Published by Macmillan on February 7, 2017
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The last night of the year. Now the days of winter begin and the Goblin King rides abroad, searching for his bride...
All her life, Liesl has heard tales of the beautiful, dangerous Goblin King. They’ve enraptured her mind, her spirit, and inspired her musical compositions. Now eighteen and helping to run her family’s inn, Liesl can’t help but feel that her musical dreams and childhood fantasies are slipping away.
But when her own sister is taken by the Goblin King, Liesl has no choice but to journey to the Underground to save her. Drawn to the strange, captivating world she finds—and the mysterious man who rules it—she soon faces an impossible decision. And with time and the old laws working against her, Liesl must discover who she truly is before her fate is sealed.
I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Wintersong. Guys, this. book. It’s polarizing, to say the least. Kirkus panned it. Publisher’s Weekly wasn’t much nicer. But I adored it.
Liesl is the most human character I’ve encountered in fiction in a long time. She’s contradictory in her beliefs and actions. She makes a ton of mistakes. She’s both selfless and selfish. She’s the true embodiment of someone with selfish dreams who also wants to do right by her family. She a musical genius confined by the social constraints of her time. She’s a loving sister. She’s a sister who plays favorites. Who sacrifices. Who opines. Who has burning passion. Who longs. She’s dutiful in the mortal world, but the Goblin King and the Underground urge her to grab her passion and act on it.
The book, in three parts, mimics the structure of a sonata: fast, slow, fast. This probably accounts for the criticism of the book’s pacing. I found the pacing matched story quite well. The fast, slow, fast sections allowed me to catch my breath and enjoy the lyrical prose before the pace quickened again.
The prose is gorgeous. It conveyed the time period, the subject, and the theme very well. I got serious writer’s envy. I can never manipulate words to be as lyrical as S. Jae-Jones makes them in Wintersong. The romance was intense. Liesl and the Goblin King have a torrid affair, where Liesl insists on taking control of her own pleasure. She tries to do the same with Hans in the mortal world, and he rebukes her for not acting chaste while he passionately kisses her. It creates an super interesting parallel. Mortal world = societal constraints. Underground = self-actualization. Liesl takes what she learns in the Underground back to the mortal world, and I’m anxious to see what she does with it. Wintersong‘s sequel will be published in 2018, so I’ll find out then, I guess.
Other things I enjoyed: the changeling reference. Josef and Francois’s affair. The parallels with Rosetti’s The Goblin Market. That the Goblin King values Liesl’s beautiful soul over her appearance. That Liesl is such a strong character who learns to value her own wants and needs and passions.
You are the monster I claim.
Lyrical and haunting. Wintersong is a new favorite fairy-tale retelling.
© 2017, Jessica Workman Holland. All rights reserved.