“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
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By S. Jae-Jones
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2017 S. Jae-Jones
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THE GOBLIN MARKET
We must not look at goblin men, We must not buy their fruits: Who knows upon what soil they fed Their hungry, thirsty roots?
— CHRISTINA ROSSETTI, Goblin Market
BEWARE THE GOBLIN MEN
"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.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
First time reading any of her books, a very well written book about love selflessness n finding your self.
Travel to the Underground in this magical, lyrical retelling of The Labyrinth. This was one of my biggest anticipated reads for this winter, so I was absolutely ecstatic when I got my hands on it. The cover and blurb drew me to it like a moth to flame – because come on, who would let go of a steamy Labyrinth retelling? I can’t wait for readers to get ahold of this one because everything – from the stunning imagery to the characters with so much heart – makes this one a fantasy not to pass on. Liesl is the plain one in her family: the eldest child without the talent of the youngest or the beauty of the middle. She is the person most easily forgotten in the room, and she’s content that way. From the beginning, readers are drawn to her easygoing yet pliable attitude where she has a marked focus on her younger brother Joseph’s music education and selflessness towards herself. We are constantly reminded of how she pales in comparison to her siblings, and yet there’s a spark in her waiting to be let out. It just takes the right impetus to galvanize her light to shine. "‘There is music in your soul. A wild and untamed sort of music that speaks to me. It defies all the rules and laws you humans set upon it. It grows from inside you, and I have a wish to set that music free.’" Through a series of events, Liesl ends up in the Underground – which she all but forgotten after growing up from her grandmother’s silly tall tales. It turns out that the Goblin King is real… and he wants Liesl as her bride. They play a “game” where Liesl saves her sister Kathe from being drained by the goblin denizens, instead taking her place next to the king’s side where she can let her passions grow without restraint. Soon enough, though, Liesl discovers that being queen has a price – while leaving would also create consequences. She’s caught in a conundrum, all while slowly getting to know the mysterious, ethereal Goblin King who is becoming more and more vulnerable and human in her eyes. Wintersong may revolve around the coming of winter, but the steamy scenes between the characters were enough to melt any cold feelings any reader would have. Liesl’s unforgettable journey of self-discovery and love – for her family, the love interest, and most importantly, herself – was what sealed the deal for me. Coupled with the vivid imagery and flowing writing that allows for no breaks, Wintersong is a majestic symphony of feelings and growth put into one book – a book that readers of all stories should pick up.
I liked the book but I also kept having a hard time staying connected. But could just be my personal preference.
I got so frustrated with drawout descriptions that i couldnt even finish reading it
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.
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.
Wintersong is a book you're going to love or you're going to hate and I fell in the love category. It was a little weird and there were times I didn't totally buy into the story, but for the most part, I adored it. Beautifully written, wonderful sibling and family relationships, a fascinating romance. Frankly, I was most worried about the romance - there's always a concern in Beauty and the Beast/Persephone-esque retellings that the hero will be overbearing and demanding, but he wasn't and I loved how complexly he was written. I read most of this in one sitting and I'm ordering book 2 right now so I can have it ASAP.
I love this book! I grew up on Labrynth, and this book could fit right in with the stories. Couldnt have asked for a more delightful and engrossing read. The characters jumped off the page and you could almost see the Underground World of The Goblin King. Cant wait to read the next installment
I really loved this one. It was so lush and dark and interesting; I was completely hooked from the moment the story began. The characters, the romance, the character development--everything was so, so well done and developed. Very excited to get my hands on the sequel to this one!
Suspenseful fantasy at its best! Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for the opportunity to read and review Wintersong by S. Jae Jones! The beginning section, entitled Overture, beautifully explains the story of Elisabeth and the Goblin King. Elisabeth lives with her two siblings, mother, father and grandmother running an inn for their living. Papa drinks too much and that leaves Mother to take care of everything and everyone, with Elisabeth’s help. Josef is the youngest and musically talented. He plays the violin with Elisabeth as his accompaniment. She composes music and plays the piano while Josef helps bring her music to life with his violin. Kathe is the middle child, with beauty and a happy, bright demeanor. Kathe is captured by the Goblin King and Elisabeth must find her before the next full moon or all is lost. Little does Elisabeth know how much she must sacrifice if she’s truly going to save her sister. Suspenseful fantasy at its best, 5 stars! * I received a complimentary copy of this book for voluntary review consideration.
Reminded me a bit of Labyrinth, especially the story. Main character I wasn't sure about. But I did like the writing style, especially the descriptions were the interesting part about this. But also the arcs the characters were going through. Pacing was okay. Though it did take me a while to finally finish this. Love the cover!
"Once there was a little girl who played her music for a little boy in the wood. She was small and dark, he was tall and fair, and the two of them made a fancy pair as they danced together, dancing to the music the little girl heard in her head.” Once I saw the cover for this book I knew I had to buy it. It was so pretty. Then I read the synopsis and I knew it was perfect for me. And I was right. This book was so dark and beautiful. I thought it was full of magic and completely spellbinding. ... More for the review and bookish content at https://www.josiemichele.com
Where do I start with Wintersong? When I read the blurb, I thought that this book was going to be a rip off Labyrinth. Everything screamed it. But, as I got into the book, the more I understood that this was NOT a rip off Labyrinth. Instead, I got an excellent and mystical take on the Johan Wolfgang von Goethe’s poem “Erlkonig“. Wintersong is set in close to turn of century Bavaria. The exact location where Liesl and her family lived was not discussed. Saying that I did think the author built a very rich and complex world around that village. I wish that more was discussed about the actual country itself. The plot of Wintersong was interesting. Liesl has grown up with stories about The Goblin King. Her brother Josef and herself would escape from their duties and head to Goblin Hollow. There they would play music for The Goblin King. She grew up and started assuming more duties at the inn her family ran. Which meant that she didn’t have time for anything childish. One night, Liesl’s younger sister, Kathe, is taken away by the goblins. Liesl saves Kathe by agreeing to become The Goblin King’s bride. She soon realizes that there is more to The Goblin King than meets the eye. Decisions must be made if Liesl is to survive The Underground. Decisions that will affect everyone she has ever loved.
I loved and hated this book. It is dark and mysterious story with a fairytale-like quality that is irresistible. Who is Goblin King and what is his history? Liesl's love for her sister and her own music pulled me into the book. Then as her relationship with the Goblin King developed, I found myself becoming more and more invested in Liesl's (and the Goblin King's) fate. I finished this book with more questions than answers and with a feeling of deep sadness. The fact that Shadowsong has just been released, makes me curious to see where Jae-Jones goes with the conclusion of this duology.
I did enjoy this book. It is different and set in Germany around the turn of the 19th Century. Liesl has heard about the stories of the Goblin King all her life. Her sister gets kidnapped from the Goblin King and Liesl knows she has to save her. Liesl has also been told all her life that the music she creates is not good. With her love of music buried deep inside her will she be able to let it out to save her sister. In some ways you actually root for the Goblin King and other times you want Liesl and her sister to run from him. I have already started the second book as I really want to see where this story ends. *Thank you NetGalley for allowing me to read this for my honest opinion*
This book left me with a strong feeling of wrongness. The Goblin King came to her when she was a child to groom her into being his wife. That's just not okay -ever. He was a grown adult pretending to be a kid. All the descriptions of sexual fantasies, and acts, just had the ick feel, and I'm not a prude. The writing style was beautiful, but the descriptions of music just go on and on. Unless you're a music major, it's like trying to read another language. Dark and disturbing, and not in a good, fun way. The end made me want to burn my book.
I received a copy of this story from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this book! I've seen it here and there in the almost year since its release and it always made me curious but never made the top of my list. I'm bummed I didn't discover this story sooner. I wasn't sold at first. The beginning was plodding and the Christina Rossetti poems kept causing flashbacks to this terrible class I took in college to fulfill a requirement (Pre-Raphaelite Literature). As much as I shudder to remember that class, it did give me a foothold into the mythology of this story. This isn't a new tale. If you've studied any amount of mythology, there's a solid chance you know how the story ends. But the blend of ordinary and extraordinary, mythical and mundane, kept me from being confident in my assumptions and I loved it. Instead, I sunk into the story like a beloved and often played piece of music; I knew where the story was going but I was content to be in the moment with the characters and enjoy the ride. I recommend this book to anyone: - who likes mythology and fantasy - who is craving a story just outside the mainstream - who wants to curl up with a good book during the winter months, soaking in the story like a warm bath This was truly a pleasure to read. I would happily read the sequel!
This book blew me away. The cover is beautiful. After beginning to read it, it reminds me of the Labyrinth. We meet Elisabeth, a young girl, who thinks she is a plain girl. She has a beautiful sister and a brother who is very talented in music. She lives in their shadows. As a young girl, her grandmother would share stories about the Goblin King and the "underground". Elisabeth played with the goblin king as a child in the Goblin grove but he appeared to her as a young boy. They would play music together and other games. Many times he would ask her if she would be his bride. Playfully, she would say yes. As time passes, she grows up and the playtimes come to an end. But the Goblin King did not forget her. This story is beautiful. It's very poetic. The author is so descriptive that I could perfectly see what Elisabeth sees, smells and tastes. It's so great! I have seen other reviews that criticize the sexual undertones and the age of the Goblin King. The Goblin King is immortal. This is a young adult. In the book, she turns 20. Having sexual fantasies is normal. If you are familiar with folklore then you know that there is plenty of sex in folklore. The book doesn't get too graphic as I've seen in some other books. Some might find it disturbing. I would say, are you an adult? Do you have sex? As a young adult did you fantasize about what your first time would be like? If you answered yes to those questions then the book should be fine. As far as the ages go, do you support vampires having sex with a teenager in high school (twilight)? Vampires are immortal, there is no difference here. I enjoyed this book. The storyline was beautiful and engaging. I am so happy there is another book coming out.
An exquisitely-woven tale set in the court of the goblin king… “Once there was a little girl who played her music for a little boy in the wood. She was small and dark, he was tall and fair, and the two of them made a fancy pair as they danced together, dancing to the music the little girl heard in her head.” Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones is an exquisitely-woven tale set in the court of the goblin king. I absolutely loved the Labyrinth movie years ago and, even after all these years, I still find the time to watch it every year. Back in early 2017, when I saw that this book featured a goblin king and a maiden, I knew I had to read it. Indeed, I inhaled every word, lost in the author’s fantasy world, picturing David Bowie as the hero, and wasn't disappointed in the least – far from it - until the closing... WTH! To say I disliked the finish is way too mild. That disappointing ending kept this darkly romantic tale from being a five-star read for me. Wintersong is the tale of the Goblin King and nineteen-year-old Liesl. Liesel always believed in the Goblin King. She considered him a friend, having played for him in the woods as a child. Then… reminiscent of the Labyrinth movie, when Liesel should have been dutifully watching over her sibling, she indulges in playing her music. Her grandmother had warned her that the Goblin King would be out and about on the longest night of the year seeking his eternal bride, but Liesel ignored her dire plea to watch over her sister. You can guess what happens. Her sister is abducted by the Goblin King. To save her sister, Liesl journeys underground in pursuit. From there, the story loses any similarity with the movie in an imaginative, spellbinding tale. I loved all the aspects of this story – the plot, the characters and the 19th century setting. The romance between the Goblin King and Liesl was slow-building, heart-warming and heart-melting. I so wished that the perfection had not been spoiled by such a terrible ending. That said, it’s now Jan 2018 and I have renewed hope that the resolution for this couple will become a well-deserved happy one as the author is releasing a concluding follow-up entitled Shadowsong in February. That news has behooved me to write this review as, until now, thinking of the ending of Wintersong has only made me sad. Following please find a few of my favorite quotes from Wintersong which illustrate the author’s poetically beautiful writing: “Life,” he said softly, “is more than ﬂesh. Your body is a candle, your soul the ﬂame. The longer I burn the candle...” He did not ﬁnish. “A candle unused is nothing but wax and wick,” I said.“I would rather light the ﬂame, knowing it will go out than sit forever in darkness.” --- “What is eternal life but a prolonged death.” --- “What would you do, if you were a free man?” “I would take my violin and play. I would walk the world and play, until someone called me by name and called me home.” It’s hard to believe that Wintersong is S. Jae-Jones debut as it’s so wonderfully written. If enchanting fairy-tale romances teeming with magic and music appeal to you, I’d highly encourage you to check out this duology – assuming Shadowsong rewrites this couple’s ending in a good way. Shadowsong’s blurb gives me high expectations of just that! If so, the author will deserve every accolade as I have no doubt that Shadowsong will be equally as awesome as Wintersong! 4 1/2 Stars!
I bought this book on Audible on a whim, and !!! boy am I glad I did? S. Jae-Jones has that lyrical way of writing that makes my heart flutter and this is a long but also hauntingly gorgeous story and I loved it. 1. I've seen some mixed reviews of Liesl, but I really liked her. Liesl was a fluid character. She isn't quite sure what she wanted or who she was, a side-effect of constantly living in the shadows. I liked Liesl's imperfections and passionate fits. At times, she was a commanding woman and at others a spoiled brat and all versions of herself felt true. 2. It's always enjoyable when authors incorporate entities as though they are breathing characters. My personal favorite is theatre, but in Wintersong, the music is a character. Liesl, the Goblin King, and other minor and supporting characters all twist and turn around compositions and chords until the book itself is a dance. 3. As I said in the intro bit, this book is stunningly written. S. Jae-Jones writes with grace and precision, and it is beautiful. Few YA authors write this way, and many who attempt it go overboard. This novel balances storytelling and stunning prose wonderfully. 4. I found the world building breathtaking. It is one thing to create the whimsy of the market or the tension of the inn, but the Underground took on a life of its own and wrapped me in its clutches. The rules of magic came with consequences and the goblins themselves played dutifully by the laws of the world. 5. I think that if you're going to set a story in a non-English setting, the language used becomes very important. S. Jae-Jones incorporates German into her writing with flawless ease, using it as a world building element, a character definer (Der Erlkönig), and like frosting on the top of this already glorious cake. 6. In a world filled with countless retellings, the story of the Goblin King is refreshingly original. Yes, we've all see Labyrinth and this is not quite that story (at no point was I disappointed by the lack of David Bowie). It was a different story, but it stands as one of the best retellings I've ever come across. 7. The characters here do no cease to surprise. Käthe came in to the story flat and shallow, but turned out to be a ray of sunshine while Liesl's little brother was also more than he appeared. We see their stories through a looking glass, and yet, their characters are loud and impressive. And these two are minor characters. 8. Wintersong has incredibly slow pacing, which may be a turnoff for some. I actually enjoyed the leisurely gait... it let me soak in the world more. 9. This story is an excellent example of how love at first sight, or young love, can still be complicated and awkward. Lisel and Der Erlkönig's stories have been entwined since her childhood and in the first chapter you see his love for her... and yet nothing is simple. Their love is complicated and that is how love ought to be. 10. For those of you who enjoy audiobooks, Eva Kaminsky's reading of Wintersong was incredible. Her voice was filled with yearning and questioning that was perfect for Liesl and I recommend this audiobook highly. To be perfectly honest, up until the moment I impulsively bought it, Wintersong was a soft "I'll get to it eventually, maybe" for me. This book is much too good for that. I thoroughly enjoyed every word of this story and found myself completely captivated. By all means - set forth and devour this beautiful novel.
Eighteen-year-old Liesl is neither beautiful nor talented. Those qualities belong to her brother and sister. Disillusioned and resigned, she devotes her life to tending to her parents’ inn while longing for Hans, her cute childhood friend. Things take a bizarre turn when her sister Käthe is kidnapped by the Goblin King. Liesl is baffled. The Goblin King was a figment of her childhood fancy, a character from a folklore she’d lost faith in as she grew older. Turns out it’s all real. Her grandmother thinks so. If it’s all true, then Liesl has to settle a score with the enigmatic Goblin King, and she must watch as he toys with her life and the lives of those around her. I love the story. It captured me from the start, and I love what S. Jae-Jones did here. German folklore has always intrigued me, and Jae-Jones built a unique world around it. However, character development is the true winner here. “What I wouldn’t give to be the object of someone’s desire, just for one moment. What I wouldn’t give to taste that fruit, that heady sweetness, of being wanted. I wanted. I wanted what Käthe took for granted. I wanted wantonness.” Liesl’s motives are clear. She — and all the others — is well-defined and sympathetic. The stakes and motives are also clear, and I couldn’t wait to see what happened next. This book resonates with Libba Bray’s Gemma Doyle trilogy, but unlike Bray, Jae-Jones’s world is not as... palpable. This is a YA fantasy set in forests, replete with goblins. Make those murky forests come alive! Where’s the rich description? I wanted to shiver as Liesl wandered through the frosty woods, searching for her nemesis. The nineteenth century setting is a little vague too. The rest of the book is great though. I give it four out of five Smoked Butterscotch lattes. Can’t wait to read Shadowsong. Here’s hoping I’ll get to read it soon.
Dark and achingly beautiful. Twisted and fluid.
Absolutely amazing! The storyline was enchanting... highly recommend .
“‘A candle unused is nothing but wax and wick,’ I said.’I would rather light the ﬂame, knowing it will go out than sit forever in darkness.’” Genre: New Adult Fantasy. Number of Pages: 436. Perspective: First. Location: 18th Century Bavaria. This book is about Liesl, a girl whose sister gets kidnapped by the goblin king. She must use what she knows from her grandmother’s old folklore stories to figure out how to get her sister back, even if it means making the ultimate sacrifice. I read this book for my book club, but I may have picked it up on my own because of the beautiful cover and the fantasy element. However, I want to start off by saying that I couldn’t fully appreciate all this book has to offer. By that, I mean that at least half of this book is musical prose that might as well have been a foreign language to me. If you understand classical music, then I would assume that you would have an appreciation for the 50%+ of the book that I skipped over (I was also recovering from major back surgery and on a lot of pain meds while reading this book, so I fell asleep a lot while reading it). The part I did understand was interesting, but familiar. I have no problem with people writing fan fiction or taking an old idea and expanding on it, but this felt like The Labyrinth meets Beauty and the Beast. And any sort of romance between captor—who, not to mention, isn’t even human—and captive gives me the heebie-jeebies. However, There’s no denying that this book has beautiful writing and was difficult to predict (which are two positive factors in any book). I haven’t personally read a lot of goblin books, but I do love faerie stories, and this feels similar. So I liked that fantasy aspect. But even a fantasy story should be somewhat realistic. I’m sorry, but if you love someone, why steal their sister instead of stating your true intentions? Just seems like an unnecessary step to the whole story. And the back and forth and abrupt ends to romantic scenes felt really bizarre. To read the rest of my review, and other book reviews, go here: http://judgingmorethanjustthecover.blogspot.com/2017/09/wintersong-s-jae-jones.html
I loved the idea of this book more than the book itself. Wintersong was marketed as a retelling of The Labyrinth, and it falls far short of that. The only similarity between Wintersong and The Labyrinth that I could find is that there are goblins and a Goblin King and a girl who is trying to rescue someone from them. The characterization is well done. The characters are fully fleshed out, and the world building is very well done. However the story itself is terribly boring and predictable. Here’s the story in a nutshell: boy and girl were childhood playmates. Boy turns out to be Goblin King. He kidnaps her sister. Girl exchanges herself for her sister. Girl and Goblin King resist their feelings for each other. Then they have sex. Girl is suddenly more than she was before. He falls in love with her and lets her go. Seriously? Surely we can come up with better stories? Aside from how boring I thought it was I think what bothers me the most is the use of sex as the catalyst to Liesl’s sudden “awakening”. This is a book meant for young adults and we are telling them that having sex with your kidnapper will change your life? Sex is great, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not life changing; and having sex with someone who is holding you captive is just disturbing. I recommend skipping this one and reading something else instead.