(Wintersong #1, By: S. Jae Jones)


Beware the goblin men and the wares they sell.

All her life, nineteen-year-old Liesl has heard tales of the beautiful, mysterious Goblin King. He is the Lord of Mischief, the Ruler Underground, and the muse around which her music is composed. Yet, as Liesl helps shoulder the burden of running her family’s inn, her dreams of composition and childish fancies about the Goblin King must be set aside in favor of more practical concerns.

But when her sister Käthe is taken by the goblins, Liesl journeys to their realm to rescue her sister and return her to the world above. The Goblin King agrees to let Käthe go—for a price. The life of a maiden must be given to the land, in accordance with the old laws. A life for a life, he says. Without sacrifice, nothing good can grow. Without death, there can be no rebirth. In exchange for her sister’s freedom, Liesl offers her hand in marriage to the Goblin King. He accepts.

Down in the Underground, Liesl discovers that the Goblin King still inspires her—musically, physically, emotionally. Yet even as her talent blossoms, Liesl’s life is slowly fading away, the price she paid for becoming the Goblin King’s bride. As the two of them grow closer, they must learn just what it is they are each willing to sacrifice: her life, her music, or the end of the world.

Published February 2017 by Thomas Dunne Books


I gave this book 2.5 stars and honestly, I struggled quite a bit with how to rate it. While there were some redeeming qualities within the story, overall it was a flop for me - especially when reviewing it as a YA novel. 

First and foremost, this book did not read YA to me at all. While the age of the main character was appropriate for YA, the language choices and writing style of the author read much more adult. Had I been rating this book as an adult book, it most likely would have bumped up a star, but as a YA novel it was a miss. 

Further, a lot of the story was focused around music and musical composition (the main character is an aspiring composer and communicated often through her music) which was challenging for me as a reader. As someone who is not classically trained in music, much of the musical description and metaphors went right over my head and left me feeling like I was missing out on huge parts of the book that just weren't for me. Again, this was a personal issue that could be completely different for someone who resonates with and knows the ins and outs of classical music.

Now getting into the plot and conflict within the story - I simply didn't feel that there was enough of it. The pacing was slow, and although, technically, the stakes of the conflict were high, I never really felt the tension within them. The game that was being played between the Goblin King and Liesl fell flat and didn't bring out the emotions that it needed to in order to keep me engaged. I did eventually feel connected to part of the conflict - but it was not until the very end of the story when it was too little too late. 

Finally, the romance in this novel was odd and lacking. The relationship between the Goblin Kind and Liesl was unclear - simply hinting at a past that seemed like child's play - leaving me confused about her intense draw or sudden need for him as a growing woman. Eventually I started to see a true relationship blooming, but again it wasn't until the last couple of chapters of an otherwise very long book.

All of that being said, there were several aspects of the story that I enjoyed. I liked that the main character wasn't the typical gorgeous girl - but instead a plain, often overlooked girl. It was refreshing to see how she blossomed throughout the book because of what was inside of her (instead of physical appearances). Also, there were some beautiful and deep themes that were explored in the book that I thought were well done and inspiring (love is a bridge between all, being vulnerable allows you to experience a deeper relationship with yourself and others, belief in yourself etc.)

In the end, this book simply didn't resonate with me. I really wanted to love it - as the premise was intriguing and promising - but for me, it never reached its potential as a YA novel. 




Have you read this book? Let me know what you thought in the comments below!

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