Review: Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones! I am so excited to be able to share my thoughts with you about this incredibly lovely book! Also, it is out TODAY, so happy book birthday to Wintersong and author S. Jae-Jones! 

Review: Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones
Published by Thomas Dunne on February 7th 2017
Pages: 448
Format:eARC
Source:Copy provided by publisher for review, via Netgalley
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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.

A quick disclaimer before we start: I have no idea what Labyrinth is, outside of “David Bowie” and “The 80s”. So if you are looking for a comparison…. you won’t find one here. All I can tell you is that David Bowie isn’t in this book? Okay, moving on.

Wintersong hooked me from page one. The writing is gorgeous, lyrical, and just kept drawing me into the story. I really liked Liesl as a character. She was incredibly honest and flawed at times, and I felt like there was something about her that was just so… authentic. I could sympathize with her struggles even though I didn’t always share them. I liked how she wasn’t afraid to say that she wanted to know the feeling of someone being attracted to her, to show her attention the way people did to her sister.

Speaking of her sister, there is so much focus on family relationships in this book, which is another thing that I loved. So much of the plot revolves around Liesl trying to determine what is best for her family, finding a place in her family, her duty to her family. And I really loved her siblings, and even her mother and grandmother! I could have lived without her father, but I suppose his indifference toward her talent was probably pretty realistic for the time period.

Oh, and her talent! Yes, Liesl and her brother Josef both have quite an affinity for music, but in different ways. Josef plays, Liesl writes, only no one ever knows that she is behind the music. Usually, music in books for me is tolerable at best but in this case, I actually found myself caring about it! Which… I don’t know, it says quite a bit about the author’s ability to draw me into a subject I am usually apathetic toward. It fit into the story in a lot of really perfect ways, and I appreciated that.

The romance was slow to start, but once it did, I shipped it a lot. There were a lot of swoon-worthy moments. A. Lot. I don’t want to say much more about the romance because it would be spoilery, so I am just going to say that I really liked it and move on. There was one aspect I wasn’t as fond of, and that was that (and this is a spoiler, so… I will tell you guys not to read it but you will anyway.  I know how you all operate!) View Spoiler »

There are slower moments, and sometimes they were completely fine- like I said, the writing is so stunning, the character development so well done, that I didn’t mind most of the slower moments. But there were a few times, especially in the second half of the book, that I felt that maybe speeding things up, or perhaps just not including a few repetitive parts, would have helped.

Bottom Line: This was such a lovely book, with characters that I grew to care deeply about and a magical story that had me hooked throughout. I was so happy to hear that there would be a companion novel, as I cannot wait to jump back into the characters’ lives, the world, and the writing!

About S. Jae-Jones

S. Jae-Jones, called JJ, is an artist, an adrenaline junkie, and the author of Wintersong, forthcoming from Thomas Dunne in February 2017.

Born and raised in sunny Los Angeles, she lived in New York City for ten years before relocating down to Dixie, where she is comfortably growing fat on grits and barbecue. When not writing, she can be found rock-climbing, skydiving, taking photographs, drawing pictures, and dragging her dog on ridiculously long hikes.

Have you read Wintersong yet? Do you like music in books? Have you ever seen Labyrinth? Let’s talk about stuff! 

Posted February 7, 2017 by Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight in Blog Tour, Review / 20 Comments


20 responses to “Review: Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones

  1. Eeeep, I’m so glad you loved it!! I actually know zero about what the poem (is it even a poem??) that it’s based off so I’ll be going into it pretty blind.😂 BUT I LIKE THAT. A retelling should stand on its own too I think! I looooove the cover and eeep MUSIC IS MY FAVOURITE and honestly there aren’t enough musical books in the universe. *pushes this higher up my wishlist*

  2. Ooh I’m glad you liked this one, Shannon – I’ve been keeping my eye on it! Labyrinth is one of my favourite movies from my childhood so I’m sure at some point this year I’ll be checking this book out because I love me a goblin king. =)

  3. I think I’m the only one who hated the old Labyrinth. That’s why I pretty much decided not to read this book. But now you’ve made it sound so good I’m torn! I’ve been in the mood for a good slow burn romance! Would you call this book whimsical? (I don’t do whimsical. Alice in Wonderland is not my thing.)

  4. There’s been a lot of buzz around this one, so I’m intrigued, but I also want the sequel to be out so I can binge-read? I really love the sound of the romance, especially. Thanks for the warning about the slower, repetitive moments. I feel like most books like this have those dull moments, but it’s good to know so I can prepare for it.
    I’m glad you enjoyed it, Shannon! Fabulous review! 🙂

  5. Okay, the references to The Goblin King got me right away. Because, naturally, my thoughts went immediately to the Labyrinth movie which I am so nostalgic about. It came out the year I graduated high school and I have such memories of seeing it again and again at the theater. So I’m already picturing a 1986-era Bowie in all his be-wigged, eyelinered, pirate-shirted, booted glory. *sigh* But, uh, back to the book… love the fact that there’s a strong family element. Love it. Like you, I’m usually kind of meh about music in books but it sounds like it totally works here. And I’m totally curious about the underworld and The Goblin King and the relationship that Liesl forms with him. You know I’m not much of a fantasy girl but I’m totally intrigued by this one!

  6. More importantly, we need to have a Labyrinth viewing party. That was my jam all throughout grade/middle/high school (okay life. It is forever my jam).

    I agree 100% with your spoiler. It was a bit concerning how desperately she wanted it and how she decided that it freed and changed her.

    I’m hoping that we’ll explore more consequences in the sequel!

  7. Becca

    I am hearing so many good things about this book! I never watched Labryinth but I am still so curious about this book! Great review!

  8. Hi Shannon! I love reading all the reviews that are appearing for Wintersong, especially your positive reading experience. To say that you were hooked from the start is quite the hook for me. Plus lyrical prose, music, and all sorts of other goodies…well, I am intrigued. Great review!

  9. This got delivered to my Kindle this morning and I cannot wait to get started! I have never seen Labyrinth either so no comparisons from me but that’s okay. I’m glad to see there are strong family connections in here, I love when family features in a book so I’m pretty optimistic I’ll like this too.

  10. I’ve never watched Labyrinth but I’ve heard all the things. I’ve seen Goonies though! I know, not relevant, but it just came tomine. 80’s movies… I’m assuming the Goblin King is not a hideous nasty thing like a Lord of the Rings goblin lol. So that’s good. and this does sound nice with the family focus and Liesl being a good character.

    I READ THE SPOILER (because impulse control you know). Hmm yeah that might be laying it on a little thick. 🙂

  11. I’m hoping to check this out at the library, once I finish the gazillion books I have to read at the moment. Also I HAVE NEVER WATCHED LABYRINTH EITHER. And you know, I’m glad you ended up liking this even with what you were telling us in the DM. BECAUSE YAY. Also music is great. I always read books with music in it.

  12. I want to read this so bad!! I’ve never watched Labyrinth either, but this sounds so lovely. I need to fit it in soon. Great review!

  13. Jo

    Ooh, I really didn’t like this, but it’s mostly down to personal taste than the book being bad – though I did have a few problems with some of the aspects of the sex they had. But I wasn’t a fan of the music, or Liesl, really. The Goblin King was the only part of this book that I really enjoyed, sadly. I’m glad you loved it, though! 🙂

  14. I’m so glad you liked this one girl! Totally agree about all your points. It was odd to have such a life-changing sex scene – like what in the world? Liesl is such a fierce and quietly strong character, I was just so surprised to see how much of a monumental change she put on sex. Anywaysss, the rest of the time, the ship was really nice. 😀 I hope to learn more about the Goblin King in the next book! And OMG – his name as well. So many unanswered questionssss we have yet to read. Love this review!

  15. I don’t think I’ve seen many reviews for this book around? But it sounds like this was a pretty lovely read I love the sound of music being a en element in focus for this book, and that the writing is lyrically and poetically beautiful as well. That always makes me happy when I’m reading!

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