February 17, 2017


It's been a long time since I've read a book like Wintersong. Actually - I'm not sure I ever have read a book quite like this before. Read on to see what I mean then enter to win a copy of Wintersong!

Wintersong, by S. Jae-Jones
Publish Date:
February 7, 2017
Publisher: Thomas Dunne
Format: e-ARC, provided by the publisher and Irish Banana Tours
Genre: young adult fantasy
To Buy: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Rating: 4 STARS

(Synopsis) 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.

I love retellings. Seeing how authors create their own spin on familiar stories and picking out the similarities and the differences is thrilling. Lately, we've seen many of the classic fairy tales and Disney-fied stories made into wonderfully angsty YA books. But never have I seen anyone who tried to retell the Labyrinth. Me - SOLD. 

Instead of David Bowie's Jareth, we get an ageless, nameless Goblin King who needs a new bride from time to time in order for spring to keep showing up on the Earth above. He sets his sights on Kathe, a vapid, materialistic beauty from a small German village. But her older sister Elisabeth has something to say about that. 

In place of Jennifer Connelly's Sarah is Elisabeth, the plain jane on-her-way-to-being-a-spinster girl who fades into the background as she takes care of everyone around her, including her sister and younger brother Josef. The one thing that is hers is her music. She's a brilliant composer and plays several instruments. Elisabeth convinces The Goblin King to let her take Kathe's place, and she joins him in the underworld forever. 

S. Jae-Jones is a beautiful writer. Music plays a major theme in Wintersong - it's the common thread that binds Elisabeth and The Goblin King together. The words on the pages flow like music on the air.  It's lilting and prosaic and so colorful and vibrant. It was so easy to feel all the emotions of the characters - and there were a lot of emotions to be felt.

The Goblin King had walked into the tiny room of my life and upended its contents. I was left picking up the pieces, struggling to fit them back together into one semblance of what I had known before. M life was divided into two neat and perfect halves: Before and After. 

Elisabeth goes from exuberant and joyful to grief-stricken and despondent and back again, depending on her interactions with The Goblin King. The Goblin King is hopeful that his marriage to Elisabeth will result in some actually feelings on his part and that she might awaken his boring life. And then there was the romance. Some scenes between Elisabeth and The Goblin King were seriously sexy. And I could feel it all in the words S. Jae-Jones gave us. 

Truthfully, there were times when I felt a little like I was slogging through all those beautiful words. They seemed to slow the story down from time to time Also, I should say I wasn't crazy about the ending. I'm a sucker for traditional HEAs, and while some might view the ending of Wintersong as one, I definitely was looking for more. 
Despite that, Wintersong was an interesting retelling of a story I love. I'll definitely be looking for more from S. Jae-Jones in the future. 

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.

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Danielle H. said...

I actually didn't realize until reading your post that this is a retelling. I also enjoy retellings--my favorites so far have been Peter Pan ones. Thanks for the review today!

Autumn said...

I grew up (and still am) obsessed with Labyrinth, so I need this book asap!!

Vivien said...

I love retellings as well!! This cover is just stunning. So glad you enjoyed it!

Unknown said...

I just won a copy of this and I am eager to read it!