I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones
Release date: February 7th, 2017
Publisher: Thomas Dunne
Genre: Young adult, fantasy, romance
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.
*sigh* Disappointment. Wintersong had been one of my most high anticipated books. Everything about it screamed Jacquie this is THE book for you! The gorgeous cover is what initially caught my attention. Then I read the synopsis and was hooked! A fantasy story based in Germany featuring a Goblin King? YES please! However, it wasn’t what I expected.
The book had tons and tons of promise but was poorly executed. The first 10% held my attention. I read through it quickly and loathed to put it down. I wanted to know more Liesl’s childhood (as hinted in the introduction) and the mythical Goblins that the children were warned about. Unfortunately, after the 10% mark the plot became quite slow. It fell flat and my attention waned. I stuck with it because there were pieces of promise but much of it was a huge drag. At over 400 pages I really believe parts could have been edited to quicken the pace.
A major reason for the slow pacing was the fact that nothing really happened in the book. Following the setup of the world and the characters that inhabit it, it just turns into the same thing happening again and again. Liesl and the Goblin King argue. Liesl thinks poorly of herself because she’s just so plain. Liesl composes music and refuses to play it. At first this was alright but when it repeats far too many times it’s just too much. I became a bit frustrated with the plot and seriously considered giving up.
I was also hoping for a lot more in the romance department. The synopsis makes it sound, at least to me, that the surprise relationship that develops between Liesl and the Goblin King is both intense and swoon worthy. I felt the complete opposite about it. I neither swooned or enjoyed it every much. The Goblin King was supposed to be able to seduce young maidens. Handsome. Desirable. But nope to for me at all. In fact, besides some steamy sex scenes, their relationship wasn’t believable at all. Liesl was more miserable than anything. As I always write in my reviews, I need to get behind the characters and cheer them on. I wasn’t behind either of these character or their romance. I just didn’t care.
In conclusion, I think I went into this book with my expectations far too high. Even the good parts didn’t excite me and it really is a shame. There was so much potential for the plot, characters and romance. In the end the poor pacing and lack of emotion made it feel cold and flat.
S. Jae-Jones, called JJ, is an artist, an adrenaline junkie, and the author of Wintersong, forthcoming from Thomas Dunne in February 2017.
Born and raised in sunny Los Angeles, she lived in New York City for ten years before relocating down to Dixie, where she is comfortably growing fat on grits and barbecue. When not writing, she can be found rock-climbing, skydiving, taking photographs, drawing pictures, and dragging her dog on ridiculously long hikes.