“Wintersong” by S. Jae-Jones

I read Wintersong in tandem with Who Thought This Was a Good Idea because both became available on my library’s Overdrive at the same time. We are only given 21 days to read books downloaded to our devices, so I sped through both books. Good thing they were both somewhat engrossing.

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. (Goodreads)

My thoughts:

I wanted to love this book because I liked the writing, but unfortunately, I was bored for half of it and almost gave up.

When I started reading, I was immediately pulled in by the writing and atmosphere, which is a little haunting as if someone is always watching. I also liked the many references to Christina Rossetti’s poem “Goblin Market,” which is a favorite, and that the story hints at fairytales.

I was hooked when I started reading, though I didn’t like the protagonist’s constantly comparing herself to her sister and grousing about how ugly and unspectacular she thinks of herself, and hardly broke from the book. For that first half, the story was an adventure. The protagonist, Käthe, becomes assertive and challenges the Goblin King to get her sister back. She travels to his underground kingdom and fights for sister. By the end of that section, I wondered why so many pages were left. Sure, some things needed wrapping up but certainly this was the end of this installment of the story (because obviously, being a YA novel, it would be a series).

Then I started on the second half and slowly began to lose interest. It was as if I was reading a different book. The genre had switched from fantasy with a hint of adventure, to romance with a hint of fantasy. I became annoyed with the characters and obvious stalls in the plot’s progression. The writing remained strong, but that was no longer enough to keep my interest and though I love descriptive writing, in this section I became impatient with it because it made the story drag. I wanted it to be done.

I am curious about what will happen next, but I’m not interested in reading the second novel if it’s a romance like the second part of this book. Also, I don’t like any of the characters and I especially dislike Käthe because I get easily annoyed with characters who constantly compare themselves to others.

**Spoiler!** I think the Goblin King will saved by Käthe. I think what will happen is that her brother will become the new Goblin King so that Käthe and the current Goblin King can live together happily ever after. **End spoiler!**

Overall: ★★☆☆☆ 1/2

The writing is good and the first part of the story is okay, but I didn’t like the second part and I wasn’t interested in the romance.

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17 thoughts on ““Wintersong” by S. Jae-Jones

  1. Nice job on the review, Zezee. I remember reading similar comments about the protagonist, pacing, and romance in a review of Wintersong on a different website. That’s often enough to convince me to avoid reading the book for myself.

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  2. Oh dear, I’ve been thinking of reading this one, yes because of the hype but if I’m being honest also mostly because of the gorgeous cover 🙂 That’s a shame you found it dull – beautiful writing and atmosphere are nice but there has to be more to a book. I also am not a fan of protagonists who whinge about how ugly they are (especially if they aren’t actually ugly) and constantly compare themselves to others… so that doesn’t bode well. Hm. Maybe this will be one I just admire for afar… we’ll see. Great review though, really well written!

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    • Yea, it all depends on whether or not you like that the romance dominates the second section. Some folks were also turned off by the many mentions of music and vocab used for music, but I didn’t mind it.

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    • It certainly seems so since it’s often compared to it. Other than mentioning goblins and “sacrificing oneself for another” as a theme, I didn’t see much of a similarity.

      Liked by 1 person

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