Book Review: Wintersong (Wintersong, #1) – S. Jae-Jones

3 stars

Title: Wintersong
Author: S. Jae-Jones
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Publication date:  February 7th 2017
Genre: Young adult fantasy


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.


“I am not afraid of you,” I said quietly.
“Oh?” The Goblin King lifted his head. “I am the Lord of Mischief, the Ruler Underground,” he said, mismatched eyes glinting. “I am wildness and madness made flesh. You’re just a girl”—he smiled, and the tips of his teeth were sharp—“and I am the wolf in the woods.”

I love evil stories about goblins. I recently read the book The Goblins of Bellwater by Molly Ringle and although I liked that book a bit more than Wintersong, there were a lot of similarities in the setting and overall mood of the book. I have a weird weak spot for goblins. They are those evil little creatures, that live in chaos and are very untrustworthy. In my opinion they can make an average good book into something more. But the goblins in this book were just not what I hoped they would be. Yes, they were evil and aggressive and they cackled more than enough, but they were predictable and they never deranged the story. They were just throwing wild parties and only did evil stuff when somebody tried to escape from their realm. They almost seemed to act as was expected of them, very un-goblin like behaviour if you ask me.

The fact that I did liked this book has a lot to do with my love for music. I don’t think you can fully enjoy this book if you don’t have a basic knowledge of musical terms or play an instrument. I can imagine it can get a bit complicated and boring to read about crescendo’s and basso continuous and all that stuff if you aren’t interested in music theory. The characters are writing and playing music a lot throughout the whole book and if you were never interested classical music, I don’t think you will enjoy the entire book (but I can be completely wrong).

One of the best things about this book is the writing style. The setting was portrayed very poetic and I could easily imagine those underground caves with all the fairy lights and stone or dirt walls and ceilings. Jae-Jones puts a lot of attention to setting a scene (which is always a good thing), it makes it very easy to imagine the world she wants to build.

The characters where just ordinary. They weren’t bad, but they weren’t good either. I felt like I read about them dozens of times before. Liesel (or Elisabeth) was just the average forgotten farmgirl with a sister who is more beautiful, a brother who is more talented and an incredibly low self-esteem. The Goblin King was just another broody immortal lord who falls in love with a mundane mortal girl (who can name 10 YA books with love interests just like the goblin king?). Because of that, this book just doesn’t stand out.

It did get a bit boring in the end. It felt like a lot of scenes repeated themselves and there wasn’t a lot of variation. It seemed like I was reading the same thing over and over again. The first half of the book was pretty good. There were a lot of different characters with each there own story. But the second part was a lot of the same. There were only two main characters left and they always talked about the same. Add to that the fact that the whole second half was situated underground, and you get a story that held a lot of promise but it just didn’t live up to my expectations.
I do hope that the Goblin King’s past will be explained more in the next book. But I’m pretty sure it will be, there was a lot of hinting, but I still mist a big part of his story. The short summary of the second book shows great promise. I just hope the next book is more like the first half of this book and not like the second half.

I waited for his shadow to fall across the keys, for teardrops to fall on my shoulder. I waited and waited and waited until the sun came up, until darkness faded to show no trace that the Goblin King had ever been there.

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