Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Summary: “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.” (Summary found on Goodreads).
Wintersong is a difficult book to review because I wanted to love it and I really, really thought I would too…I just didn’t. The writing is beautiful and oh-so poetic. I felt as though I was falling in love with it when I started reading it. Merely the prologue made my heart sing. From then on, it is so atmospheric and I was transported to a whole other world. I should be giving it a raving review right now then, shouldn’t I?
“A candle unused is nothing but wax and wick,” I said.“I would rather light the ﬂame, knowing it will go out than sit forever in darkness.”
Unfortunately, however, the novel only went downhill from there. Liesl started out strong, determined to save her sister, but then she fell into the trap of “being in love”. The Goblin King creeped me out, honestly. Their relationship felt forced and unhealthy. I can’t go into it enough without spoilers, but I couldn’t see the appeal to liking them together. They spent most of their time angry with each other and fighting. Liesl couldn’t escape, she was trapped in a sick game with him. It just didn’t make sense. Not to mention, Liesl was beyond annoying and dependent on the Goblin King to define her existence, proving the idiotic trope that women need men to give them purpose. Not to mention, the only redeeming characteristic of the Goblin King was that he loved her for her, her music, her soul. I felt bad for him on a few occasions.
“There is music in your soul. A wild and untamed sort of music that speaks to me. It defies all the rules and laws you humans set upon it. It grows from inside you, and I have a wish to set that music free.”
Another problem I had was that the world-building is vague and lacking. The only hint that it took place in an alternate Germany was the language. It would have made so much more sense if S. Jae-Jones referenced cities or even flat-out said where the setting is. Sometimes showing instead of telling isn’t always the best option. Furthermore, I didn’t understand the magic system, where the Underground was, or how it existed in relation to the world we know. There’s going to be a sequel, so maybe it’ll explain then, but I’m not sure if I’ll end up reading the sequel. The writing style would be the only reason for me to continue, but I don’t think that’s enough.
Maybe this book just wasn’t for me. I still gave it three stars, so it wasn’t horrible. I certainly didn’t see the hype, though…