Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones! Wintersong is one of my most anticipated 2017 new releases, and it lived up to all my expectations and I can't wait to share all my thoughts with you. Before I get to that, I also have a pronunciation guide to share and lots of other information about J.J. and Wintersong. Hope you enjoy!
Author: S. Jae-Jones
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Release Date: February 7th, 2017
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. Down in the Underground, Liesl discovers that the Goblin King still inspires her—musically, physically, emotionally. Yet even as her talent blossoms, Liesl faces an impossible choice. As she grows closer to the Goblin King, both of them must learn just what it is they are each willing to sacrifice: her life, her music, or the end of the world.
With an enchanting winterized cover, WINTERSONG will keep readers cozy while experiencing a chilling adventure like no other. S. Jae-Jones’ richly imagined debut spins a spellbinding tale of music, love, sisterhood, and a young woman’s search for self-actualization.
Meet 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.
I’m struggling to put into words just how much I enjoyed Wintersong. It was one of my most anticipated 2017 new releases, and when I was invited onto the blog tour I jumped at the chance and immediately said yes! It’s a very loosely inspired Labyrinth retelling, and I personally love that this story moved away from the original and found its own voice. My only concern is that if you begin reading this book with the hopes of a pure Labyrinth retelling, you might end up being disappointed. It’s so much more than that, and I feel there are quite a few other inspirations woven in that had a stronger relevance to the overall story. For example, I did notice quite a few nods to both the Phantom of the Opera and Hades and Persephone which I absolutely LOVED!
The story is set in a small village in Bavaria where our main character, Liesel, spent much of her childhood days playing in the nearby Goblin Grove with a childhood friend, the Goblin King. With a friendship built on silly tricks and flippant remarks, she made an innocent promise to her friend and didn’t think anything more of it, and like all little girls, she grew up and left her childhood stories behind. However, the Goblin King didn’t forget her promise, and he intends to hold her to her word. Liesel is a character that could divide opinions, but I fall into the loved her half. If you like imperfect main characters with realistic flaws and self-doubts, Liesel will be the perfect character for you to root for. All her life she’s been overlooked, and with her mixed jealousy, envy and unconditional love toward her younger siblings, I found her very easy to empathise with. There are two sides to her personality, and I loved seeing her journey of self-discovery. Hurt after hurt, battle after battle of being ignored, undervalued and taken for granted, she built a wall and hid behind a mask of duty to supress her own anguish and desire for others to notice her talent as a musician and composer. For once in her life she decided to be selfish, and it leads her to understand and accept herself for who she is and I loved seeing how she changed and matured throughout the book.
In a way, Wintersong reads like a book of two halves. One half focuses more on Liesel and her family, and the other on the Underground world inhabited by the Goblin King and various other goblin and fae creatures. I liked each for different reasons, but if I had to choose, I slightly preferred the first half of the book to the second. Overall, the book is a slower paced, more atmospheric read which I thought suited the story beautifully. Also, the writing style is gorgeous! It captured the moody atmosphere effortlessly, and the images popped off the pages with no need for embellishments and purple prose. While the slower pacing and lack of all-out action scenes might not work for everyone, I ended up thoroughly enjoying it.
I always prefer slowly developing romances, and the romance that developed between the Goblin King and Liesel was no exception. But being completely honest, I’m torn on whether I liked them together and this is the only complaint I had with the story. One minute, I’d love them and I felt and believed the chemistry between them, and then the next it would slip and I’d end up feeling disconnected. I do believe they have deep feelings for each other, yet there was something holding me back from loving them completely. I can’t pin down anything specific that occurred to make me feel this way, and it’s very frustrating as I want to ship them together so badly!
Overall though, Wintersong definitely lived up to my expectations and that made the ending twice as bittersweet. And yes, I may have been a weeping mess at one stage, not going to lie, but it was worth it! Exploring music, faith, love and hope, Wintersong is a journey of self-discovery that took inspiration from a well-known source and made it its own. If you love retellings that create their own story without relying on the original too much, then I can’t recommend Wintersong highly enough.