Friday, February 3, 2017

Book Review: Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones

I received a free ecopy of this book from Thomas Dunne and Netgalley in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. 

Title: Wintersong
Author: S. Jae-Jones
Publisher: Thomas Dunne
Publication Date: February 7, 2017
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Retelling
Length: 448 pages
Format: ebook
Source: Netgalley

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 Kathe 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 Kathe 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. 

My Thoughts: 
When Liesl was a girl she would go to the Goblin Grove to dance and play with the Goblin King. She eventually grew up and stopped going, pushed those memories into a dark place in her mind, and went on with her life, forgetting all about it. But when her beautiful younger sister disappears, she knows exactly who took her and is determined to get her back. She is willing to give up her life, her family, and her music to return her sister. Even if it means becoming the Goblin King's bride. 

I was originally ecstatic about the idea of this book. I grew up watching The Labyrinth and fell in love with that movie. I never saw the Goblin King with a romantic interest but I can sort of see the appeal as an adult. I was a little disappointed to see that this isn't so much a retelling as it is an entirely new and different story with the Goblin King at the core. It is very loosely based on The Labyrinth in that it has a Goblin King as well as that a sibling is stolen and Liesl must play the King's games to get her back. 

Edit: I've only just learned that Wintersong is a retelling of the poem, 'The Goblin Market' by Christina Rossetti which was composed in 1859. This makes so much more sense and I now wish that I hadn't seen so much comparing this book to the movie. If I had known about the poem I might have had fewer expectations of it. 

I did enjoy that it was it's own story but in the back of my mind I hoped for something a bit more like the movie, with it's crazy maze and creepy creatures. I was hoping for fantasy and got mostly romance instead. In a way, I really did enjoy it but my expectations got in the way a little. The story revolved around music and romance and I wanted something a little different, I think.  

I didn't entirely relate to the MC and found her back and forth emotions to be a little exhausting. She started out as a great character. She had a hobby that she kept semi-private (composing), a deep loyalty to her family, and a wish to see her talented little brother become famous. But then her entire character seemed to flip flop and she became this entirely new person. Who she was with the Goblin King was entirely different than the character we were introduced to, it seemed.  

Likewise, I had a hard time with the Goblin King. His character seemed to fluctuate from the devious man we know the Goblin King to be, to this entirely different, innocent boy that spent most of his time in a chapel praying to God. More often than not, he didn't seem like the Goblin King at all and it was definitely not what I was expecting. 

There were times when the 'magic' of the underground felt a bit like a dream and that reminded me of the movie but overall, this story seemed to revolve around Liesl's music, her emotions, and the odd relationship between her and the Goblin King. 
I would recommend to go into this with no expectations or at least none connected to the movie The Labyrinth. 

My Rating: 3.75 stars


  1. I went into this book with no expectations (re: the movie), and I really loved it! In general, I tend to find I enjoy re-tellings more if I'm not comparing. Great review! :)

    Brittany @ Brittany's Book Rambles

    1. Yes, I really wish I hadn't gone into this with any expectations. I usually don't but The Labyrinth was a childhood favorite of mine and I got a little too excited for a retelling. I'm disappointed in myself over it because now that I'm seeing it in an entirely different light I realize it really is a good story.