Shadowsong: A Novel

Shadowsong: A Novel

by S. Jae-Jones

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Overview

Shadowsong: A Novel by S. Jae-Jones

The conclusion to the gorgeous and lush Wintersong duology, Shadowsong by S. Jae-Jones.

Six months after the end of Wintersong, Liesl is working toward furthering both her brother’s and her own musical careers. Although she is determined to look forward and not behind, life in the world above is not as easy as Liesl had hoped. Her younger brother Josef is cold, distant, and withdrawn, while Liesl can’t forget the austere young man she left beneath the earth, and the music he inspired in her.

When troubling signs arise that the barrier between worlds is crumbling, Liesl must return to the Underground to unravel the mystery of life, death, and the Goblin King—who he was, who he is, and who he will be. What will it take to break the old laws once and for all? What is the true meaning of sacrifice when the fate of the world—or the ones Liesl loves—is in her hands?

“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 Timesbestselling author

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250129130
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication date: 02/06/2018
Series: Wintersong , #2
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 50,454
Product dimensions: 5.80(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.50(d)
Age Range: 12 - 18 Years

About 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. She is the author of Wintersong and Shadowsong.

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

PART I EVER THINE

I can only live, either altogether with you or not at all.

—Ludwig Van Beethoven, the Immortal Beloved letters

THE SUMMONS

"Absolutely not," Constanze said, thumping the floor with her cane. "I forbid it!"

We were all gathered in the kitchens after supper. Mother was washing up after the guests while Käthe threw together a quick meal of spätzle and fried onions for the rest of us. Josef's letter lay open and face up on the table, the source of my salvation and my grandmother's strife.

Master Antonius is dead. I am in Vienna. Come quickly.

Come quickly. My brother's words lay stark and simple on the page, but neither Constanze nor I could agree upon their meaning. I believed it was a summons. My grandmother believed otherwise.

"Forbid what?" I retorted. "Replying to Josef?"

"Indulging your brother in this nonsense!" Constanze pointed an accusing, emphatic finger at the letter on the table between us before sweeping her arm in a wild, vague gesture toward the dark outside, the unknown beyond our doorstep. "This ... this musical folly!"

"Nonsense?" Mother asked sharply, pausing in scrubbing out the pots and pans. "What nonsense, Constanze? His career, you mean?"

Last year, my brother left behind the world he had known to follow his dreams — our dreams — of becoming a world-class violinist. While running the inn had been our family's bread and butter for generations, music had ever and always been our manna. Papa was once a court musician in Salzburg, where he met Mother, who was then a singer in a troupe. But that had been before Papa's profligate and prodigal ways chased him back to the backwoods of Bavaria. Josef was the best and brightest of us, the most educated, the most disciplined, the most talented, and he had done what the rest of us had not or could not: he had escaped.

"None of your business," Constanze snapped at her daughter-in-law. "Keep that sharp, shrewish nose out of matters about which you know nothing."

"It is too my business." Mother's nostrils flared. Cool, calm, and collected had ever been her way, but our grandmother knew how best to get under her skin. "Josef is my son."

"He is Der Erlkönig's own," Constanze muttered, her dark eyes alight with feverish faith. "And none of yours."

Mother rolled her eyes and resumed the washing up. "Enough with the goblins and gobbledygook, you old hag. Josef is too old for fairy tales and hokum."

"Tell that to that one!" Constanze leveled her gnarled finger at me, and I felt the force of her fervor like a bolt to the chest. "She believes. She knows. She carries the imprint of the Goblin King's touch upon her soul."

A frisson of unease skittered up my spine, icy fingertips skimming my skin. I said nothing, but felt Käthe's curious glance upon my face. Once she might have scoffed along with Mother at our grandmother's superstitious babble, but my sister was changed.

I was changed.

"We must think of Josef's future," I said quietly. "What he needs."

But what did my brother need? The post had only just come the day before, but already I had read his reply into thinness, the letter turned fragile with my unasked and unanswered questions. Come quickly. What did he mean? To join him? How? Why?

"What Josef needs," Constanze said, "is to come home."

"And just what is there for my son to come home to?" Mother asked, angrily attacking old rust stains on a dented pot.

Käthe and I exchanged glances, but kept our hands busy and our mouths shut.

"Nothing, that's what," she continued bitterly. "Nothing but a long, slow trek to the poorhouse." She set down the scrubbing brush with a sudden clang, pinching the bridge of her nose with a soapy hand. The furrow between her brows had come and gone, come and gone ever since Papa's death, digging in deeper and deeper with each passing day.

"And leave Josef to fend for himself?" I asked. "What is he going to do so far away and without friends?"

Mother bit her lip. "What would you have us do?"

I had no answer. We did not have the funds to either send ourselves or to bring him home.

She shook her head. "No," she said decisively. "It's better that Josef stay in Vienna. Try his luck and make his mark on the world as God intended."

"It doesn't matter what God intends," Constanze said darkly, "but what the old laws demand. Cheat them of their sacrifice, and we all pay the price. The Hunt comes, and brings with them death, doom, and destruction."

A sudden hiss of pain. I looked up in alarm to see Käthe suck at her knuckles where she had accidentally cut herself with the knife. She quickly resumed cooking dinner, but her hands trembled as she sliced wet dough for noodles. I rose to my feet and took over making spätzle from my sister as she gratefully moved to frying the onions.

Mother made a disgusted noise. "Not this again." She and Constanze had been at each other's throats for as long as I could remember, the sound of their bickering as familiar as the sound of Josef practicing his scales. Not even Papa had been able to make peace between them, for he always deferred to his mother even as he preferred to side with his wife. "If I weren't already certain of your comfortable perch in Hell, thou haranguing harpy, I would pray for your eternal soul."

Constanze banged her hand on the table, making the letter — and the rest of us — jump. "Can't you see it is Josef's soul I am trying to save?" she shouted, spittle flying from her lips.

We were taken aback. Despite her irritable and irascible nature, Constanze rarely lost her temper. She was, in her own way, as consistent and reliable as a metronome, ticking back and forth between contempt and disdain. Our grandmother was fearsome, not fearful.

Then my brother's voice returned to me. I was born here. I was meant to die here.

I sloppily dumped the noodles into the pot, splashing myself with scalding hot water. Unbidden, the image of coal black eyes in a sharp-featured face rose up from the depths of memory.

"Girl," Constanze rasped, fixing her dark eyes on me. "You know what he is."

I said nothing. The burble of boiling water and the sizzle of sautéing onions were the only sounds in the kitchen as Käthe and I finished cooking.

"What?" Mother asked. "What do you mean?" Käthe glanced at me sidelong, but I merely strained the spätzle and tossed the noodles into the skillet with the onions.

"What on earth are you talking about?" Mother demanded. She turned to me. "Liesl?"

I beckoned to Käthe to bring me the plates and began serving supper.

"Well?" Constanze smirked. "What say you, girlie?"

You know what he is.

I thought of the careless wishes I had made into the dark as a child — for beauty, for validation, for praise — but none had been as fervent or as desperate as the one I had made when I heard my brother crying feebly into the night. Käthe, Josef, and I had all been stricken with scarlatina when we were young. Käthe and I were small children, but Josef had been but a baby. The worst had passed for my sister and me, but my brother emerged from the illness a different child.

A changeling.

"I know exactly who my brother is," I said in a low voice, more to myself than to my grandmother. I set a dish heaped high with noodles and onions in front of her. "Eat up."

"Then you know why it is Josef must return," Constanze said. "Why he must come home and live."

We all come back in the end.

A changeling could not wander far from the Underground, lest they wither and fade. My brother could not live beyond the reach of Der Erlkönig, save by the power of love. My love. It was what kept him free.

Then I remembered the feel of spindly fingers crawling over my skin like bramble branches, a face wrought of hands, and a thousand hissing voices whispering, Your love is a cage, mortal.

I looked to the letter on the table. Come quickly.

"Are you going to eat your supper?" I asked, glancing pointedly at Constanze's full plate.

She gave her food a haughty look and sniffed. "I'm not hungry."

"Well, you're not getting anything else, you ungrateful nag." Mother angrily stabbed at her supper with her fork. "We can't afford to cater to your particular tastes. We can barely afford to feed ourselves as it is."

Her words dropped with a thud in the middle of our dinner. Chastened, Constanze picked up her fork and began eating, chewing around that depressing pronouncement. Although we had settled all of Papa's debts after he died, for every bill we paid, yet another sprung up in its place, leaks on a sinking ship.

Once we were finished with supper, Käthe cleared the plates while I began the washing up.

"Come," Mother said, extending her arm to Constanze. "Let's get you to bed."

"No, not you," my grandmother said with disgust. "You're useless, you are. The girl can help me upstairs."

"The girl has a name," I said, not looking at her.

"Was I talking to you, Elisabeth?" Constanze snapped.

Startled, I lifted my head from the dishes to see my grandmother glaring at Käthe.

"Me?" my sister asked, surprised.

"Yes, you, Magda," Constanze said irritably. "Who else?"

Magda? I looked at Käthe, then at Mother, who seemed as bewildered as the rest of us. Go, she mouthed to my sister. Käthe made a face, but offered her arm to our grandmother, wincing as Constanze gripped it with all her spiteful strength.

"I swear," Mother said softly, watching the two of them disappear up the stairs together. "She grows madder by the day."

I returned to washing the dishes. "She's old," I said. "It's to be expected, perhaps."

Mother snorted. "My grandmother remained sharp until the day she died, and she was older than Constanze by an age."

I said nothing, dunking the plates in a clean tub of water before handing them to Mother to dry.

"Best not indulge her," she said, more to herself than to me. "Elves. Wild Hunt. The end of the world. One might almost think she actually believes these fairy stories."

Finding a clean corner of my apron, I picked up a plate and joined Mother in drying the dishes. "She's old," I said again. "Those superstitions have been around these parts forever."

"Yes, but they're just stories," she said impatiently. "No one believes them to be true. Sometimes I'm not sure if Constanze knows whether we live in reality or a fairy tale of her own making."

I said nothing. Mother and I finished drying the dishes and put them away, wiped down the counters and tabletops, and swept up what little dirt there was on the kitchen floor before making our separate ways toward our rooms.

Despite what Mother believed, we were not living in a fairy tale of Constanze's own making, but a terrible, terrible reality. A reality of sacrifices and bargains, goblins and Lorelei, of myth and magic and the Underground. I who had grown up with my grandmother's stories, I who had been the Goblin King's bride and walked away knew better than anyone the consequences of crossing the old laws that governed life and death. What was real and what was false was as unreliable as memory, and I lived in the in-between spaces, between the pretty lie and the ugly truth. But I did not speak of it. Could not speak of it.

For if Constanze was going mad, then so was I.

The boy's playing was magic, it was said, and those of discerning taste and even deeper pockets lined up outside the concert hall for a journey into the realms of the unknown. The venue was small and intimate, seating but twenty or so, but it was the largest gathering for which the boy and his companion had ever played, and he was nervous.

His master was a famous violinist, an Italian genius, but age and rheumatism had long since twisted the old man's fingers into stillness. In the maestro's prime, it was said Giovanni Antonius Rossi could make the angels weep and the devil dance with his playing, and the concertgoers hoped that even a glimmer of the old virtuoso's gifts could be heard in his mysterious young pupil.

A foundling, a changeling, the concertgoers whispered. Discovered playing on the side of the road in the backwoods of Bavaria.

The boy had a name, but it was lost amidst the murmurs. Master Antonius's student. The golden-haired angel. The fair youth. His name was Josef, but no one remembered, save for his companion, his accompanist, his beloved.

The companion had a name as well, but there were none who thought it worth noting. The dark-skinned boy. The Negro. The servant. His name was François, but no one bothered to use it, save for Josef, who held his beloved's name on his lips and in his heart.

The concert marked Josef's introduction to cultured Viennese society. Ever since France had beheaded or expelled the nobles from their borders, Master Antonius found his coffers growing lean in his adopted Parisian home, with wealthy patrons emptying their funds into Bonaparte's army. So the old virtuoso left the city of revolution and returned to the city of his greatest triumphs with the hopes of hooking golden fish with younger, prettier bait. At present they were hosted by the Baroness von Schenk, in whose salon the performance was to be held.

"Do not fail me, boy," the maestro said as they stood in the wings, waiting for their entrance. "Our livelihood depends on you."

"Yes, maestro," Josef said, his throat hoarse. He had slept ill the night before, his stomach knotted tight with nerves, his dreams broken by the half-remembered sound of thundering hooves.

"Keep your head together," Master Antonius said warningly. "None of this whining and crying for home. You are a man now. Be strong."

Josef swallowed and looked to François. The youth gave a slight reassuring nod, a gesture not lost on their teacher.

"Enough," Master Antonius growled. "You," he said, pointing to François, "stop indulging him, and you"— he pointed to Josef —"pull yourself together. We cannot afford to lose our heads now. We will start with a few selections I have composed, then we will move on to the Mozart as planned, ça va?" Josef shrank beneath his master's glower. "Yes, maestro," he whispered.

"If you are good — and only if you are good — you may play Vivaldi for the encore." The old virtuoso pinned his pupil with a beady glare. "None of that Der Erlkönig nonsense. This audience is used to the music of the greats. Do not insult their ears with that monstrosity."

"Yes, maestro." Josef's voice was scarcely audible.

François took note of the boy's flushed cheeks and clenched jaw, and wrapped his warm hand around his beloved's tightened fists. Be patient, mon coeur, the touch seemed to say.

But the other boy did not reply.

Master Antonius parted the curtains and the boys walked out before the audience to polite applause. François sat himself down at the pianoforte while Josef readied his violin. They shared a look, a moment, a feeling, a question.

The concert began as planned, with the pupil playing selections composed by the master, accompanied by the youth at the keyboard. But the audience was old, and they remembered how divine the master's playing, how transporting the sound. This boy was good: the notes were clear, the phrasing elegant. But there was something missing perhaps — a soul, a spark. It was like hearing the words of a favorite poet translated into a foreign tongue.

Perhaps they had expected too much. Talent was fickle, after all, and those who burned brightest with it often did not last.

The angels take Antonius if the devil does not get to him first, they once said of the old virtuoso. Such gifts were not meant for mortal ears.

Age had gotten to Master Antonius before either God or the Devil, but it did not seem as though his pupil were graced with the same divine spark. The audience dutifully clapped between each piece and resigned themselves to a long evening of little significance, while from the wings, the old virtuoso fretted and fumed at his pupil's diminishing returns.

Another set of eyes watched the performing pair from the opposite wing. The eyes were the startling, vivid green of emeralds or the deep waters of a summer lake, and in the dark, they glowed.

Selections finished, Josef and François moved on to a Mozart sonata. The room fell quiet, dull, laden with the inattentive lull of genteel boredom. A soft snore rose from the back of the salon, and in the wings, Master Antonius silently seethed. Yet still those green eyes watched the boys from the shadows opposite. Waiting. Wanting.

When the concert was over, the audience rose to their feet, perfunctorily calling for an encore. Josef and François bowed, while Master Antonius gripped his wig, sending plumes of powder into the air. Vivaldi save us, he thought. The Red Priest hear my prayer. Josef and François bowed once more, sharing another private look, the answer to an unspoken question.

The youth settled himself back by the keyboard, dark fingers and white-laced wrists poised over black sharps and natural ivories. The boy tucked his violin under his chin and raised his bow, the horsehair quivering with anticipation. Josef gave the tempo and François responded in kind, the two of them weaving a tapestry of melody between them.

It was not Vivaldi.

(Continues…)



Excerpted from "Shadowsong"
by .
Copyright © 2018 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.

Table of Contents

Title Page,
Copyright Notice,
Dedication,
Acknowledgments,
Author's Note,
Epigraph,
Part I: Ever Thine,
The Summons,
The Price of Salt,
The Mad, The Fearful, The Faithful,
The Use of Running,
A Maelstrom in the Blood,
A Kingdom to Outrun,
Interlude,
Part II: Ever Mine,
Strange Proclivities,
Faultlines,
The House of Madmen and Dreamers,
The Labyrinth,
Sheep Skins,
Der Erlkönig's Own,
The End of the World,
Interlude,
Part III: Ever Ours,
Snovin Hall,
The Kinship Between Us,
The Brave Maiden's Tale, Reprise,
The Old Monastery,
The Monster I Claim,
Changeling,
Intermezzo: Into that World Inverted,
Oblivion,
He Is for Der Erlkönig Now,
Brave Maiden's End,
Interlude,
Part IV: Immortal Beloved,
The Return of the Goblin Queen,
Inside Out,
A Whole Heart and a World Entire,
Finale,
Coda,
A Guide to Names and Titles,
A Guide to German Phrases,
A Guide to Musical Terms,
Also by S. Jae-Jones,
About the Author,
Copyright,

What People are Saying About This

#1 New York Times bestselling author - Renee Ahdieh

"Spellbinding and sexy, Wintersong is a feast for all the senses. I didn't want this beautifully written book to end."

Customer Reviews

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Shadowsong 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 17 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The author maintains her lyrical, enchanting writing in her sequel Shadowsong, and despite this novel taking a unexpected path following Wintersong, it was still hauntingly beautiful read. Shadowsong focuses on Liesl/Elisabeth traversing the darkness of her mind and struggling to come into her own as a strong, independent woman. There is also heavy focus on the sibling relationship of Liesl and Josef (and of Liesl and Kathe as well), and I did enjoy delving into each character and their bond with their sibling(s). Although I will say, both Liesl and Josef were maddening at times (as they were meant to be). I was truly disappointed by the Goblin King's minor role in this story. We do learn more about his past, but he was such an intriguing character in Wintersong that I couldn't help but want more of him in Shadowsong. Alas, this was not the case, and as such, I felt no true development in Elisabeth's relationship with the Goblin King. My favorite aspect of this book was Snovin Hall. It was dilapidated and haunted, yet lovely and enchanted, and I could picture it perfectly in my mind. The decrepit castle, the monastery, the mirror room, the meadow, the poppies, the lake, all of it. Add in the Count and Countess, the creepy hosts/captors, and it was perfectly eerie and magical. The ending was heart-breaking and beautiful and exactly as it should be....and I even anticipated parts of it back when I read Wintersong! I do wish it wouldn't have wrapped up so quickly though. After everything that came before, I wanted a bit more build-up before the final resolution. Was Shadowsong what I expected? No. Was it worth the read? Absolutely. The author does mention trigger warnings before the story begins, and her foreward was enlightening and very much appreciated. ***I voluntarily read and reviewed an Advance Reader Copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley.***
Book_and_recipe_Examiner 3 months ago
Liesl has left Der Erlkonig and the Underground to be with her family, who needs her desperately. But Leisl’s Papa has died, Josef is not answering her letters, the inn is floundering to even keep feeding the remaining family, Constanze is somehow growing madder, terrified of the Goblin King’s Wild Hunt, and Liesl can no longer play her music. Inspiration has died, and she is more depressed and lonely than she ever was far away Underground with her Goblin King. Then all seems saved, when an unimaginably wealthy benefactor who has heard Liesl’s composition, the Wedding Night Sonata, sends her a letter wishing not only to be her patron, but to fulfill every financial desire she and her family have ever had, and allow Liesl, Kathe, Joseph, and even his beloved companion Francois to stay in one of their mansions and compose and play and surrender to the arts. But generosity, as all things, comes with a price, and it is said in Vienna and whispered among servants that the wealthy benefactor and his wife have “strange proclivities” and that Liesl and company must beware what recompense may be asked of her. Shadowsong is the conclusion and closure that all who loved Wintersong have yearned for, with a riveting ending about sacrifice and love.
JLAustin 5 months ago
S.J. Jones has not been shy about talking about her own struggles with mental illness and I love how she wove that into this gorgeous and heartrending story of persons coping with their own truths.
TheThoughtSpot 10 months ago
Beautiful prose and loyal, loving characters! Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for the opportunity to read and review Shadowsong by S. Jae Jones! At the onset, the author warns about content being possibly triggering due to the addressing of the issues of self-harm, addiction, reckless behaviors and suicidal ideation. Resources are also given to help. These issues have been a part of the author’s life and reality. This has given her a true understanding of these topics. The characters reveal themselves in more than one way. Elisabeth, her brother Josef, sister Kathe and Francois, Josef’s accompaniest and friend, travel to Venice after being summoned by an unknown benefactor. The story takes place during the height of classical music. The family has a curse that some call insanity. They see goblins, the Goblin King and kingdom. The siblings are separated by the benefactors, the Count and Countess take Elisabeth and Josef to Snovin Hall for their safety while Kathe and Francois are sent away. Both parties don’t know what has happened to the other pair and are deeply concerned for them. I love the story of the wheelwright, with his loss, supposed madness and death. Beautiful writing that truly showcases the author’s work. Beautiful prose and loyal, loving characters make this story interesting and the dark danger makes it exciting. 5 stars! * I received a complimentary copy of this book for voluntary review consideration.
TheThoughtSpot 10 months ago
Beautiful prose and loyal, loving characters! Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for the opportunity to read and review Shadowsong by S. Jae Jones! At the onset, the author warns about content being possibly triggering due to the addressing of the issues of self-harm, addiction, reckless behaviors and suicidal ideation. Resources are also given to help. These issues have been a part of the author’s life and reality. This has given her a true understanding of these topics. The characters reveal themselves in more than one way. Elisabeth, her brother Josef, sister Kathe and Francois, Josef’s accompaniest and friend, travel to Venice after being summoned by an unknown benefactor. The story takes place during the height of classical music. The family has a curse that some call insanity. They see goblins, the Goblin King and kingdom. The siblings are separated by the benefactors, the Count and Countess take Elisabeth and Josef to Snovin Hall for their safety while Kathe and Francois are sent away. Both parties don’t know what has happened to the other pair and are deeply concerned for them. I love the story of the wheelwright, with his loss, supposed madness and death. Beautiful writing that truly showcases the author’s work. Beautiful prose and loyal, loving characters make this story interesting and the dark danger makes it exciting. 5 stars! * I received a complimentary copy of this book for voluntary review consideration.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I received a copy of this novel in exchange for a review. This does not affect my rating in any way. This book was an honest disappointment to me. I enjoyed the first one, and while it was slow, it did have a plot. This one seemed to be lacking one to me. There was also very little Goblin King at all in this one, and he is one of the main reasons people read these books. I think I expected a bit more out of this one since I enjoyed Wintersong so much. The overall story for this one made it a struggle to finish the book, and it could be because I thought the plot was too slow moving. For a sequel the world- building should be almost done, and this should have been where action and events happen, but it was definitely lacking.
LindaTownsend More than 1 year ago
Once there was a little girl, who played her music for a little boy in the wood. She was an innkeeper’s daughter and he was the Lord of Mischief, but neither were wholly what they seemed, for nothing is as simple as a fairy tale. Wintersong swept me away last year with its fractured retelling of Labyrinth. I loved the intricate, vividly-written tale, but it lacked an HEA. I craved more of the tension and chemistry that had permeated Liesl’s and The Goblin King’s bond. I had high hopes that Shadowsong by S. Jae-Jones would pick up where Wintersong left us and feature and provide a happy ending for the relationship of Liesl and the Goblin King. Instead, Shadowsong embarked in an utterly unforeseen direction. I’m still pondering how I feel about it, but confess to some disappointment – totally self-inflicted because of my presumptions. Shadowsong focuses on Liesl's self-discovery journey with a bit of mystery and intrigue. Her journey is closely tied with her brother’s so the tale delves heavily into her relationship with her younger brother from the beginning. Her story waivers between madness and melancholy. Her story is intense, graphic, somber and dark as she searches for her entire self. There’s very little in the way of apearances of her austere young man aka The Goblin King from the previous installment though there’s much longing on Liesl’s part for the Goblin Queen she was and the closeness they had shared. Not that he’s not in this tale. He’s there, but not there. We catch glimpses of him lasting seconds, if that; and then he’s gone leading us to wonder if we really did see him. He is depicted as being more monster than man as he leads the Wild Hunt, a scary spectacle that rides when there is an imbalance between the Underground and the land of the living. Liesl actually bears responsibility for the Hunt because she crossed the barrier between the two worlds when she walked away from her Goblin King and their vows at the end of Wintersong. Her leaving left a rip in the fabric of the world allowing the spirits, ghouls and denizens of the Underground to escape. Unfortunately, the Underworld, itself, is sparse in this sequel and reliving their romance is only via rehashed memories. The end result is not bad, just not what I’d wished for. Wintersong was passionate and full of fire. Shadowsong is maniacal and cuts to the quick. Wintersong focused on Liesel’s and The Goblin King’s relationship; Shadowsong focuses on Liesel’s relationship with herself and her brother. Both books are blessed by the author’s wonderfully romantic and descriptive prose and they are each uniquely poignant tales. Unfortunately, Shadowsong dragged for me once the setting moved to Vienna and remained slow until the last fifty-pages or so. However, those last few pages re-energized the story, as it spun topsy-turvy to its surprising conclusion. I would mention that the author includes a note of warning regarding possible triggers of suicidal thoughts, addiction, self-harm and bipolar disorder while reading as this story is indeed emotionally heart-wrenching and teeming with raw emotion. If you require sunshine and rainbows in your books, please find them elsewhere as they do not reside in Shadowsong. If you loved Wintersong, I’d highly encourage you to pick up Shadowsong. That said, do not try to jump into Shadowsong without reading Wintersong as these novels should be read in their proper order. Since I finished it, when I close my eyes, I get goose bumps
Arys More than 1 year ago
Shadowsong by S. Jae Jones is Winterson #2. As Liesl returns to the world above things have changed, her brother has changed and things are not all she had anticipated. When circumstances cause her to return Underground she has no idea the complications in front of her. Shadowsong, like Wintersong is a complex book with intricate details. The world building is rich and the characters are challenged. To be honest Shadowsong focused different from where I thought it would, but the dynamic between Liesl and Josef that S. Jae Jones explores gives it a focus all it's own. More than anything the writing and imagery is what I enjoyed in this book. Complicated ideas are explored that make you think and it can be more than just a book to some. As you read Shadowsong, twist and turns will abound. I recommend Shadowsong by S. Jae Jones and hope to read more by her in the future. (I voluntarily reviewed an ARC of this book I received for free from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my open and honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.)
Alyssa75 More than 1 year ago
***Review posted on The Eater of Books! blog*** Shadowsong by S. Jae-Jones Book Two of the Wintersong series Publisher: St. Martin's Press Publication Date: February 6, 2018 Rating: 2 stars Source: eARC from NetGalley Summary (from Goodreads): Six months after the end of Wintersong, Liesl is working toward furthering both her brother’s and her own musical careers. Although she is determined to look forward and not behind, life in the world above is not as easy as Liesl had hoped. Her younger brother Josef is cold, distant, and withdrawn, while Liesl can’t forget the austere young man she left beneath the earth, and the music he inspired in her. When troubling signs arise that the barrier between worlds is crumbling, Liesl must return to the Underground to unravel the mystery of life, death, and the Goblin King—who he was, who he is, and who he will be. What will it take to break the old laws once and for all? What is the true meaning of sacrifice when the fate of the world—or the ones Liesl loves—is in her hands? What I Liked: Shadowsong wasn't what I expected. Where Wintersong was focused on Liesl and the Goblin King's connection and relationship, Shadowsong was focused on Liesl and her relationship with her brother Josef. I thought this book would focus more on the Goblin King, from what I'd heard last year. Instead, the Goblin King was barely mentioned in this book. I was disappointed in that regard, and disappointed in the lack of music and whimsy in this book. It was a dark book, which I respect and admire, but it was nothing like Wintersong and nothing like my expectations following the announcement of this sequel. This book takes place six months after Liesl leaves the Underground, and the Goblin King. She has been writing to her brother, desperate to hear how he is doing in Vienna, with his prestigious music instructor. One day he writes back, stating that the instructor is dead, and for her to come to Vienna. With the help of a mysterious benefactor, Liesl is able to travel to Vienna with her sister Kathe. They find Josef, but Josef is no longer who he wants was. He is distant and disinterested. And there is something strange about Liesl's benefactors. All the while, the Great Hunt is roaming the earth, and the barrier between worlds is thinning. Liesl must travel back to the Underground and make a final stand as the Goblin Queen, in order to save her world, or theirs. The author's note talks about Liesl's bipolar disorder (or "madness", as bipolar disorder was not understand during this time period). Possibly the best/most well-written aspect of this book is the darkness and madness that Liesl struggles with. Liesl is constantly wrestling with herself - is she mad? Or is she lost in her sanity? She feels her loneliness acutely, just as she feels guilt and shame over her brother's distance from her. I may not have enjoyed this book or reading about this darkness in Liesl, but I have to admit that all of it was well-written. The same can be said about Josef's "madness". This book is written mostly from Liesl's first-person POV, but with certain parts of a chapter written from Josef's third-person POV. There was another portion of certain chapters featuring a tale of old, which comes together at the end of the book. Read the rest of my review on my blog, The Eater of Books! - eaterofbooks DOT blogspot DOT com :)
KarenfromDothan More than 1 year ago
A story about two siblings, Liesl and Josef. They’re both musically gifted, Liesl as a composer and Josef plays the violin. The two share a strong connection to each other and to another world called the Underground where the Goblin King rules. You see, Liesl is the Goblin King’s bride and Josef is a changeling. The sequel to Wintersong, is a dark, moody novel. The story is told from Liesl’s point of view. She is a very conflicted character, who does a lot of soul searching as she tries to decide what to do. The plot moves along slowly while she is coming to grips with her life. She has a big decision to make and the fate of the whole world rests in her hands. This is an unusual love story, and I really wanted to love it, but it just didn’t do it for me. If you enjoyed the first book and want to see how the story ends, or enjoy atmospheric love stories then this book might be for you.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wintersong captured my heart from the beginning. Absolutely one of my favorite books! I had high expectations with Shadowsong and was unfortunately disappointed. I was given great insight to Liesl's family. Her emotions were tremendously felt throughout the book. But.....I wanted more of the Goblin King. He is an essential character. The relationship between Liesl and the Lord of Mischief kept me wanting more. Shadowsong is worth the read but solely for the purpose of having an end.
JenLBW More than 1 year ago
As a note. The Author’s note actually gives a trigger warning for Self-harm, Addiction Reckless behaviours and Suicidal ideation. I’m not even sure what I was expecting going into Shadowsong from Wintersong. I had loved Wintersong and I was actually okay with the ending. Sometimes I don’t mind seemingly loose ends. I feel Shadowsong really does a great job of wrapping up the ending in a way that makes sense. The plot had a slow start for me. I was frustrated with both Liesel and Josef. Josef was being such a jerk and Liesel, well it felt like she was a shadow of the kick butt girl I remembered from the first book. She is so clearly wrapped up in her struggle to leave behind the Underground and the Goblin King that she is completely unaware of things happening around her. There is a point where things change and the book picks up in all the ways it needs. Once the Countess and Count enter the picture things get more interesting. This book is more about Lisel and Josef and their relationship then it is about Lisel and the Goblin King. Although he is not completely absent either. Again I was frustrated with Josef for being a jerk but it was interesting to see Lisel see herself from Josef’s eyes. Despite my frustrations with her, she actually experiences quit a bit of growth. To see the things she has done and how that has affected others. Kathe and Francois felt a bit under used as characters but they also still have a presence. There is more insight into what Der Erlkonig’s own really means. We also get to delve more into the history of the Goblin King and the first bride. I found those aspects really contributed to the understanding of the world as a whole. I was excited to learn more. I loved the way the pieces slowly fit together and eventually will reveal what makes the Goblin King, the Goblin King. The writing is lyrical and haunting. Almost like you are lost in the pages of a song. You can still feel how much music is a part of everything. Since it’s such a special part of Lisel, Josef and the Goblin King. I’m glad that it didn’t fade from the first book. I enjoyed the book. I really like how things were wrapped up in the end.
Monnie777 More than 1 year ago
This is the second book after Wintersong and you really need to read that one first to be able to follow this one. It's a good book so I would recommend reading it anyway. So we revisit Elisabeth after she returns to her world. She of course does go on with her life but really it's only a half life as her heart is still with the Goblin King. A lot happens in this book to get us to the end, some ways it is very convoluted on how we get to the end. I do think that everything that happens and brings us to the end is how it should go, otherwise we would not get there. *Thank you NetGalley for allowing me to read this for my honest opinion*
book_junkee More than 1 year ago
3.5 stars I’m not really sure how to feel about this one, but I think if I reread it again when it’s a physical copy, my rating will change. The formatting of my e-arc is jumbled and full sentences are displaced and the chapter headings didn’t make sense. It made it difficult to follow along at times. First off, the thing I loved most about Wintersong was Liesl and the Goblin King together. The tension and their chemistry were fantastic. All of that is missing from this story because they are separated the entire time. Okay, that’s not entirely true, but the scenes of him coming to her were for brief seconds and very odd to me. Oh, and there’s no kissing. Plot wise, this book is all about the relationship between Liesl and Josef. I enjoyed getting more of their dynamic, especially once things started unraveling. It does move a bit slow and while the writing is lovely, it did get dense in some parts. I liked that there were full explanations to everything and the last 3 or so chapters {I’m guessing. See above about the headings.} were absolute perfection. Overall, it was captivating and satisfying, yet it is still missing something to make me rabid for it. I will try this one again when I get a finished copy and I can’t wait to see what JJ puts out next. **Huge thanks to Wednesday Books for providing the arc free of charge**
ShesGoingBookCrazy More than 1 year ago
I recieved a copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. For anyone who has read Wintersong, be prepared, because this sequel is probably not what you are expecting. But trust me, if you allow yourself the opportunity, this book can sweep you away in a storm of folklore, complexity, and utter lyrical beauty all on its own. Just as I had written in my review for Wintersong, the writing in Shadowsong has a way of making me feel raw. These characters, Liesl, Josef, Kathe, the Goblin King, are utterly stripped of their complexity and bared for the entire world to see their soul. The writing quality has surpassed my expectations in this series and made me appreciate Jae-Jones as an author immensely. What I appreciate most is the risk she took to also bare her own soul within these characters. "Madness is a strange word. It encompasses any sort of behavior or thought pattern that deviates from the norm, not just mental illness. I, like Liesl, am a functioning member of society, but our mental illnesses make us mad. They make us arrogant, moody, selfish, and reckless, They make us destructive, to both ourselves and to those we love. We are not easy to love, Liesl and I, and I did not want to face that ugly truth." In the author note, she also noted that there is content such as: self-harm, addiction, reckless behavior, and suicide ideation. These traits are shared among several members of the cast. "How can I go on when I am haunted by ghosts? I feel him, Sepp. I feel the Goblin King when I play, when I work on the Wedding Night Sonata. The touch of his hand upon my hair. The press of his lips against my cheek. The sound of his voice, whispering my name. There is madness in our bloodline." Despite this fact, I think this was a wonderful read. I was utterly surprised by the complexity of this duology. From what I gathered in Wintersong, I did not foresee the path in which this plot would traverse. Shadowsong is a mix of retellings between Goblin Market, the story of Hades and Persephone, and the Wild Hunt. Majority of the time, the plot walks a narrow path, dipping toes in both the fantastical and reality, obscuring which is which. I believe the way in which this book is written is figurative to Liesl's experience as a character. Her constant battle between living in the "real world," yet, being enticed by the underground and back to her beloved is palpable. "I who had grown up with my grandmother's stories, I who had been the Goblin King's bride and walked away knew better than anyone the consequences of crossing the old laws that governed life and death. What was real and what was false was as unreliable as memory, and I lived in the in-between spaces, between the pretty lie and the ugly truth. But I did not speak of it. Could not speak of it." Liesl's fears and deliberations are not without merit. She knows, along with those that still hold to the Old Laws, that there are consequences for each and every action. The Old Laws must be appeased. By thwarting them, the Wild Hunt occurs, seeking souls to balance the scales. As the threat draws nearer, Liesl grows more erratic in her deliberations, trying to protect her sister Kathe, repair her relationship with her brother Josef, and learn to live with herself and accept who she is. Acceptance proves to be a main theme throughout this story. Each character struggles with acceptance of a certain truth in their life, but instead, try to ignore it. My rating: 5 stars!
onemused More than 1 year ago
"Shadowsong" is the YA/NA fantasy continuation of "Wintersong" but with a darker overall tone. This book takes place 6 months after Wintersong ended and follows primarily Leisl and Josef (about 98% of the book with only a few glances at the Goblin King/der Erlkonig). Leisl's family is struggling to run the Inn since her father's death. They cannot afford food or other goods, and no one is willing to extend the line of credit for a widow and her daughters very far. To make things worse, Constanze (Leisls grandmother) is losing touch with reality and calling Leisl and Kathe by her sisters' names and pouring salt everywhere, seemingly to protect them from The Hunt (composed of goblins and The Goblin King). Leisl has lost touch with her music, unable to compose, and unable to finish her Wedding Night Sonata. Josef is fading away, a husk of his former self. His master works Francois and him hard to perform music well and has prevented them from playing Der Erlkonig, Leisl's composition. The only time when he feels like himself is when he plays it, as it seems to thin the veil between worlds. After one fateful night when they perform it anyway, their master ends up dead and Francois and Josef find themselves destitute. They end up staying at a brothel, where laudanum (opium) is freely partaken. Francois is unable to protect Josef and fears he is taking laudanum, so he sends a letter to Leisl to come and get Josef in order to save him. Leisl finds hope when she receives a missive from the Count and Countess Prochazka, offering money and a trip for her and her family to where her brother is located. She and Kathe travel to them but find Josef distant and aloof, a shadow of his former self. There are also mysteries shrouding the Prochazkas, and nothing is what it seems. Meanwhile, The Hunt rages on, and Leisl has to decide whether/how to save herself and Josef. I won't say much more than this about the plot to avoid spoilers. As other reviewers have remarked (as well as the author herself in an apt foreward with content warnings for mental illness), this book is very different than Wintersong in style and overall feel. This is not to say it isn't worth reading, because it certainly is. This book is much darker than the first, but still maintains a lyrical quality that ebbs and flows with the characters' passions for music. This book is masterfully written. Leisl, Kathe, and Josef have all evolved quite a bit in this book, and they no longer feel like the same characters to whom we were introduced in the first book. The Goblin King has a very minor role in this book, as it focuses on Leisl and her evolution/growth as well as her mental illness. While this was set to be the second/final book in a duology, I feel there is still room for another book, as not all the plotlines could be closed within this one. Jae-Jones maintains the ethereal feel to her writing in this beautifully composed sequel. Although the content and overall tone is much darker, it is an absolute pleasure to read and is a book that I think will stick with me for some time. There is quite a bit of heavy symbolism with many layers of potential meanings, and it gives you a lot to think about. I highly recommend it (but also with the consideration of the author's foreward, of course). Please note that I received an ARC from the publisher. All opinions are my own.
Candace-LoveyDoveyBooks More than 1 year ago
Shadowsong, the breathtaking conclusion to the Wintersong duology is perhaps the most beautiful and thrilling YA novel I have read in quite a long time! S. Jae-Jones writes with her heart and it shows in the challenges overcome by her characters and the vivid landscape of their journey. It has been six months since Liesl was released from Underground, but all is not resolved. She longs for her austere young man and her little brother, Josef, is still in Vienna. His changeling soul is fading and yearning to return to the Underground. There is a danger roving about and people are mysteriously dying in a manner referred to as elf-struck. It signifies that the barriers between worlds is at risk, and Liesl must fix it before it's too late. Shadowsong expands Liesl's world quite a bit. There are more character perspectives and backstory that informs while also enriching the plot. Josef and Liesl's characters are developed further as they try to find their way back to each other and to home. This moving, epic conclusion is darker and even more imaginative than Wintersong! I'm sad it's over, but thrilled to have read Liesl's adventure. This duology is unforgettable and perfect for dark fantasy readers! *ARC provided in consideration for review*