The last night of the year. Now the days of winter begin and the Goblin King rides abroad, searching for his bride…
All her life, Liesl has heard tales of the beautiful, dangerous Goblin King. They’ve enraptured her mind, her spirit, and inspired her musical compositions. Now eighteen and helping to run her family’s inn, Liesl can’t help but feel that her musical dreams and childhood fantasies are slipping away.
But when her own sister is taken by the Goblin King, Liesl has no choice but to journey to the Underground to save her. Drawn to the strange, captivating world she finds―and the mysterious man who rules it―she soon faces an impossible decision. And with time and the old laws working against her, Liesl must discover who she truly is before her fate is sealed.
Rich with music and magic, S. Jae-Jones's Wintersong will sweep you away into a world you won’t soon forget.
"Wintersong" is a fairytale come to life, featuring Elisabeth (Liesl), the innkeeper's daughter, and the fabled Goblin King, Der Erlkonig. The Goblin King must steal a bride from the world above to maintain both the world above and the world below (of goblins and changelings and other magical creatures). The bride must die to fuel the spring and summer and take away the winter. This is the way it has always been. Liesl is a young composer at a time when it is impossible she should be anything other than a wife. She has been stifled and boxed, herself mostly hidden- as well as her memories of playing with the Goblin King as a child.
Liesl adores her brother, Josef, with whom she shares her music. She is jealous of her sister, Kathe, who is beautiful. Liesl is not blessed in terms of her appearance, and she is well aware of the fact. The Goblin King comes to choose a bride and takes Liesl's sister, Kathe. Everyone else seems to have forgotten Kathe ever existed, and the Goblin King challenges Liesl to a game for her sister's life. Will she choose the pretty lie or the ugly truth?
The story peels itself away in layers of lies and truths- what the bride means, what the king is, what Liesl and the King mean to each other. It evolves poetically and beautifully as does Liesl's music (oft a focus of the book). The prose is itself lyrical, and really elegantly written. The book is touching and harsh- it's a very emotional ride and impossible to put down or forget. Just like music, this story speaks to the soul.
I am surprised this is a YA book- it has some very adult content (in terms of consummating the marriage) and is much deeper than most YA books will go. This is also not a book which could or does finish with everything wrapped up with a pretty bow. I don't want to give spoilers, so I won't say much, but this is not a story which ends with an across-the-board happily ever after. I see the comparisons to "Labyrinth" but I think this is something else entirely, and it reminds me more of the older fairytales which contained ugliness amongst the beauty.
Overall, this was a beautiful and fantastic read- I am very curious to read more from this talented author. Please note that I received an ARC from the publisher through netgalley. All opinions are my own.
Sick of Double Standards
This is going to be more like a rant/review than just a review. I am honestly proud that I finished this book, it was so boring and needlessly long. I can sum up the book in one paragraph yet it's 436 pages long. I was so bored. So the book was too long for such a small plot.
Liesl used to play with the Goblin King as a child. She grew up and stopped playing with him. He kidnaps her sister to lure her back to him. She saves her sister by giving herself to him. They fall in love. He lets her go so she doesn't die.
That is the whole plot.
But it gets worse. Liesl is so annoying, always saying she is less than her talented brother and beautiful sister. All she wants is to be good looking, in all honestly it seems to me that all she wants is a man to find her good looking and sleep with her. She wants to be desirable like her younger sister.
She fails to see her own talents, always thinking she's nothing and then yet she tries to push her dreams onto her brother. I just don't like her.
Then there is the problem of the author setting up this huge thing and never giving the payoff. What am I talking about? The sexual tension. The author builds it up and builds it up and we get the smallest amount of payoff. Sometimes it even fades to black. That is not good. If you set something up that far the payoff needs to be worth it or it's a fail.
Also the chemistry between her and the Goblin King was pretty awful. I never really felt the love between them, not once.
This also leads me into another point. How many times he'd told her no when she kept pushing for sex.
"Stop." His voice was firmer now. I ignored him, pulling at hid cloak, his shirt, his breeches. "Stop, Elisabeth. Please." - Page 234 (The Goblin King)
He let out a slight hiss of pain. Moans of pain, moans of pleasure - to my ears they were all sung in the same key. - Page 233 (Liesl's thoughts) - Like this kind of thinking is not normal to me. Moans of pain sound like moans of pleasure? No. That's sick.
"Enough, Elisabeth." He was short of breath."Enough." - Page 236 (The Goblin King)
Yeah so there is that, it bothers me, this double standard. Do you know if this was switched, if it were the girl that was going through this how many people would get pissed? But since it's a guy... nothing. I've seen one other reviewer say something about this. ONE. This kind of thing is never okay, guy, girl, anyone else. No means fucking no. You stop.
After they do finally have sex... suddenly her whole world changes and she feels the desire to write music again and she is now a woman and she is so very different from before. The world now makes sense and blah, blah, blah.
Yeah none of that is true. Do you know what happens after you have sex? The world goes on just as it did before. You do not change into this whole new person. The world does not align and all the secrets of it are reveled. You maybe sore for a day after but that's the only thing that changes. So that whole thing just made me roll my eyes so hard I thought they were going to get stuck.
I just... I don't think I've ever disliked a book so much as this one and I hated that. I wanted to love it so much. I hate saying bad things about books so here are the few things I liked. The cover is stunning, I love how it was marketed as a labyrinth inspired story. I also love how it brought music into the story. I wish more books would do that as music and books are my favorite things so it makes me happy when they collide. I did like the writing style. It was something almost lyrical and that was nice.
So I guess that's all I really have to say about this book. It was boring, eye roll worthy and just plain awful.