Friday, January 27, 2017

Book Review: Wintersong

Title: Wintersong (Wintersong #2)
Author: S. Jae-Jones
Genre: Young Adult | Fantasy | Retelling 
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Publication Date: February 7, 2017
Source: Publisher
Format: eARC
Beware the goblin men and the wares they sell.
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 (goodreads).

 

Wintersong is a lyrical book that makes it impossible to consider putting it down. With a little more direction, this would have been a perfect book!
Plot: From the first pages, I was drawn into Jones' world. She is clearly a talented author and I found it easy to devour all 450 pages. While the synopsis compares Wintersong to the cult classic, The Labyrinth, I didn't find that to be a fair comparison. Sure, Jones writes about goblins and brave girls who venture to the underground, but that's where all similarities end. Even our goblin king has little resemblance to David Bowie's. I'm happy that Wintersong was able to present itself as an original take on the goblin lore, but I couldn't help the nagging feeling that this novel was missing something. Wintersong is a beautiful novel but doesn't ever reach a climax. Our main character, Liesl, finds herself in plenty tricky situations but easily navigates her way through each perilous situation without the reader every feeling that she was in danger. I understand that a sequel is in the works so I'm hoping that the second novel will deliver the satisfactory conclusion that I've been anticipating. 


Characters: I couldn't get enough of Liesl as soon as I was introduced to her. Liesl has a complicated life; she is the oldest of her struggling family, and while she can compose masterpieces with very little effort, she is overlooked because she is a woman. And to boot, her younger sister, the beauty of the family, is engaged to the boy she secretly harbored feelings for. Liesl's journey to the Underground was more of a journey to discover herself and find her own sense of freedom. While I questioned some of her irrational actions, I couldn't fault her for living for herself finally. 

Now for the character you've all be wondering about: The Goblin King. He is still as much as a mystery as he was when I first cracked open this book. There are bits of pieces given about the Goblin King's past, but honestly, it only managed to confuse me more. I expect to learn more about the Goblin King in the second novel because he was not fully realized in Wintersong. 

Worldbuilding: Jones' interest in German culture and language is evident in Wintersong, and much appreciated. Jones includes the sort of details that help you lose yourself in a fantasy world and appreciate the source of the lore. Fascinatingly enough, I found the Above Ground world to be more fleshed out than the Underground - a realm Liesl spent half the novel inhabiting.

Short N Sweet: Wintersong is an impressive debut novel; however, it does not feel complete despite its lengthy size.  

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