Author: S. Jae-Jones
Format: Paperback, 508 pages
Publication Details: February 7th 2017 by Titan Books
Genre(s): YA; Fantasy; Romance
Disclosure? Nope I bought it!
‘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.
Inspired by one of my favourite films of all time, Labyrinth, I met Wintersong with equal amounts of excitement and apprehension. It’s not a short book at 500ish pages, but it flew by…however, I don’t feel like I can say I loved it. In fact I’m really not sure how I felt about it and I finished it a couple of weeks ago!
Basically, The Goblin King steals away Liesel’s beautiful sister Kathe to lure Liesel to the Underground where he plans on making her his bride. Liesel has always dreamt of The Goblin King. She’s drawn to his beauty and his power, but also fears him. There is a passion between the pair but being The Goblin King’s bride means leaving her family behind and never setting foot overground again.
Wintersong was certainly cringe-worthy in places, and outright bizarre in others, and it never went where I thought it would which is a double-edged sword in that it’s good that it was unpredictable but bad in that I wanted things to happen that didn’t.
Overall, I enjoyed this strange, slightly melancholic tale that brought a new Goblin King into my life. I obviously pictured a young Bowie with a ridiculous wig and an even more ridiculous cod piece but that’s not the point (swoon). There were some deliciously dark moments in Wintersong, but the relationship between the MC and The Goblin King never truly felt right, not even in that ‘so bad but good’ way.
I do think Jae-Jones has written a lovely tribute to Labyrinth though, and I also loved the evident use of, and inspiration from Rossetti’s The Goblin Market which I’ve only ever read snippets of but now want to read in its entirety.
“We must not look at goblin men,
We must not buy their fruits:
Who knows upon what soil they fed
Their hungry thirsty roots?”
“Come buy,” call the goblins
Hobbling down the glen.
– The Goblin Market