I have just got my hands on the sequel so I thought it would be a good time to post my review of Wintersong. I am listening to the Wintersong playlist that S Jae-Jones shared on Twitter a little while ago and it’s snowing outside, so I am feeling like I am right there in the book.
I am going to start off with a confession… Wintersong literally broke my heart, so you have been warned, read it at your own peril – you will fall in love with this book.
All links marked with * are Affiliate Links, please see my Disclosure page for more information.
Author: S Jae-Jones
Blurb: All her life, nineteen-year-old Liesl has heard tales of the beautiful, mysterious Goblin King. He is the Lord of Mischief, the Ruler Underground, and the muse around which her music is composed. Yet, as Liesl helps shoulder the burden of running her family’s inn, her dreams of composition and childish fancies about the Goblin King must be set aside in favor of more practical concerns.
But when her sister Käthe is taken by the goblins, Liesl journeys to their realm to rescue her sister and return her to the world above. The Goblin King agrees to let Käthe go—for a price. The life of a maiden must be given to the land, in accordance with the old laws. A life for a life, he says. Without sacrifice, nothing good can grow. Without death, there can be no rebirth. In exchange for her sister’s freedom, Liesl offers her hand in marriage to the Goblin King. He accepts.
Down in the Underground, Liesl discovers that the Goblin King still inspires her—musically, physically, emotionally. Yet even as her talent blossoms, Liesl’s life is slowly fading away, the price she paid for becoming the Goblin King’s bride. As the two of them grow closer, they must learn just what it is they are each willing to sacrifice: her life, her music, or the end of the world.
Categories: Fantasy, Romance, Retellings, YA,
Rating: 5/5 stars
Review: So now that I have got the confession out of the way I can start by telling you that I could not put Wintersong down once I started reading it, it is so enchanting. I just felt this compulsion to read more. I needed to know what happened next. Wintersong was literally attached to me until I had finished it, I could not sleep without knowing the ending, and then I could not sleep once I knew the ending!
S Jae-Jones has said that Wintersong was inspired by the movie Labyrinth, among other things, and as I adore that movie I just had to read this book. It was not only it’s inspiriation that drew me to this book but I fell completely in love with the blurb. As you can see from the blurb, the story follows Liesl trying to save her sister Kathe and then herself from The Goblin King. I feel that although the movie Labyrinth was dark, Wintersong is darker and more compelling. It is a dark, magical romance. Now, I don’t read a lot of books where romance is the main focus but I couldn’t resist reading this one. It is as beautiful as it is sinister. I fell in love with The Goblin King and Liesl and right from the opening lines I felt myself totally invested in their story.
The relationship that develops between Liesl and The Goblin King is bewitching, so much so that when when S Jae-Jones released some annotations to accompany Wintersong I had to have them! It was wonderful to add even more more depth to an already a rich and inviting story. I love the way that the two main characters bring out different things in each other, that they change, that they are wicked, wrong, selfish, selfless and passionate.
The goblins, and their King are as wicked as I had hoped. In fact everyone is wicked in some way in the book, just like life. None of us are good all the time… no one is perfect. There was something which was delightful in reading the fairy tale mixed with such darkness, it was reminiscent of older, darker fairy tales and I enjoyed every single page.
In additon to the romance and the fairy tales, there is a strong musical theme woven in to the book. Liesl and most of her family have some musical talent. For me, this adds intensity to the story and really helps draw you in that little bit further, just like the characters you are pulled along on the wave of emotion that their music and the book creates. (Which is why I am so delighted to be listening to the Wintersong soundtrack in the authors mind as I type this!)
S Jae-Jones has created a truly magical world, filled with fairy tales and dark desires. And I found that reading it, brought to light a lot of questions about what we feel we should do verses what we want to do. Liesl is torn by the events of Wintersong and it’s really hard, in fact it was impossible for me, not to be fractured too. I did not lie when I said that Wintersong broke my heart.
I also want to mention in this review, that I think it’s incredible that S Jae-Jones has drawn on her own experience of Bipolar Disorder in the crafting of Liesl. It really adds depth to that duality Liesl feels and you can feel it as you read Wintersong. I think it’s so important that we discuss mental health in books, fantasy books included. As we are growing up (and even as adults) we need a safe space to explore our issues and our struggles. And mental health issues are a vital part of that. I know that as a teenager, I would have loved to have read a fantasy book in which there were characters struggling with the depression and anxiety, both of which have been part of my life since my early teenage years. Seeing yourself in a story is a truly magical thing, seeing the parts you might want to hide from the world, and even yourself, in a story is even better.
The worldbuilding was incredible in *Wintersong both above ground and in the Underground. In the Underground I felt trapped and I felt a distinct sense of wrongness, which I couldn’t shake. And yet I didn’t want to leave – some part of me wanted to stay there. And I can’t wait to return when I start reading *Shadowsong!
The characters were all so wonderful and flawed and real, not just Liesl and the Goblin King but her family too. I loved the relationship between Liesl and Kathe, the dynamic between them was an interesting read and I felt that they really highlighted each others flaws and idiosyncrasies so well. I have a soft spot for Liesl’s grandmother too.
I have to say, I think Wintersong is one of the most beautifully written books I have ever read. It’s incredible the connection I felt to the characters and how deeply I loved the story. It’s one of those books that’s going to stay with me forever.
Love the sound on the wonderfully dark and enchanting Wintersong? Why not pin my review for later?