I follow a lot of reader and writer accounts on Twitter and Instagram. While I already have a huge “To Be Read” shelf, I am always on the lookout for new books. I’ll read just about any age group and genre, but I tend to prefer the Young Adult/New Adult genres. WINTERSONG by S. Jae-Jones kept popping up on Amazon, but I wasn’t sure just by the cover if it was something I would enjoy reading.
On Instagram, one of the accounts I followed absolutely raved about this book. I remember her saying if there is just one new book by a new author to try, it’s this one. After several posts of positive reviews, I looked it up. The description of it immediately captured my attention:
“The last night of the year. Now the days of winter begin and the Goblin King rides abroad, searching for his bride…
All her life, Liesl has heard tales of the beautiful, dangerous Goblin King. They’ve enraptured her mind, her spirit, and inspired her musical compositions. Now eighteen and helping to run her family’s inn, Liesl can’t help but feel that her musical dreams and childhood fantasies are slipping away.
But when her own sister is taken by the Goblin King, Liesl has no choice but to journey to the Underground to save her. Drawn to the strange, captivating world she finds―and the mysterious man who rules it―she soon faces an impossible decision. And with time and the old laws working against her, Liesl must discover who she truly is before her fate is sealed.
Rich with music and magic, S. Jae-Jones’s Wintersong will sweep you away into a world you won’t soon forget.”
My favorite movie of all time is Labyrinth. When I hear the words “goblin” and “king” together, I immediately think of big-haired David Bowie in tights, playing cruel master of Jim Henson’s world, singing Magic Dance or As the World Falls Down. I think of the goblins, gross looking and yet endearing at the same time. I think of the many lessons the story teaches to children like be careful what you wish for, or words have power. This book had so many references to Labyrinth, from the Goblin King’s physical appearance, to a ball in the Underground, to rotten peaches, to “I wish…”. Within just the first 30 pages, I found myself fangirling over all of the references. I was hooked immediately.
Now, WINTERSONG is not a retelling of Labyrinth. It’s sort of a cross between Labyrinth and Phantom of the Opera. The setting is 19th century Germany, and explores the life and times of those living then. The main character, Elisabeth (or Liesl), was easily relatable for me. She is the eldest of three siblings. Her character has sacrificed nearly everything for her siblings, including her music, her love, and, eventually, her life. Elisabeth goes on a journey to find herself, who she is, outside of her family or the expectations of those in her life. She has experienced bouts of suffering. This story is set in a time when women were expected to be runners of a household, a piece of arm candy, not career driven. The Goblin King gives her a chance to fully explore her talents with music in a way that she would not otherwise have had a chance.
What follows is a beautiful love story.
Jae-Jones’s words were gorgeously written, and they flowed like a composed piece of music. She captures the mischief and darkness of the Goblin King in such a way that one wants to know more about him, like most want to know more of the Phantom from Phantom of the Opera. Elisabeth is such a relatable character for anyone who has felt the weight of self-sacrifice.
The end of the book wrapped the story up where it could stand alone, but left it just open enough in case of a series. I discovered a sequel is coming, and I can’t wait to read it.
I started this book on a Sunday morning and finished it that night. That is how good of a book it was, to me. Not everyone will understand or adore the Labyrinth references, but if you like the movie, I would highly recommend WINTERSONG. If you like characters shrouded in shades of gray, read it. If you want to escape to the Underground for a while, read it.
This is, hands down, my favorite book of 2017 so far. The only book that comes close is KING’S CAGE by Victoria Aveyard (I adore the RED QUEEN series). It lived up to the hype, which, I find, is really rare for books these days (one example, THE FAULT IN OUR STARS, call me a monster, I didn’t like it).
So, this was my first book review on this blog (I have two others that have been sitting in my drafts for months…oops). If you have any feedback, please leave it in a comment or reach out to me on any of my social media accounts.
Thanks for reading,