude is certainly not a lighthearted theme—the sweet growing romance between Deri and Owain, and the overarching plot to take down a system of abuse, will leave readers with a glow of feel-good hopefulness. If you liked Neil Gaiman’s Stardust, this is a solid pick for your evening read.

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A Market of Dreams of Destiny is a book that will transport you to a magical and dangerous place; one where the danger is in logic, deception, and the most horrifying thing of all - contract law. Bundle this quirky and deceptive world with a wonderfully adorable cute queer romance, and you have a book that is nearing perfection.

A Market of Dreams of Destiny follows our main character, Deri, as he works to earn enough money to buy himself of his indentured servitude to ruthless and wily master. Deri is a human but was raised in the Goblin Market, a place of trading, barganining, and decieving around the exchange of magical intangibles (think trading your "Destiny", "True Love", and things like that!). It through his responsibilities to his master that Deri meets Owain, another indentured servant to a wicked mother/son due who have children working on a mysterious and powerful machine.

There is so much to fall immediately in love with in this book. The magic system is brilliant as it is rooted in who can outthink everyone else. This makes the book a battle of the minds rather than brute physical strength, which was refreshing in a genre that tends to value military might over anything else. Here the battles don't happen on a battlefield, but rather in contract negotiations as our characters all try to pull a fast one on each other. I can see how this can immediately turn some readers off. All of the characters in this book are clever bordering on smarmy, and everyone is a brilliant mental tactician. If you don't like books where every character is pretty much a master at their craft, you might bounce off this one. For me, it really worked. I loved getting to follow the bread crums that Galey was dropping; I reveled in getting to try and figure out how all of the pieces would come together for one great legal deception - one that contains no lies (because you cannot lie in the Goblin Market!) but exploits and manipulates loopholes at every pass.

In fact, the only part of this aspect of the book that didn't work for me was the awkward integration of "big words". Every once in a while the author would choose an SAT word that took me out of the book because it happened so infrequently that I was jarred by it. Nothing major, but if that is something you absolutely loathe in your books, just know that it happens here.

The emotional core to this book is the gay romance between Deri and Owain. It is a fictional romance, so expect feelings to develop VERY quickly, but it is otherwise an endearing and adorable relationship. I commend Galey on not making the romance the source of tension in the book. Yes, the romance does intersect quite heavily in the main plot as Deri and Owain's enemies seek to exploit percieved weaknesses they can, but Deri and Owain are never at odds with each other. This is a healthy relationship, and the romance is never threatened by genre-tropes like misunderstood intents, love triangles, and more. This is a romance that you can root for, and you'll never roll your eyes at any of the developments (that is unless you have a heart made entirely of ice!).

Another aspect of this book that I really liked is how the plot MOVED. I hear this book getting comped to The NIght Circus a lot, but I didn't feel too much connection between the books. Yes, The Goblin Market has a particular kind of vibe that the Night Circus had, but there is much more plot here than in that other book. The characters have clear goals and stakes, and the logic-bending magic keeps things moving along at a nice clip, especially for readers who enjoy witty logic puzzles. I especially appreaciated that the plot is relatively contained here. There are rumblings of a much bigger world here, but the story never spirals out of control. This book is about a core romance, and nothing else.

This is not a perfect book, and there were times when we seemed to jump around a bit much. The worldbuilding also wasn't always as clearly established as I would have liked. There is a long history between the magical world of The Goblin Market and the human world (especially this book's version of an AU British Royal Family) that is barely touched upon and could easily have had more development. Overall these were minor concerns except when it came to the mother/son duo who are enslaving Owain and the other young people. I could never get a clear sense of place with this aspect of the storyline. Were they in the human world? How much do people actually know about the magical world? How easy was it to move from the human world to the magical world? I always felt oft-kilter with this part of the plot because I wasn't told enough information.

In many ways this meant that I was more vibing with the worldbuilding than fully immersed in it. The Goblin Market was a feeling that dug into my brain rather than being a place that I felt I could fully picture in my mind. I completely understand why the author wanted to move in this direction. The Goblin Market is such an interesting place because it feels like it is held at arm's reach from the reader. It's mysteries and magic come from not being over-described or over-understood. However, just a touch more depth would have helped complete my reading experience. The author has mentioned that he is working on additional books in this world, and I really hope that we get more detail in future books!

Concluding Thoughts: Step into the world of The Goblin Market, a place where your every word can we used against you. It is a realm of logic puzzles, contract law, and unsettling horrors. Galey uses this world to full effect, crafting a book that is simultaneously clever, funny, tense, and relaxing. The gay romance fully resonates as an emotioanl core to the book, surrounded by the characters trying to outwit and outdecieve one another as they try to identify and exploit contractual loopholes. The book is a whole vibe, but with a plot that barrels forward and keeps you turning the pages. Whether you like queer romance, clever humor, or intense logic puzzles, this is a book worth picking up!

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The Untermarkt is a magical place, where anything and everything has a price: a moth of honest, a wisp of fortune, a promsing destiny. Deri was sold to the one of the Market's most powerful merchants as a child and after years of waiting and plotting has spotted his chance to buy his freedom and earn a place among the Market's elite - all because of a runaway princess and the royal destiny she's desperate to sell. But with Royal enforcers and Master Merchants after his prize asll, Deri must outmaneoveur them all, a task made more difficult by his meeting with the love of his life. Now he has to decide, make a name for himself, or save the man he loves...

There are a lot of povs in this one - probably a few too many if I'm honest because it got chaotic in places and it was hard to keep track of everyone. I wish the plot had focused solely on Deri and Owain, his love interest.

I did really like the atmosphere and the setting however, it had a lovely whimsical vibe to it but with an undertone of trickery that I adored - you could never tell who was telling the truth and who was out to deceive. It was really a joy to read and the author did a good job portraying that not everything was as it seemed.

All in all a sweet read and I'll be interested to see what Trip Galey pens next!

Many thanks to the publishers and Netgalley for an arc.

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I was provided with a digital ARC from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I really loved the premise of this -- a hidden goblin market under London where you can get whatever you desire, as long as you have something of the same value to trade for it. The problem for me was that most of these characters were underdeveloped, and the narrative pacing was jumpy, which just made me struggle with the flow of the story. I wanted to like this a lot more than I did.

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This is a beautiful book that had me hooked, it reminded me of books like the night circus.

The characters where extremely likeable and you couldn't help but route for them.

I loved the romance aspect as well and glad that it was present but didn't dominate the plot.

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What I love most about Fae books is how creative they are. Market of Dreams and Destiny was no exception to this. I loved the picture of an alternate Victorian London with magic and deals built into every part of the society. My favourite bit was the bells, which one of the main characters, Deri, can talk to.

The climax of this book was complicated. With the plot revolving around deals and loopholes exploited, there was a lot of information to pay attention to. It was hard to follow in some places, but I kept up mostly. There was only one part where I got lost and that part I managed to pick up again by the end. Just be warned that this is a book you need to really pay attention to.

I really really enjoyed this interpretation of the goblin market. As complicated as it was, I haven't seen anyone go this detailed into thinking how it would work or what it would be like before. I have to say this is definitely going on my list of must reads for fae enthusiasts.

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There needed to be less characters in here, or at the very least, less characters with a POV, because it felt so busy and chaotic, and I could not keep track of who everybody was or their motivations or anything. I also struggled to distinguish between the two main characters, Deri and Owain, as they read very similarly; Deri was more of a main character than Owain too, and Deri was frustrating - I didn't like a lot of the choices he made so I found it difficult to read from his perspective.

I did really like the setting however; I haven't read a lot of books set in the goblin market and I always enjoy the setting when I do - there's something about the trickery and deceit that is just fascinating to read, and I loved this author's take on it. The worldbuilding was pretty good, and I loved how there were all of these different languages and sentient objects that just added that touch of whimsy.

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I usually like historical fantasy, but I couldn’t get into this one and gave up about a third of the way through. The setting of the market was fascinating but the rest of it didn’t come together for me. I’m sure it will find its audience and unfortunately that audience is not me.

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Thank you very much for the opportunity to read this book early! I really enjoyed it. I thought the writing was very well done, and the story kept me interested. I believe my students/patrons would also love this book and will be acquiring it for the library!

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the perfect autumnal read. What a fantastic debut from Trip Galey! Loved the world, the dialogue and the romance! More please!

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This is a fascinating portrayal of the infamous goblin market, there is a very in-depth magical and 'trade' system that encompasses the whole novel (it can be a little hard to keep up at times because there is SO much) and it's clear a lot of thought has been put into the world building.

The meld of fantasy and historical fiction is good and works well for the setting. It is an interesting premise and read but I didn't love it. It took a long time for me to finish this and I'm unsure if the pacing or the characters were my biggest issues. I just didn't like Deri and struggled to empathize with him for the majority of the book. I liked Owain but felt like he was honestly more of a side character, the onus was always on Deri, and Owain was just constantly reacting to Deri's moves and Deri's perception of himself was... eh.

Overall this was a unique concept and had a lot going for it but it just didn't wow me.

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One Sentence Summary: Deri dreams of squirreling away enough wealth to buy his freedom from a Goblin Market merchant, but that’s complicated when he comes into the possession of a royal destiny and meets the love of his life.

Historical fiction has always been hit or miss for me, but I’ve found myself enjoying historical fantasy more often, or at least more willing to give it a try. A Market of Dreams and Destiny is set in 19th century London, where a queen rules and children work in factories, where children are sold and indentured, and some even end up working for one of the merchants of the underground and very magical Goblin Market. Deri is one such young man. Indentured to one of the Market’s Master Merchants for most of his life, he’s learned most of the ins and outs and has his heart set on buying his freedom and setting up shop as one of the extremely few human merchants in the Market. But all that changes thanks to two events: 1) he meets a princess who wants to sell her destiny, and Deri foolishly thinks he can take possession of such a prize and sell it and 2) he meets Owain, a young man indentured above in a workhouse with deplorable work conditions and even worse mistress. Unwittingly, Deri ends up tangled in keeping his master from discovering it is he who holds the princess’s destiny, outrunning the princess’s protector who is searching for both princess and destiny, and losing his heart to the love of his life even as Owain’s mistress would use him and the other children for nefarious purposes.

A Market of Dreams and Destiny starts out so strongly. I adored wandering around the Goblin Market with Deri, and absolutely loved how all the bargaining and purchasing went, even if I thought it meandered around a little too long. I was often a little lost when it came to what was being bought and sold, but I still loved the way it operated. The Market felt like a character in itself, and I really enjoyed meeting all the merchants and the cat. Deri was so much fun to follow around. A human who was raised around the merchants and goblins, I imagine his childhood must have been fascinatingly strange, but he has a bit of a carefree attitude and a joyfulness about him as he does his work in the Market. Sometimes he felt a little too eager and carefree for such a setting, but he definitely showed himself to be very smart despite being fallible now and then. It was really this time in the Market that I loved the most. It was magical and different. I wasn’t as much a fan as London itself. There was nothing wrong with it, really, and I liked the bits of magic placed here and there, but, as a mother, reading about indentured children who endured terrible things just wasn’t easy. I also got the feeling things should have been a lot more restrictive, and yet Owain slipped away so often and got away with more than I felt he should have, so the stakes never really felt as high as they should have.

Deri and Owain were absolutely lovely characters, though, and their romance was very sweet, if a bit swift moving. I liked Deri, and I appreciated his ambition. He was always looking towards his future and what he wanted, even when it became a bit complicated. He’s sharp, but could definitely make mistakes. But I think my favorite part of him was how he spoke the Language of Bells. At first, I wasn’t quite sure what it meant, but I can’t help but giggle a little at thinking of how Deri speaks to the bells. Anyways, I really love how all in Deri is about everything he does. He’s truly committed and very much a master planner. Even if I felt the end was a bit too long, I really had to hand it to him for being so thorough and such a quick thinker. Owain, in contrast, didn’t actually feel as fleshed out as Deri. He was sweet and thoughtful and certainly cared about the people around him, but I actually found it a little difficult to get to know him apart from Deri. I did like him, but he definitely felt more secondary to Deri. Their romance was sweet, and I really enjoyed it in the second half. In the beginning, though, I felt it moved a little too swiftly and they were far too intimate too early after limited meetings. Outside of that, though, I loved the lengths they went to for each other and definitely felt all the love and care they felt for each other by the end.

What I wasn’t so much a fan of was actually the princess’s destiny part. Deri definitely didn’t think that through all the way, so ended up in a bit of a tangled web. I didn’t quite mind how he dealt with it and the bargain he made in order to get rid of it and get what he wanted, but it was the part with the princess’s protector hunting down the princess that felt a little too thrown in for me. Aurelia made for an interesting protector, and I was intrigued by her sister, but she just felt too stiff for me. There was no give to her so the story felt a little too straightforward despite how crazy the Goblin Market sounded. I liked how Deri and his master were able to outwit her, but I also felt she walked into it a little too easily. It would have been fun if she’d taken some time to learn about the Market and played her own games with them. That probably would have been a it of madness, but I think it would have been fun chaos.

Then there’s the part about the indentured children and Owain’s mistress and her son wanting to use the children for experiments. There’s a good bit of economics and workers’ rights mixed in, which were interesting and perhaps had some historical accuracy in there, but I just didn’t feel invested in that part. It was terrible what was happening to the children, but, since we don’t really get to know a lot of them, it also felt a little bit removed, like these terrible things are happening, but it’s not necessarily happening to the main characters, so everything’s okay. Along with everything else going on in the novel, sometimes it felt a little unnecessary and sometimes I thought it was going on for a bit too long. It was a little disappointing to shift from this fantastic Goblin Market into things that, well, still occur, just in different ways. There was definitely some strong messaging going on in the second half that I could have done without, and that felt a little too different from the first half of the book.

The ending, too, wasn’t exactly something I loved. It was a bit of a letdown because the story with Jack Trades and Deri wasn’t resolved to my satisfaction and it made the romance really come to the forefront. I didn’t mind the romance, but I also felt like this book was more than just the romance, so I didn’t feel like I got the ending I really wanted for everything that had happened and how it had started. It felt like this book was just a vehicle for the romance and some workers’ rights messaging, and I was really invested in more than just that.

A Market of Dreams and Destiny was a fun read full of bargaining and magic. I won’t pretend to fully understand everything that happened in the market or how it all even worked, but it was really a ton of fun to visit and I’d happily try to visit on my own if it existed. The characters’ time in the market was definitely my favorite part, and, while I was lost, I loved being lost. The romance was sweet, but sometimes I felt the pace was a little all over the place, racing forward at times before halting to what kind of felt like a holding pattern. Otherwise this was a really fun book that had me wishing such a magical place was real.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for a review copy. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Thought the whole Undermarkt aspect was really interesting, but the magic and all the trickery got confusing at times.

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Trip Galey creates a fantastical and Victorian steampunk-esque alternate world in A Market of Dreams and Destiny. The story follows the tale of Deri and his friends. Deri is an indentured servant and assistant to a cold, calculating, and ruthless master merchant and must navigate his way to freedom for himself and those that he loves. A Market of Dreams and Destiny is a truly thrilling, wondrous, and captivating story that has a very well-developed alternate reality, magical and political system, intrigue, and character development. I spent my entire time routing for Deri, Owain, and Vimukti and I loved the story from beginning to end. The story has a wonderful and beautiful romance element and I truly wish there was more because I loved this world and story. I wholeheartedly recommend this book with 5 stars!

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for an ARC!

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A MARKET OF DREAMS AND DESTINY is such a fun read! It has fairy lore, an alternate Victorian London, and the most charming character in Deri. An indentured servant who wants to buy his way out and become a merchant in the Untermarket, Bargains, love, and a HEA made this for an enjoyable trip to a fantastical land.

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