(Full disclosure: I met Jaq Hawkins on the Genre Underground Goodreads group. We exchanged reviews on Wake of the Dragon and Sorcerer’s Code. Based on that interaction, I went on to read Dance of the Goblins and she to Sorcerer’s Crime.)
Dance of the Goblins is a delightful, charming story set in a world which is simultaneously familiar and alien. It is an exploration of the society of the goblins, who live beneath the surface of the world in harmony, while humans live above. The core of the story is about Anton, a human; Haghuf, a goblin elder; and Talla, a young goblin woman who ends up trapped in the world above when the humans unwittingly discover an entrance to the goblins’ realm.
This story is not adventure fantasy. It reads more like a fairy tale, a light-hearted and optimistic fantasy tale showing us what life would be like if we lived alongside a race of creatures like the goblins. The world-building is wonderful, the prose fulfills its purpose with style and grace, and though the actual plot is a little slower than I usually like, the fairy-tale feeling makes that seem unimportant.
Overall, it was a very pleasant and satisfying read, with a few genuine surprises of world-building and character. Definitely recommended if you love fairy-tale fantasy.