Review: Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones

Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones

Series: Wintersong #1

Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Retelling

Release Date: February 7, 2017

Format: Kindle

Source: Overdrive library loan

Find it here: GoodReads | Amazon

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. But when her sister Kathe is taken by the goblins, Liesl journeys to their realm to rescue her. The Goblin King agrees to let Kathe go - for a price. In exchange for her sister's freedom, Liesl offers her hand in marriage to the Goblin King and 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 willing to sacrifice: her life, her music, or the end of the world.

It's not often that I reach for fantasy. It's just not my genre. But every now and then a synopsis jumps out at me and I set aside my contemporaries for a walk into another world. (And naturally the mention of the Goblin King gave me David Bowie vibes in all his 1980's, eye-linered, choppy-haired, singing glory as Goblin King Jareth. - See: Labyrinth) Reading that Jae-Jones initially started Wintersong as a sort of Labyrinth retelling sealed the deal.

What I got from Wintersong was a mixed bag. Some things I loved, some not so much. While I caught only minor nods to Labyrinth, there was still plenty to enjoy. On the plus side, Liesl was not the typical beautiful YA heroine (finally!). She was described (many times) as plain - the homely sister of the village beauty. Thumbs up for having a lead who was not the devastatingly pretty girl that everyone fawned over. It made it easier to relate to Liesl's feelings of desire: the desire to be the pretty one, the desire to be special, the desire to be the one who garnered all the attention. Like the attention of the Goblin King. And he is where the real story and the real draw was for me. The Goblin King was so mysterious, so complex, and so enigmatic that I was desperate to know more. I would have loved to have had a dual POV in this one - to be inside the Goblin King's head. The mere thought makes me giddy. 

Despite my fascination with the Goblin King, Wintersong wasn't without its problems. There were a lot of times where I was just plain confused - trying to determine what was really happening, what was just a dream or hallucination, what it all meant. And I don't know if that was due to the execution, the writing style, or maybe it was just me. The writing had a hazy, dreamy sort of quality that, while beautiful, too often left me scratching my head wondering what exactly was happening. In addition, the in-depth passages about musical composition were so detailed and so frequent that it became tedious. As someone with no musical training or ability, it all went right over my head and was wasted on me. 

I will say that the ending got to me. It wasn't what I wanted or expected and therefore wasn't really satisfying, but it was emotional and left me a bit heartsick. So, despite the slow pace of this one (a lot of detail without a lot happening), I have no doubt that I will pick up the next book to learn the fate of Liesl and the Goblin King. 

3.25/5 STARS

Have you read Wintersong? What did you think?



12 comments

  1. I don't go for fantasy that often either. I'm sorry it was a bit of a mix for you on this one, but that's good you want to read the second book!

    -Lauren

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    1. Sometimes those middle of the road books are even harder than the ones you just don't like! It's like, there's *just* enough there to make you want to keep reading.

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  2. I've read so many mixed reviews over this book - but slow pacing is always mentioned. This isn't too big a problem for me, I just really hope that when I pick it up I will connect with the romance... Great review!

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    1. Thanks Sarah! The romance was definitely of the slow burn variety but I was definitely on board with it. And by the end, all the feels. :)

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  3. We DEFINITELY need more Goblin King, he seems so swoony but he was just too mysterious for me to get behind.

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    1. Yes! I was dying for more background on the Goblin King. He shared a bit with Liesl but I really wanted more.

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  4. I really liked this one, but I agree that if fantasy isn't your thing, it could get slow and tedious. There were some slow moments for me too, but I liked it overall. I thought the writing was just SO good, and I really liked the characters. I never saw Labyrinth, but I know that people were a bit disappointed in that respect. Great review!!

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    1. At first I thought people were just making the Layrinth comparisons because of the Goblin King. But then I read on SJJ's website that she was inspired by the movie and started out writing a sort of retelling. So I was really hoping for more Labyrinth elements. It probably worked out better for you having not seen the movie. :) I still have every intention of reading the follow-up. I need to know what happens!

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  5. oh too bad that you don't read a lot of fantasy and this one fell short too! BUT you are reading the Others and ACOTAR! :) I think you are loving those :)

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    1. So true! I guess I'm just *really really* picky about which fantasy I read. :) I adore the ACOTAR series but wasn't as wowed by Maas's Throne of Glass series and stopped after the first book. And The Others... I guess because it's urban fantasy it feels a little more "real" to me.

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  6. I completely agree. This was a good book, but it wasn't anything mind-blowing or original. Thanks for sharing and, as always, fabulous review! <3

    ~ Zoe @ Stories on Stage

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    1. Thanks Zoe. Glad to know it wasn't just me!

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