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4.1 13
by S. Jae-Jones

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Wintersong is a maze of beauty and darkness, of music and magic and glittering things, all tied together with exquisite writing. This is a world you will want to stay lost in.” —Marie Lu, #1 New York Times bestselling author

Dark, romantic, and unforgettable, Wintersong is an enchanting coming-of-age


Wintersong is a maze of beauty and darkness, of music and magic and glittering things, all tied together with exquisite writing. This is a world you will want to stay lost in.” —Marie Lu, #1 New York Times bestselling author

Dark, romantic, and unforgettable, Wintersong is an enchanting coming-of-age story for fans of Labyrinth and Beauty and the Beast.

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.

"This was Labyrinth by way of Angela Carter. Deliciously romantic, with a nuanced Goblin King and a strong heroine, this story was rife with fairy tales, music, and enchantment." —Roshani Chokshi, New York Times bestselling author of The Star-Touched Queen

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Set in 19th-century Bavaria, Jae-Jones’s debut tells the tale of 18-year-old Liesl Vogler, an innkeeper’s daughter who dreams of being a famous composer but is resigned to a life of minding her siblings and helping her mother run the family business. When the Goblin King abducts Liesl’s younger sister, Kathë, Liesl travels to the Underground and secures Kathë’s release by agreeing to marry the King in her stead. Freed from her earthly responsibilities, Liesl can finally dedicate herself to her music, with the Goblin King serving as both collaborator and muse. But as she falls in love and finds her voice, the Underground begins to drain her life force, and soon Liesl is faced with difficult decisions. While Jae-Jones writes beautifully about the magic of love, the power of music, and the importance of free will, she gives short shrift to the more elementary aspects of her story. The plot meanders, the stakes are ill-defined, and the characters lack depth and verisimilitude, keeping the book from reaching its full potential. Ages 12–up. Agent: Katelyn Detweiler, Jill Grinberg Literary Management. (Feb.)
From the Publisher

“The legend of the cruel and pitiless Erl-king anchors a darkly lush and dangerous tale of a stifled young woman’s creative awakening. Beautiful writing evokes powerful emotions in this journey into the meaning of sacrifice and the power of love.”—Kate Elliott, New York Times bestselling author of the Crossroads and Crown of Stars series

"Wintersong is a maze of beauty and darkness, of music and magic and glittering things, all tied together with exquisite writing. This is a world you will want to stay lost in."—Marie Lu, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Legend and The Young Elites

"Spellbinding and sexy, Wintersong is a feast for all the senses. I didn't want this beautifully written book to end."—Renée Ahdieh, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Wrath and the Dawn

"This was Labyrinth by way of Angela Carter, and I think my soul has been aching for a book like Wintersong for the last decade. Deliciously romantic, with a nuanced Goblin King and a strong heroine, this story was rife with fairy tales, music, and enchantment."—Roshani Chokshi, New York Times bestselling author of The Star-Touched Queen

"S. Jae-Jones has a great grasp of emotion in her writing, and plucks your heart-strings from the very first pages. This story will make you hurt in the most fantastic way. It is captivating. A very strong debut."—Charlie N. Holmberg, bestselling author of The Paper Magician

"This is an exquisitely and lyrically crafted tale of longing, sibling loyalty, and the importance of women in a time when women were so often overlooked. Eerie, unsettling, and above all, full of music." —Booklist (starred review)

"Jae-Jones writes beautifully about the magic of love, the power of music, and the importance of free will." —Publishers Weekly

"Structured as a sonata, the final movement culminates in a bittersweet sacrifice that will leave readers... savoring the delicious tragedy." —Kirkus Reviews

"[R]ife with intricate details and world-building, as well as the charged relationship between Liesl and the Goblin King. Fans of Gregory Maguire's Egg & Spoon or E.K. Johnston's A Thousand Nights will be drawn to the in-depth depictions of the goblin's realm." —School Library Journal

VOYA, February 2017 (Vol. 39, No. 6) - Sharon A Martin
All her life, Liesl has heard stories of the Goblin King. She has childhood memories of playing with him in the forest and creating music with him, but Liesl grows up and leaves him behind. She must help her family run their inn, and, because she is female, must compose her music in secret. She no longer trusts her memories and doubts that goblins are real. But they are, and when her sister is taken by them, Liesl goes to the Underground to match wits with the Goblin King to rescue her. When her friendship with the Goblin King is rekindled into romance, Liesl must walk through her memories, insecurities, passions, and strengths to come out on the other side of emotional freedom. Wintersong, Jae-Jones’s debut novel, is reminiscent of the Persephone myth by way of the Germanic Goblin King. This is a complex and compelling retelling. Ultimately, it is a tale of empowerment and strength as Liesl finds her voice and heart. The nuances of Liesl’s growth and self realizations are for sophisticated thinkers. The intimacy between Liesl and her Goblin King is intense. Give this to readers who want to get lost in a musically deep love story. Reviewer: Sharon A Martin; Ages 15 to 18.
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—This YA fantasy is a richly detailed journey through German folklore and 19th-century Europe. Often overshadowed by her musically talented brother and her beautiful sister, Liesl assists her parents in running the family's inn. When her sister, Käthe, is taken by goblins, Liesl makes a wager to secure her release and travels underground to the alluring Goblin King's world in an attempt to win freedom for both herself and Käthe. This fantasy debut is rife with intricate details and world-building, as well as the charged relationship between Liesl and the Goblin King. Fans of Gregory Maguire's Egg & Spoon or E.K. Johnston's A Thousand Nights will be drawn to the in-depth depictions of the goblins' realm. Others may find the story's length and its emphasis on description rather than action overwhelming. The slower pace allows for additional character development of Liesl, although Käthe and their younger brother, Josef, remain in the background. VERDICT An additional purchase for larger collections.—Jenni Frencham, Columbus Public Library, WI
Kirkus Reviews
Germanic legends and the Persephone myth blend with the Labyrinth film to deliver a torrid fantasy romance.When der Erlkönig (or "Goblin King") ensnares a Bavarian innkeeper's daughter for his bride, her sister, Elisabeth, dares to rescue her—and take her place. "Queer and strange and unlovely," Elisabeth devoted most of her 19 years to supporting her younger siblings. Now she can finally indulge her secret longings to compose music…and for the Goblin King himself. But at what cost? Elisabeth's first-person voice is all extreme passion: jealousy, self-loathing, frustration, rage, desire, rapture, and grief, expressed in lush prose that feels poetic in small doses but eventually becomes exhausting. Despite all the physical sensuality, it is the descriptions of music which are most compelling; perhaps because der Erlkönig (an explicit David Bowie insert) remains shallow wish fulfilment, transforming from "austere young man" to mischievous playmate to rapacious lover to devoted swain, all with exquisite tortured angst. The remaining characters barely register; a hinted same-sex relationship between her brother and a black slave (seen as exotic in this white European setting) seems to serve mostly as a counterpoint to Elisabeth's romantic arc. Structured as a sonata, the final movement culminates in a bittersweet sacrifice that will leave readers either savoring the delicious tragedy or irked by the unresolved plot holes. Like fruit from the Goblin Market: luscious at first bite but ultimately overripe, cloying, and empty. (Fantasy. 14 & up)

Product Details

St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.40(d)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt


By S. Jae-Jones

St. Martin's Press

Copyright © 2017 S. Jae-Jones
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-250-07921-3




We must not look at goblin men, We must not buy their fruits: Who knows upon what soil they fed Their hungry, thirsty roots?



"BEWARE THE GOBLIN MEN," Constanze said. "And the wares they sell."

I jumped when my grandmother's shadow swept across my notes, scattering my thoughts and foolscap along with it. I scrambled to cover my music, shame shaking my hands, but Constanze hadn't been addressing me. She stood perched on the threshold, scowling at my sister, Käthe, who primped and preened before the mirror in our bedroom — the only mirror in our entire inn.

"Listen well, Katharina." Constanze pointed a gnarled finger at my sister's reflection. "Vanity invites temptation, and is the sign of a weak will."

Käthe ignored her, pinching her cheeks and fluffing her curls. "Liesl," she said, reaching for a hat on the dressing table. "Could you come help me with this?"

I put my notes back into their little lockbox. "It's a market, Käthe, not a ball. We're just going to pick up Josef's bows from Herr Kassl's."

"Liesl," Käthe whined. "Please."

Constanze harrumphed and thumped the floor with her cane, but my sister and I paid her no heed. We were used to our grandmother's dour and direful pronouncements.

I sighed. "All right." I hid the lockbox beneath our bed and rose to help pin the hat to Käthe's hair.

The hat was a towering confection of silk and feathers, a ridiculous affectation, especially in our little provincial village. But my sister was also ridiculous, so she and the hat were well matched.

"Ouch!" Käthe said as I accidentally jabbed her with a hatpin. "Watch where you stick that thing."

"Learn to dress yourself, then." I smoothed down my sister's curls and settled her shawl so that it covered her bare shoulders. The waist of her gown was gathered high beneath her bosom, the simple lines of her dress showing every curve of her figure. It was, Käthe claimed, the latest fashion in Paris, but my sister seemed scandalously unclothed to my eyes.

"Tut." Käthe preened before her reflection. "You're just jealous."

I winced. Käthe was the beauty of our family, with sunshine hair, summer-blue eyes, apple-blossom cheeks, and a buxom figure. At seventeen, she already looked like a woman full-grown, with a small waist and generous hips that her new dress showed off to great advantage. I was nearly two years older but still looked like a child: small, thin, and sallow. The little hobgoblin, Papa called me. Fey, was Constanze's pronouncement. Only Josef ever called me beautiful. Not pretty, my brother would say. Beautiful.

"Yes, I'm jealous," I said. "Now are we going to the market or not?"

"In a bit." Käthe rummaged through her box of trinkets. "What do you think, Liesl?" she asked, holding up a few lengths of ribbon. "Red or blue?"

"Does it matter?"

She sighed. "I suppose not. None of the village boys will care anymore, now that I'm to be married." She glumly plucked at the trim on her gown. "Hans isn't the sort for fun or finery."

My lips tightened. "Hans is a good man."

"A good man, and boring," Käthe said. "Did you see him at the dance the other night? He never, not once, asked me to take a turn with him. He just stood in the corner and glared disapprovingly."

It was because Käthe had been flirting shamelessly with a handful of Austrian soldiers en route to Munich to oust the French. Pretty girl, they coaxed her in their funny Austrian accents, Come give us a kiss!

"A wanton woman is ripened fruit," Constanze intoned, "begging to be plucked by the Goblin King."

A frisson of unease ran up my spine. Our grandmother liked to scare us with tales of goblins and other creatures that lived in the woods beyond our village, but Käthe, Josef, and I hadn't taken her stories seriously since we were children. At eighteen, I was too old for my grandmother's fairy tales, yet I cherished the guilty thrill that ran through me whenever the Goblin King was mentioned. Despite everything, I still believed in the Goblin King. I still wanted to believe in the Goblin King.

"Oh, go squawk at someone else, you old crow," Käthe said. She pouted. "Why must you always be pecking at me?"

"Mark my words." Constanze glared at my sister from beneath layers of yellowed lace and faded ruffles, her dark brown eyes the only sharp things in her wizened face. "You watch yourself, Katharina, lest the goblins come take you for your licentious ways."

"Enough, Constanze," I said. "Leave Käthe alone and let us go on our way. We must be back before Master Antonius arrives."

"Yes, Heaven forbid we miss our precious little Josef's audition for the famous violin maestro," my sister muttered.


"I know, I know." She sighed. "Stop worrying, Liesl. He'll be fine. You're worse than a hen with a fox at the door."

"He won't be fine if he doesn't have any bows to play with." I turned to leave. "Come, or I'll be going without you."

"Wait." Käthe grabbed my hand. "Would you let me to do a little something with your hair? You have such gorgeous locks; it's a shame you plait them out of the way. I could —"

"A wren is still a wren, even in a peacock's feathers." I shook her off. "Don't waste your time. It's not like Hans — anyone — would notice anyway."

My sister flinched at the mention of her betrothed's name. "Fine," she said shortly, then strode past me without another word.

"Ka—" I began, but Constanze stopped me before I could follow.

"You take care of your sister, girlie," she warned. "You watch over her."

"Don't I always?" I snapped. It had always been up to me — me and Mother — to hold the family together. Mother looked after the inn that was our house and livelihood; I looked after the members who made it home.

"Do you?" My grandmother fixed her dark eyes on my face. "Josef isn't the only one who needs looking after, you know."

I frowned. "What do you mean?"

"You forget what day it is."

Sometimes it was easier to humor Constanze than to ignore her. I sighed. "What day is it?"

"The day the old year dies."

Another shiver up my spine. My grandmother still kept to the old laws and the old calendar, and this last night of autumn was when the old year died and the barrier between worlds was thin. When the denizens of the Underground walked the world above during the days of winter, before the year began again in the spring.

"The last night of the year," Constanze said. "Now the days of winter begin and the Goblin King rides abroad, searching for his bride."

I turned my face away. Once I would have remembered without any prompting. Once I would have joined my grandmother in pouring salt along every windowsill, every threshold, every entrance as a precaution against these wildling nights. Once, once, once. But I could no longer afford the luxury of my indulgent imaginings. It was time, as the apostle Paul said to the Corinthians, to put aside childish things.

"I don't have time for this." I pushed Constanze aside. "Let me pass."

Sorrow pushed the lines of my grandmother's face into even deeper grooves, sorrow and loneliness, her hunched shoulders bowing with the weight of her beliefs. She bore those beliefs alone now. None of us kept faith with Der Erlkönig anymore; none save Josef.

"Liesl!" Käthe shouted from downstairs. "Can I borrow your red cloak?"

"Mind how you choose, girl," Constanze told me. "Josef is not part of the game. When Der Erlkönig plays, he plays for keeps."

Her words stopped me short. "What are you talking about?" I asked. "What game?"

"You tell me." Constanze's expression was grave. "The wishes we make in the dark have consequences, and the Lord of Mischief will call their reckoning."

Her words prickled against my mind. I minded how Mother warned us of Constanze's aged and feeble wits, but my grandmother had never seemed more lucid or more earnest, and despite myself, a thread of fear began to wind about my throat.

"Is that a yes?" Käthe called. "Because I'm taking it if so!"

I groaned. "No, you may not!" I said, leaning over the stair rail. "I'll be right there, I promise!"

"Promises, eh?" Constanze cackled. "You make so many, but how many of them can you keep?"

"What —" I began, but when I turned to face her, my grandmother was gone.

* * *

Downstairs, Käthe had taken my red cloak off its peg, but I plucked it from her hands and settled it about my own shoulders. The last time Hans had brought us gifts from his father's fabric goods store — before his proposal to Käthe, before everything between us changed — he had given us a beautiful bolt of heavy wool. For the family, he said, but everyone had known the gift was for me. The bolt of wool was a deep, blood-red, perfectly suited to my darker coloring and warming to my sallow complexion. Mother and Constanze had made me a winter cloak from the cloth, and Käthe made no secret of how much she coveted it.

We passed our father playing dreamy old airs on his violin in the main hall. I looked around for our guests, but the room was empty, the hearth cold and the coals dead. Papa still wore his clothes from the night before, and the whiff of stale beer lingered about him like must.

"Where's Mother?" Käthe asked.

Mother was nowhere to be seen, which was probably why Papa felt bold enough to play out here in the main hall, where anyone might hear him. The violin was a sore point with our parents; money was tight, and Mother would rather Papa play his instrument for hire than pleasure. But perhaps Master Antonius's imminent arrival had loosened Mother's pursestrings as well as her heartstrings. The renowned virtuoso was to stop at our inn on his way from Vienna to Munich to audition my little brother.

"Likely taking a nap," I ventured. "We were up before dawn, scrubbing out the rooms for Master Antonius."

Our father was a violinist nonpareil, who had once played with the finest court musicians in Salzburg. It was in Salzburg, Papa would boast, where he had had the privilege of playing with Mozart on one of the late, great composer's concertos. Genius like that, Papa said, comes only once in a lifetime. Once in two lifetimes. But sometimes, he would continue, giving Josef a sly glance, lightning does strike twice.

Josef was not among the gathered guests. My little brother was shy of strangers, so he was likely hiding at the Goblin Grove, practicing until his fingers bled. My heart ached to join him, even as my fingertips twinged with sympathetic pain.

"Good, I won't be missed," Käthe said cheerfully. My sister often found any excuse to skip out on her chores. "Let's go."

Outside, the air was brisk. The day was uncommonly cold, even for late autumn. The light was sparse, weak and wavering, as though seen through curtains or a veil. A faint mist wrapped the trees along the path into town, wraithing their spindly branches into spectral limbs. The last night of the year. On a day like this, I could believe the barriers between worlds were thin indeed.

The path that led into town was pitted and rutted with carriage tracks and spotted with horse dung. Käthe and I took care to keep to the edges, where the short, dead grass helped prevent the damp from seeping into our boots.

"Ugh." Käthe stepped around another dung puddle. "I wish we could afford a carriage."

"If only our wishes had power," I said.

"Then I'd be the most powerful person in the world," Käthe remarked, "for I have wishes aplenty. I wish we were rich. I wish we could afford whatever we wanted. Just imagine, Liesl: what if, what if, what if."

I smiled. As little girls, Käthe and I were fond of What if games. While my sister's imagination did not encompass the uncanny, as mine and Josef's did, she had an extraordinary capacity for pretend nonetheless.

"What if, indeed?" I asked softly.

"Let's play," she said. "The Ideal Imaginary World. You first, Liesl."

"All right." I thought of Hans, then pushed him aside. "Josef would be a famous musician."

Käthe made a face. "It's always about Josef with you. Don't you have any dreams of your own?"

I did. They were locked up in a box, safe and sound beneath the bed we shared, never to be seen, never to be heard.

"Fine," I said. "You go, then, Käthe. Your Ideal Imaginary World."

She laughed, a bright, bell-like sound, the only musical thing about my sister. "I am a princess."


Käthe shot me a look. "I am a princess, and you are a queen. Happy now?" I waved her on.

"I am a princess," she continued. "Papa is the Prince-Bishop's Kapellmeister, and we all live in Salzburg."

Käthe and I had been born in Salzburg, when Papa was still a court musician and Mother a singer in a troupe, before poverty chased us to the backwoods of Bavaria.

"Mother is the toast of the city for her beauty and her voice, and Josef is Master Antonius's prize pupil."

"Studying in Salzburg?" I asked. "Not Vienna?"

"In Vienna, then," Käthe amended. "Oh yes, Vienna." Her blue eyes sparkled as she spun out her fantasy for us. "We would travel to visit him, of course. Perhaps we see him perform in the great cities of Paris, Mannheim, and Munich, maybe even London! We have a grand house in each city, trimmed with gold and marble and mahogany wood. We wear gowns made in the most luxurious silks and brocades, a different color for every day of the week. Invitations to the fanciest balls and parties and operas and plays flood our post every morning, and a bevy of swains storm the barricades for our favor. The greatest artists and musicians would consider us their intimate acquaintances, and we would dance and feast all night long on cake and pie and Schnitzel and —"

"Chocolate torte," I added. It was my favorite.

"Chocolate torte," Käthe agreed. "We would have the finest coaches and the handsomest horses and" — she squeaked as she slipped in a mud puddle — "never walk on foot through unpaved roads to market again."

I laughed, and helped her regain her footing. "Parties, balls, glittering society. Is that what princesses do? What of queens? What of me?"

"You?" Käthe fell silent for a moment. "No. Queens are destined for greatness."

"Greatness?" I mused. "A poor, plain little thing like me?"

"You have something much more enduring than beauty," she said severely.

"And what is that?"

"Grace," she said simply. "Grace, and talent."

I laughed. "So what is to be my destiny?"

She cut me a sidelong glance. "To be a composer of great renown."

A chill wind blew through me, freezing me to the marrow. It was as though my sister had reached into my breast and wrenched out my heart, still beating, with her fist. I had jotted down small snatches of melody here and there, scribbling little ditties instead of hymns into the corners of my Sunday chapbook, intending to gather them into sonatas and concertos, romances and symphonies someday. My hopes and dreams, so tattered and tender, had been sheltered by secrecy for so long I could not bear to bring them to light.

"Liesl?" Käthe tugged at my sleeve. "Liesl, are you all right?"

"How —" I said hoarsely. "How did you ..."

She squirmed. "I found your box of compositions beneath our bed one day. I swear I didn't mean any harm," she added quickly. "But I was looking for a button I'd dropped and ..." Her voice trailed off at the look upon my face.

My hands were shaking. How dare she? How dare she open my most private thoughts and expose them to her prying eyes?

"Liesl?" Käthe looked worried. "What's wrong?"

I did not answer. I could not answer, not when my sister would never understand just how she had trespassed against me. Käthe had not a modicum of musical ability, nearly a mortal sin in a family such as ours. I turned and marched down the path to market.

"What did I say?" My sister hurried to catch up with me. "I thought you'd be pleased. Now that Josef's going away, I thought Papa might — I mean, we all know you have just as much talent as —"

"Stop it." The words cracked in the autumn air, snapping beneath the coldness of my voice. "Stop it, Käthe."

Her cheeks reddened as though she had been slapped. "I don't understand you," she said.

"What don't you understand?"

"Why you hide behind Josef."

"What does Sepperl have to do with anything?"

Käthe narrowed her eyes. "For you? Everything. I bet you never kept your music secret from our little brother."

I paused. "He's different."

"Of course he's different." Käthe threw up her hands in exasperation. "Precious Josef, delicate Josef, talented Josef. He has music and madness and magic in his blood, something poor, ordinary, tone-deaf Katharina does not understand, could never understand."

I opened my mouth to protest, then shut it again. "Sepperl needs me," I said softly. It was true. Our brother was fragile, in more than just bones and blood.

"I need you," she said, and her voice was quiet. Hurt.

Constanze's words returned to me. Josef isn't the only one who needs looking after.

"You don't need me." I shook my head. "You have Hans now."


Excerpted from Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones. Copyright © 2017 S. Jae-Jones. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

S. Jae-Jones (called JJ) is an artist, an adrenaline junkie, and erstwhile editrix. When not obsessing over books, she can be found jumping out of perfectly good airplanes, co-hosting the Pub(lishing) Crawl podcast, or playing dress-up. Born and raised in Los Angeles, she now lives in North Carolina, as well as many other places on the internet, including Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, Instagram, and her blog.

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Wintersong 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
Anonymous 3 months ago
First time reading any of her books, a very well written book about love selflessness n finding your self.
Anonymous 12 days ago
I got so frustrated with drawout descriptions that i couldnt even finish reading it
Anonymous 27 days ago
This is what I imagined Labyrinth could be if it were not a young adult movie. But it has no real ending. I hope it's continued.
ShannonAThompson 27 days ago
Oh, Wintersong. How woefully wonderful you are. I truly loved this book...even the parts I disliked. Why? Because every uncomfortable bit fit the tale so well. Marketed as a Labyrinth retelling, I personally felt more of a Hades/Persephone vibe, and I enjoyed the despair, the rage, the contrite, and seduction. For the most part. I would caution young readers that this book leans more toward the adult side in regards to sex. (And definitely does not depict a healthy relationship.) There is plenty of manipulation, trickery, and embellished fights. But the extreme highs and lows come along with living in the Underground, I suppose. The romance felt less suiting for YA's usual coming of age tale and more like the struggles of an early twenty-something...if, you know, marry a Goblin King, who does some pretty deplorable things. That being said, he's one of my favorite anti-heros I've read in a while. He gives just enough to evoke hate and love and rejection and sympathy in readers in one chapter (and every chapter after). I'm a little sad we didn't learn more about him. There are some religious references, which normally turn me off in YA, but this time, they added an extra layer of guilt and hope and remorse that I soaked up. There was one twist in particular that I never saw coming, and I loved it. I wish (ha! I wish!) we had a little more action and a little less focus on romance, but Jae-Jones' writing style is to die for. Her prose drips with emotion, and the music breathes life into the tragic story. The underlying tale of choosing yourself, to be selfish, to do what you want (and need) to do despite consequences was refreshing as well. I would absolutely recommend it to romance readers who don't mind an anti-hero as the love interest. Or a dark myth to set the tone. A poetic, bittersweet ending. But I hear there's a sequel. I'll definitely check that out. Also, the author recently did an in-depth interview about this book on the podcast, PubCrawl. Check it out after you read it. (They discuss spoilers, but it’s a fantastic interview.) ~SAT Recommend to: YA paranormal/fantasy romance readers (who don't mind sex scenes). Fans of Labyrinth, or the Hades/Persephone myth. Anti-hero as love interest. Favorite Quote: "Loveliness of the spirit is worth more than loveliness of the flesh." (294) Favorite Word: Ouroboros: a circular symbol depicting a snake, or less commonly a dragon, swallowing its tail, as an emblem of wholeness or infinity: I no longer marked the passage of time; yesterday was today was tomorrow, an ouroboros of hours that circled back on themselves. (pg. 317)
AsDreamsAreMade 3 months ago
Original Review Link: http://asdreamsaremade.com/2017/01/book-tuesday-arc-wintersong/ What a book to return to reviewing with! I think my emotions are still reeling, but I’ll do my best (as always) to try and put them into some sort of coherent thought. Liesl has always been second to everyone in her life.  She walsys puts the needs of those around her above herself.  When her sister is taken from her by the Goblin King, Liesl agrees to take her place and become his bride.  In doing so, she learns so much about herself and the Goblin King.  In the end though, they’re forced to make a decision that could change them and their world forever. This book destroyed me, but in the best way possible. It was the book I needed to read right now.  I wasn’t expecting it to be, but it was.  There were a few issues I had with it, but overall, I really enjoyed it and I thought it was rather refreshing compared to many YA books out there.  It certainly doesn’t follow the usual tropes. The plot moved slowly, but steadily.  I was expecting more to happen at the beginning.  I really loved Liesl, or Elizabeth as she’s later called, and the journey she takes.  There’s a true sense of self growth. Her sister, Käthe, and brother, Josef, were great supporting characters for her and really shape who she is–until she meets the Goblin King.  The Goblin King. I wanted more of him.  We see glimpses of his back story and why he is the way he is, but in the end, his story is a bit unresolved. In terms of categorizing this book, Liesl is 19/20 years old and some scenes are rather strong in subject matter for a YA.  I can see how they get away with it, but still. That ending.  THAT ENDING. That ending was the source of my destruction.  But, like I said, in the best possible way.  I kept expecting a different scenario to occur, but I was proven wrong in the end. What I loved about this was it touched upon the idea that people come into our lives for a reason.  They change us and make us who we are — for better or worse.  I love that the author was brave enough to explore this when many often stray from that.  Sometimes a happy ending isn’t the type you wanted, but the type you needed.
LuluRoadsideReader 3 months ago
I can honestly say I don’t know how to feel about this, other than I feel strongly. Wintersong by S Jae Jones is beautiful, with grand, sweeping descriptions that envelope the reader in a faerie new world. But it is also not enough at times. There are characters you come to love and grieve for, and others you grow to tolerate. It definitely bears the marking of an author trying to strike the right balance between all of the different elements needed to make a story truly amazing. Jumping off of Christina Rossetti’s AMAZING Goblin Market poem, Jae Jones sets the bar high for her debut novel, perhaps unfairly so as it sets the readers aspirations aloft. You get a feeling that there’s danger and villainy abound. Yet, it never really feels that way, which was fine by me as I loved the Goblin King we did receive. But it sets up the expectation that things will be visceral, guttural, almost an assault upon the senses, yet still controlled and melodic. Instead, the senses are dulled, most probably because this is meant for a YA audience, therefore the mature scenes are skipped over or kept to a minimum, which is truly a shame because Jae Jones excelled at the small snippets that were there. Jae Jones also does melancholic longing amazingly well. The prologue, aka Overture, broke my heart and it was just the short tiny prologue. She immediately is able to convey the dynamic between Liesl and the Goblin King, as well as their entire history and everything that would ever be. If the prologue were made into a book, I’m pretty sure it would destroy me. Yet, we jump in at the tail end of a romance with a character that is almost unrecognizable from the prologue. And that’s where my main problem lies. What knocks the book down from what would otherwise have been an easy 5 stars, to 3 and a half. Liesl is so unbearably plain and passionless that it’s hard to care for her. She seems to lack a personality outside of music, outside of what she can do for others. This isn’t something that is remedied, even by the end of the book. I understand different heroines for different readers, but she just didn’t do it for me. She was too meek, too unlike the girl from the Overture. I can understand that life and responsibilities may have dulled her spark, but even while beside the Goblin King, she never truly seems to recover. The Goblin King, on the other hand, is an amazing character that shines in all regards. He is well rounded, as light and fun as he is broody and melancholic. Compassionate and giving as he is cruel. Handsome and loving, readers love him before they even know him, which makes his pairing beside Liesl so uncomfortable for me. Now, the reason I am overwhelmed with emotion, though which emotion I know not? THAT ENDING! It was expected and unexpected at once and just really makes you realize things about life and love and I want to talk more about it but spoilers and :( Wintersong by S Jae Jones is a tremendous debut novel that has some real strengths. Even with the stumbles, it leaves you feeling emotional and way too invested. With a bit more direction and time on character progression in the future, Jae Jones is well on her way to becoming a five-star author, whether she chooses to remain in YA or delve out. // I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this title. //
mdemanatee 3 months ago
I am a little conflicted because I really loved the conceit of this and the voice. But I wanted the mythology and rules to be a little more established. I loved the characters however, and their honestly and complexity. Certain events toward the end didn't feel as grounded. And the last third could feel a little rushed in comparison to the rest. But I loved the choices of the ending itself. It felt right and true the person Elisabeth had grown into. But it was often unclear what we were building toward, and some red herrings were planted.
Alyssa75 3 months ago
***Review posted on The Eater of Books! blog*** Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books Publication Date: February 7, 2017 Rating: 3 stars Source: eARC from NetGalley Summary (from Goodreads): 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. What I Liked: I know what you might be thinking: how did she not love this book to pieces? Why doesn't it say "5 stars", or at least "4 stars"? Believe me, I'm probably as surprised as you are. I fully expected to absolutely adore this book and gush about it after reading it. I expected to fall in love with a mesmerizing, seductive story; I didn't fall in love with the story, and (to me) it wasn't mesmerizing and seductive. Liesl (short for Elisabeth) is the oldest of three children. She is the plainest child, the one most often forgotten. Her sister Kathe is beautiful, curvy, and flirtatious. Her brother Josef is a musical prodigy, playing the violin like no other. Liesl herself is a genius composer, but only Josef knows about the music in her soul. And it's a music that the Goblin King wants. No one believes in the Goblin King, save Liesl's grandmother... and Liesl herself. When she was a little girl, she used to be friends with him. Now she is older and no longer believes in her childhood fantasies. But when her sister is taken by the Goblin King, Liesl immediately strikes a bargain with him to get her out. In exchange for her sister's life, Liesl will marry the Goblin King and live in the Underground. She is no longer alive to the above world, and her family will soon forget she existed. In the Underground, Liesl is captivated by the Goblin King, whom she is slowly remembering that she has known him her entire life. As they grow closer, Liesl finds herself creating more music, and developing strong feelings for him. But nothing lasts forever, and a price must be paid. There are consequences for every action, and Liesl must decide what to sacrifice once and for all. There are plenty of reasons to love this book, plenty of reasons why I understand the hype. For one, the writing is so beautiful. Read the rest of my review on my blog, The Eater of Books! - eaterofbooks DOT blogspot DOT com :)
Anonymous 3 months ago
I read this in a day because I could not put it down! Looking forward to her next book!
Anonymous 4 months ago
It's a dark tell of romance, adventure, and finding oneself. It's a tell of sacrifice, selfishness, and selflessness. It's the tell of a young female growing into a woman. It's dark, but there are glimmers of light and hope. It's a great read. Try the first 5 chapters free.
Candace-LoveyDoveyBooks 4 months ago
S. Jae-Jones's debut may indeed be the first fantasy novel that kept me grounded in deep thought instead of tumbling through a wild sea of adventure. Wintersong is a marvelous read that extends beyond romance and adventure to bring readers a magical coming of age tale set in the 19th century. The story takes an old familiar tale and weaves it into a brilliant, relatable novel. Liesl keeps her dreams of composing locked deep inside of her while putting her family's needs before her own. Until her encounter with the Goblin King she puts all her energy into making sure her sister marries a good man and her dear brother becomes the greatest violinist in the world. Traveling to the Underground brings her into a world that she's not quite prepared for, despite her grandmother's dedication to the old laws. What I love about her journey is that she realizes her own potential and builds confidence around her insecurities. It's a touching story for young women weighing the balance between reaching out for their dreams or taking a more practical path. While the story is not overly adventurous Liesl does find herself in precarious situations. The Goblin King is a mischievous adversary that becomes a lifeline for Liesl in her darkest moment. It balances out the literary aspects of the story. Wintersong invokes very powerful imagery for the reader that is due mostly in part to Jones's writing style. She doesn't cut corners when it comes to bold, vivid descriptions and accurate depictions. She managed to write a dark fantasy with hope straining along the edges of the plot. I can't imagine who could pick up Wintersong and not enjoy every word of it! *ARC provided via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*
book_junkee 4 months ago
I loved Labyrinth when I was younger and that was one of my main reasons for being interested in this book. Elisabeth is a decent MC. She's loyal to her family and adores her brother and sister. The passion she has for the music is one of the best things about her and this story. I was captivated at every scene she was composing. The Goblin King is quite interesting and I'll just leave it at that because maybe it's spoilery. I loved the overall mystery and slow burn, yet I would get quite bored at the same time. I wanted more between Elisabeth and the Goblin King. Even the explanations we got didn't seem like enough. And by the time I got to the ending {which I absolutely hated}, I wasn't clear on anything. Don't get me wrong, I did enjoy this book, but there was definitely something keeping me from being able to love it. **Huge thanks to Thomas Dunne and NetGalley for providing the arc free of charge**
onemused 4 months ago
"Wintersong" is a fairytale come to life, featuring Elisabeth (Liesl), the innkeeper's daughter, and the fabled Goblin King, Der Erlkonig. The Goblin King must steal a bride from the world above to maintain both the world above and the world below (of goblins and changelings and other magical creatures). The bride must die to fuel the spring and summer and take away the winter. This is the way it has always been. Liesl is a young composer at a time when it is impossible she should be anything other than a wife. She has been stifled and boxed, herself mostly hidden- as well as her memories of playing with the Goblin King as a child. Liesl adores her brother, Josef, with whom she shares her music. She is jealous of her sister, Kathe, who is beautiful. Liesl is not blessed in terms of her appearance, and she is well aware of the fact. The Goblin King comes to choose a bride and takes Liesl's sister, Kathe. Everyone else seems to have forgotten Kathe ever existed, and the Goblin King challenges Liesl to a game for her sister's life. Will she choose the pretty lie or the ugly truth? The story peels itself away in layers of lies and truths- what the bride means, what the king is, what Liesl and the King mean to each other. It evolves poetically and beautifully as does Liesl's music (oft a focus of the book). The prose is itself lyrical, and really elegantly written. The book is touching and harsh- it's a very emotional ride and impossible to put down or forget. Just like music, this story speaks to the soul. I am surprised this is a YA book- it has some very adult content (in terms of consummating the marriage) and is much deeper than most YA books will go. This is also not a book which could or does finish with everything wrapped up with a pretty bow. I don't want to give spoilers, so I won't say much, but this is not a story which ends with an across-the-board happily ever after. I see the comparisons to "Labyrinth" but I think this is something else entirely, and it reminds me more of the older fairytales which contained ugliness amongst the beauty. Overall, this was a beautiful and fantastic read- I am very curious to read more from this talented author. Please note that I received an ARC from the publisher through netgalley. All opinions are my own.