Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones was released last year and I just wasn’t feeling it, and then I picked it back up at the end of December and absolutely loved it and immediately requested Shadowsong. So today check out both of my reviews! Thank you to Wednesday Books and Netgalley for the opportunity to read and review both of these books, and my review is in no way influenced by the fact I was given an Advance Reader Copy.
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 fully own up to my own failure and idiocy regarding this one. Back when I first got the ARC, my excitement was high. The cover! The Labyrinth-inspired tale! I couldn’t wait to indulge. But, for whatever reason, when I stepped into the tale, I felt nothing. I was bored. I felt cheated. I DNFed.
You’re probably wondering why, then, nearly a year later I decided to give it another shot. I get that, because I have no idea myself. But, I saw a sequel in order and figured maybe, just maybe, I’d missed something that first time around.
Clearly, I had. It’s still the same tale. Nothing was changed. This time, though, I was thoroughly engrossed. Elisabeth, the Goblin King…being unwanted, plain. It all just struck me. I’m not a musician but I found the musical background enriching. And beyond all this—love. Of all kinds. Not just romantic (although, swoon!) but familial. And that was essentially the gist.
This was a tale of love, sacrifice, selflessness. The learning of lessons and of oneself. Is it perfect? No. Nothing is or can be. But it was perfect for me in this moment. It was just the story I needed at the right time.
Wintersong has inspired me to not give up so easily on a story. It could just be the wrong time to read it. Perhaps, had I waited a bit longer, I could’ve raved about it all year. Now, it’s sequel, Shadowsong awaits me on my Kindle. And I can’t wait to see the next portion of Elisabeth’s story.
Six months after the end of Wintersong, Liesl is working toward furthering both her brother’s and her own musical careers. Although she is determined to look forward and not behind, life in the world above is not as easy as Liesl had hoped. Her younger brother Josef is cold, distant, and withdrawn, while Liesl can’t forget the austere young man she left beneath the earth, and the music he inspired in her.
When troubling signs arise that the barrier between worlds is crumbling, Liesl must return to the Underground to unravel the mystery of life, death, and the Goblin King—who he was, who he is, and who he will be. What will it take to break the old laws once and for all? What is the true meaning of sacrifice when the fate of the world—or the ones Liesl loves—is in her hands?
It’s over! I’m both happy and disappointed by this. After the way Wintersong ended, I knew I needed its sequel immediately. I only wanted this story to end one way.
So this picks up a few months after the end of book one. Things are somewhat back to normal for Elisabeth/Liesl. Except something is missing. And then there’s Josef. The brother who had finally gotten all their father wanted. Both are suffering, miserable. And it seems neither are safe. The old laws need to be paid. Until then, innocents suffer.
Shadowsong is crazy straight out of the gate. I was ready to jump right back into this world. And I was afraid of what would happen. How it would all end. This part of the tale focuses mainly on the mental health of both Elisabeth and Josef. How they’re changed. Changing. After a death on the family, things seem to be further spiraling. But then, by some stroke of luck, a benefactor contacts Liesel, and seems to save them all. The catch? A move to Vienna.
There is a lot to take in again. New aspects of the story. New pieces to the puzzle of the Goblin King and the Underground. It’s a puzzle, a mystery to sort. And at the end of the tunnel is hope. Hope that somehow, someway, Elisabeth can find a way to save everyone, but especially her austere young man.
Fans of the Goblin King will be sad to know he’s not present much this time around. His presence IS limited, but for the direction the story needed to go, it makes sense. It’s still captivating. And really, this is more emotional than Wintersong. Liesel has to make tough choices; harder than those the first time around. Her pain is palpable.
The writing is once again outstanding. So beautiful. I think it’s part of why I have been so caught up in the story. It’s easy to get lost in pretty words, even when the story itself is dark.
A great (fingers crossed) ending to this story. I don’t think I could’ve asked for anything more! Unless, maybe she wants to write something for Kathe and Francois.