Wintersong, S. Jae-Jones, Spoiler Free Review

Aloha! The sun is beginning to shine here in Oxford and so it feels entirely appropriate to review a book that has ‘winter’ in the name, of course! Wintersong was published back in February and fist came to my notice when I was looking through past inclusions in Fairyloot boxes. I managed to bag a Kindle version for only 99p in the sale and with a bargain like that who can really fault me? So enough prattle, on with the reviewing…

Goodreads Summary:

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.

Let’s sit this title firmly in the ‘books that are kind of based in Eastern European folklore and involve girls getting lost in the woods’ section of our shelves shall we?

This setting was very similar to a lot of books in the aforementioned category, but the added element that the reader is taken down to the fantasy realm of the goblin king gave that a bit more dimension. I’m all for books where characters are transported from one world to the next and I felt like two worlds were well thought out and made distinct enough that you could really understand the transition between the two.

The way that magic functioned, crucial in any fantasy novel I think we can agree, was also pretty well thought out. Jae-Jones clearly opted for the ‘let’s not complicate it’ option, so while there were clear rules that magic followed you didn’t find yourself racking your brain as to why or why not a character might choose to cast a spell.

Character-wise this book didn’t do anything particularly ‘new’. We had the fesity, slightly more plain sister who is motivated by her love for her younger, more attractive sister. That trope goes all the way back to Austen and beyond so I don’t think we can really fault the book for that. There was also her brother, which I suppose put a slightly different spin on that relationship, though not enough to make me feel it was ‘new’.

Let’s get into this villain. The Goblin king was a character who I imagine has already sparked or will soon spark a fair amount of fanfiction. He’s the perfect cursed anti-hero. You start out hating him and gradually you start to fall for his charm, but can you trust him oh it’s all so much to bear *swoons across a Chaise Longue*. But in all seriousness, again this wasn’t anything brand spanking new in terms of villainy or indeed love interest, but I wasn’t angry with it, it didn’t leave me totally satisfied but nor was I desperate for something more.

Writing style? There is certainly style, Jae-Jones has, in my opinion, quite the evocative writing style. I enjoy the way she incorporates a lot of senses particularly smell and touch as they often feel a little bit gratuitous or overwrought in other books. Maybe I’m overthinking this? I didn’t breeze through this in a bored way, nor did I enter any kind of slump. It was a fairly normal paced novel which is not in any way a bad thing.

What to watch out for? I’d definitely stress the adult nature of this book. If you’re a bit on the younger side or a tad prudish some of the content may offend. But as far as I recall there isn’t a lot of gore, which is something that has been featuring in a lot of my recent reads for some reason, so this was a nice break.

Final Thoughts

I liked this book. I thought that it was a really strong young adult fantasy novel which had some really exciting elements and that handled the chosen setting really well. I know there are plans for another book in the series and I will probably read that as well, but I don’t think I’ll be rushing for the preorder, I’ll wait and see if Amazon can do me another deal.

My Rating: 4 stars (I can’t fault this book but it wasn’t absolutely to die for amazing)

Have you read Wintersong? Any thoughts? Anything to add? Let me know down below or tweet me @judithcmoore. Can’t wait to hear from you!


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