Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones
Published by: Thomas Dunne
Publication Date: February 7, 2017
Genre: YA, Fantasy
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.
“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.”
Be careful what you wish for. Haunting, frightening, dark, yet beautiful, Wintersong takes claim on your heart and reveals a realm beyond the veil that you have never seen before. You won’t escape its spell.
Liesl, an 18-year-old inspiring musician, hides her gift from the world. Burdened by responsibility, she gives up her fantasy of composing music and her memories of an enchanting boy who she believes is the Goblin King so that her gifted brother takes centre stage. But when the Goblin King kidnaps her sister, Käthe, and offers her a deal, he doesn’t just fuel her need to find her loved one; he offers her the path to her emotional awakening.
Wintersong is more than just a sister sacrificing her life for another. It illustrates how Liesel discovers who she is and what she can create. It is lyrical, seductive, and whimsical but touching yet tragic. Music anchors Liesl. It encases her soul, but fear entraps her, preventing her from introducing her talent. But she realizes that giving up her life in her world comes with a price. The Goblin King warns her that if she agrees to marry him, she will ultimately relinquish her life. Both worlds live off of the soul and the death of the Goblin Queen.
“Life,” he said softly, “is more than ﬂesh. Your body is a candle, your soul the ﬂame. The longer I burn the candle…”
Sarah has an undeniable skill for a debut author. She conjures up a poignant story that sneaks up on you. She integrates music, longing, and nostalgia into her writing and creates a raw and visceral narrative that will simply bewitch you and your imagination. This tragedy consumed my thoughts. And sometimes it forced me to put down the book so I could process Sarah’s storyline. The characters themselves stand out among the pages, and they captivate your immediate attention.
“Your music,” he said at last. “Your music was the only thing that kept me sane, that kept me human instead of a monster.”
Liesl evolves from the heroine who trades her soul for her sister to the Goblin Queen, who will burn both worlds. Her mortality, her soul, and her fire feed the old laws. Her progression throughout the story is heartbreaking but empowering. Her impending death brings a dark allure to an already enticing realm. It haunts the walls of the Underground and creates another character in itself. The love she has for her sister and her brother (who possesses a musical talent of his own), her sacrifice, and her untamed gift are what provide her the strength she needs in this world. Yet you want to scream at her and tell her to run, you can’t help but watch her slow demise. I find her character development tragic, but I couldn’t get enough of it.
“What is eternal life but a prolonged death.”
Do not expect the same Goblin King you’ve watched in the Labyrinth. It inspired me more than any other movie, yet I wondered if I’d see a familiar king, but this one is the exact opposite. This Goblin King protects her from his realm. His cruelty and wariness grow into a shield between Liesl and him. He doesn’t wish to be cruel, yet he knows what will happen if they break that wall and let each other in. But inevitably, he sees how quickly the Underworld will claim Lisel. The Lord of Mischief changes from the king who looks to obey the old laws to an enigmatic man who finds love. He has a tortured soul, and he develops into complicated king who may break your heart.
You can’t deny that Wintersong is one of 2017’s most anticipated books of the year, and it lives up to this claim. Since first hearing of it, I knew I had to read it. The author not only takes you on a girl’s journey of self-discovery but also captures your wildest imaginations. So walk through the veil and down to the Undergound, where magic rules, and music consumes.
What are your thoughts on Wintersong? Let’s talk about this beautiful book!
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.