Cover Image: Wintersong

Wintersong

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Member Reviews

Wintersong is an intriguing story that revolves around the folklore of the Goblin King and one girl’s averageness that is nothing short of extraordinary.

The story is set around a girl who’s father is a bit of a drunk, her mother seems strict and her grandmother is off in her own world half the time. Her two siblings are opposites as her sister is hellbent on marrying rich and her brother is too shy to function without her, but happens to be a master violinist.

It instantly starts out where the main character, Lisel, is being...almost harassed by her grandmother to choose between her brother and her sister, which she doesn’t really realize is playing out until its too late and she doesn't choose correctly. It lands her directly into the Goblin King’s hands, but this has been in the making, her and the Goblin King for a very long time.

The stress and depression that Liesl has is strong and sad. She puts herself on the back burner for her siblings and even sacrifices herself to save them. She doesn’t realize her own beauty and power, and that makes her a character a reader wants to stand by...even though she can be a little annoying at times.

The world building is very descriptive. A mixture of real life and complete fantasy. Even the characters that are purely fantasy are quite realistic. And the plot was great, it gave me all the feels. My heart was broken and panicked right along with Liesl.

Overall, does it give you a happy ending...kind of?...maybe. I’ll definitely be picking up the sequel.
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I received a free digital copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  

I liked this book.  I've been in a bit of a slump recently, so this book, as fantastical as it was, with the Goblin king and all the other creatures, really helped, for whatever reason.
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I loved the premise and the first third of this book, but I struggled to finish it. It could've been my mood more than the book, but I couldn't connect with the characters.
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This story hit all my buttons - I felt like it took elements of my favorite stories and brought it all together in a new way. There were elements of faerie lore, fairy tales such as beauty and the beast, mythos elements such as Hades and Persephone. 

I can't wait to read more by this author, and this novel is also on my short list of books that I will likely re-read.
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I know that teenaged me would have loved this.  Seriously, she loved this kind of gorgeous whimsy, but adult me just couldn't get into it.  The writing is stunning and the descriptions are all encompassing, but something about the plot and the characters falls flat.  I'm not sure if it's just me, but the characters were just boring.  It's not so much that I didn't like them as much as I just didn't care if they succeeded or not.
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ARC provided by St. Martin's Press for free, this does not effect my review. 

Breathtakingly beautiful. The writing was poetic, It was dark, and romantic. I really enjoyed the world building and the characters. The cover really drew me in and I am grateful that the publisher provided me with an ARC. I will be buying this book in hardcover as well as picking up the second book.
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Such an incredible book! I'm so grateful to have read this book. The author's writing style is all that I wanted, and I love love LOVED the story.
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The author gave me a copy before I was able to get this through netgalley which is why it wasn’t downloaded. Loved how haunting this book was and how precise JJ is with her words and thoughts. JJ is great with the craft of writing and others can learn a lot from how she tells her stories.
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Wintersong was on my tbr for the longest time, and I honestly don’t even have any good excuse why I didn’t read it sooner.
Now when I finally picked it up, I know how much I was missing out.

This is fantasy novel that can be categorized as young adult as well as new adult, since the main character is 18 years old, and there are some steamy scenes between pages.

I kind of knew this novel would be of my interest, because it features goblins, and one of my favorite series, The Malediction Trilogy, is set in goblin’s underground. So I thought to myself, if this was half as good as Stolen Songbird it would be amazing.

I was right! Wintersong was magical and beautiful, just as I wanted it to be.

The book is written in first person, following Liesl’s POV.
I loved the writing style. The story reads as a fairy tale, which really brings the atmosphere.
However, I have to admit that because of it’s peculiar voice, it took me some time to get into the story.
Also, it took 25% for the plot to finally start to go somewhere.
One would assume that the first quarter of the story had the purpose to build the world, but in reality, this magical world is presented to us through the whole story, and I would even dare to say we get to know the world more the closer to the end.

I would call this an urban fantasy, even though the story is set in past time.

I think that the book was wrapped up really good and we got the closure, but also enough material for the next book in the series, Shadowsong, which I plan to read in December.

I really enjoyed reading Wintersong and I think readers who like to read about faeries and magical creatures would find themselves flying through it.
I recommend it to fantasy lovers who like love and steamy scenes in their stories.
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Note: This review is based on an ARC I received from Netgalley.

"Wintersong" is a fantasy romance that was clearly inspired by a few too many viewings of "Labyrinth," a touch of Orpheus/Eurydice, Beauty and the Beast, and probably a bit of "Phantom of the Opera" as well.

In short, I should have gobbled this up like the world's best ice cream. And initially, it seems like that was going to happen. Our heroine, Liesl, is a child of a lower middle class family in the pre-industrial age. Her brother is a gifted but sickly violinist and her sister is a stunning beauty, but lacking in the musical skill that both Liesl and her brother have. Liesl has memories of playing in a nearby Goblin Grove as a child, playing with a strange boy--and, well, you can guess where the rest is going, I suspect.

What's good: The world certainly needs more books based on "Labyrinth."
What's iffier: The book gives our heroine a bit of the "cool girl" edit--she's not beautiful, she's *better* because she is so special inside, etc. Equating external beauty with a lack of value is as problematic as equating beauty as value to begin with, and in either case, it gives the woman's power to the external viewer. No bueno.

In addition, the book is overwritten. I can see the author wanted to go for a dream-like and old-fashioned tone, but the book bulges at the pages with excessive metaphors and attempts at imagery. To be clear: the writing isn't poor by any means. It's just getting in its own way with its efforts to romantic and stylized, and this drags down the narrative a bit. I suspect a lighter and with those same flourishes would be more effective and keep the story moving better. 

Lastly, the book seems to stutter through its last act, as we're not quite sure where the start of the denoument begins. It is a bit like the end of "Lord of the Rings," where one feels you have a choice of proper ending points.

So ultimately: I liked it, and I greatly appreciated it, but wasn't in love with the book myself.
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When I heard about the premise of this debut YA fantasy, I knew it would be something I wanted to pick up. I haven’t read a book featuring goblins since Harry Potter and I know very little about them. It takes inspiration from works of Pre-Raphaelite poet Christina Rossetti and classic stories of the Underground but the synopsis resembles the plot of the 1986 Jim Henson film Labyrinth. Although I am familiar with Rossetti’s Goblin Market, I haven’t seen Labyrinth and it was nice to not have that comparison, as it meant I could go in with no expectations.

In 18th century Bavaria, Liesl’s sister Kathe is taken by the goblins and it’s Liesl’s mission to rescue her. The girls have grown up surrounded by stories of the goblins and as a child, Liesl was enamoured with the Goblin King, Lord of Mischief and Ruler Underground. In accordance with the old laws, The King (or Der Erlkonig) must take maidens from the world above as his wives in order to prevent an eternal winter. The King agrees to let Kathe go if Liesl takes her place as his wife in the world underground.

Liesl lives with her father, a former professional violinist with a drinking problem, her long-suffering mother, eccentric grandmother Constanze, beautiful flirty Kathe and her talented younger brother Josef who is set to follow up their father’s musical success. However, Liesl is the gifted composer behind Josef’s music. Due to the patriarchal society they live in, women are expected to live chastely and are discouraged from artistic pursuits so she allows her brother to shine. The Goblin King recognises her talent and it is because of her music, her soul, that he is drawn to her and she, in turn, is drawn to him. 

Some readers will find their romance problematic due to the fact that Der Erlkonig seems to seduce Liesl when her self-esteem is rock bottom. However, I never found him predatory or threatening despite the fact he is Lord of Mischief, Ruler Underground. He genuinely loves Liesl for her innate uniqueness and that in itself is enough for my romantic heart to go out to him. Yes, Liesl is in a bad place when she marries him but she has been her entire life. Her siblings are considered to be blessed with beauty and talent and she feels plain and worthless. However, it’s merely a point of comparison to how Der Erlkonig makes her feel -beautiful, special and wanted.

For anyone who has ever felt underappreciated, Liesl is very easy to relate to. She has a passion that bursts forth in moments of high emotion, which is when she tirelessly works at her piano writing music. The ferocity and wildness of her music (and soul) is a stark contrast to the restricted oppressed life that her family and society have forced her to lead. Der Erlkonig embodies freedom (despite her technical imprisonment) and it’s very easy to see how she falls in love with him. 

Wintersong is a dark, complex, romantic fantasy but it’s also a philosophical fable about family love and self-love. It’s about learning to distinguish between pretty lies and the ugly truth and choosing the right path. There is an emphasis on taking hold of what you love and immortalising it -and yourself- in art. A lesson that your art and creative projects will outlive you and therefore so will your soul.

The beautiful lyrical writing style that Jae-Jones employs in Wintersong gives the book a magical, twinkling air that really suits it. Even the darker, suspense-filled scenes are told in swirling metaphors that seem to pick the reader up, whirl them around and set back down on a bed of whimsy. The deep-seated important lessons at the heart of the book are lessons that many other YA books teach us but Wintersong tells them in a unique fashion that is truly captivating.

I’d recommend Wintersong to anyone who loves fantasies that deal with very real complicated issues. Despite its poetic prose, it has pitch-black undertones and there are certainly some dangerous adult themes at play -sex, female oppression and potential corruption. Addictive, sexy and bewitching, Wintersong is a book that reels in your inner unshakeable curiosity and refuses to let go.
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Unfortunately I had trouble getting into the fantasy world of WINTERSONG so this is a DNF for me (for now at least, I may try again in the future).
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Unfortunately this didn’t work for me. I got about 20% in and I wasn’t hooked. In fairness this was my own fault as I’ve never seen labyrinth and have no intention to. It seemed like something I could maybe be interested in and it wasn’t.
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This was a fun read, full of magic and a little bit of mayhem. The world building was fantastic, the author really set the tone of the book with it.
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Lyrical writing with twists and tirns that will leave you turning the pages breathlessly. It is dark, whimsical, & magical.
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I absolutely loved the uniqueness of the Dutch mythology. A refreshing change from the England centric that seems to dominate this genre. I devoured the entire thing as quickly as I could. The development of Liesl/Elisabeth was partially fantastic and partially confusing - at times I was taken aback by the abrupt shift in her personality. As I kept reading I realized it was the times when she was under the influence of the underground - I wish it had been a bit more clear. I also hesitate to rate it five stars since the romance depended heavily on the overdone and problematic “oh he’s so bad I want to save him” trope. Otherwise, a wonderful book! I’ll definitely be looking for the second one.
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A Review of Wintersong and Shadowsong
I read both Wintersong and Shadowsong by S. Jae-Jones back to back, and over just a few days. The books are dark and twisty, but also riveting and romantic. I have chosen to review them together because they must be read together, in my opinion, to gain the full picture of how the Underground shapes Leisl, her brother30694168 Josef, and her immortal beloved The Goblin King. However, before I go much further, I must include a warning: Shadowsong features self-harm and suicide as fairly major themes, which could be triggering for some readers. I appreciate the fact that S. Jae-Jones took the time to provide that warning in her book, and wanted to pass the information on here. I should also say that she handles these topics with dignity, and it is clear that they are essential details to our understanding of the characters involved. Now, on to my review!

Leisl is a girl who grows be leaps and bounds over the course of the two novels; her character development is flawlessly executed, never contradicting itself or seeming too drastic. She arrives in the Underground feeling that only the Goblin King’s desire for her can make her whole, but as her connection with the world above begins to fade, she finds that she must rely on self-love to stay relevant Image result for Romantic Couple Kissing Moonlightand alive. The Goblin King, at times an ancient monster, and at times a tender lover, stresses to Leisl the importance of learning to appreciate her own talents, instead of always playing second fiddle, and demurring to others. He begs her to be selfish at times! But, above all else, he warns her that she must learn to love her self entirely, if she wants to ever be truly happy. It is with a promise to do just that, that Leisl exits the Underground as Elisabeth Entire, and makes her way to the city to join her brother on the classical music scene. But the brother she finds is twisted with self-loathing, and a longing for home, which Elisabeth feels powerless to provide, since home may not be where Josef believes it to be. Yet Leisl soon finds that Josef’s longings are the least of their worries, as an ancient magic has been set loose on the land, to hunt for lives to atone for her escape from the Underground. The old laws cannot be so easily escaped, and sacrifices will have to be made…but by whom?Image result for music notes gif

The two books are seamlessly bound together by the mystery of the Goblin King’s true identity, and the possibility that he could be saved from the Underground and returned to a mortal existence through the redemptive power of love. But of course, nothing could be that simple, and Leisl must follow ever changing roads to her ultimate destiny of facing down the old laws. The books include myriad references to German folklore and classical music history and technique, which creates a rich tapestry of images for the flights of fancy necessary to truly appreciate the tale of Leisl and the Goblin King. I highly recommend these books!
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I received a copy of this book from Netgalley, but due to some serious family circumstances I was unable to finish it and review it. However, I can tell you that from the very first line you can tell what the feel of the book will be. You can sense its mood, and its just the kind that I like. It feels a bit dark, but not overwhelming. Instead, it feels just dark enough to give the novel some substance. I am going to read this one day and give it a full review, but for now I'm just going to mention how much I love the vibe and the writing and the character names (which, coincidentally, add to the vibe)
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This was just a magical read. The writing was breathtaking, beautiful, and heartbreaking. I felt like I was put under a spell for some time while reading it. But there were some moments in the book where the story felt like it dragged in a bit.
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I had a really hard time with this novel. I reallllly wanted to like it, and there were certainly enjoyable aspects to it. But I wasn't really ever able to get fully immersed in the pages and the characters just seemed very distant to me. It was also pretty dark and cold feeling and I didn't love the atmosphere the author created. I've heard such great things about this novel so I was really disappointed that I didn't love it. Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for sending in exchange for an honest review.
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