Review: Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones

Monday, March 6, 2017

Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones
Publisher: Thomas Dunne
Publication Date: February 7th, 2017
Rating: 2 Stars
Source: Giveaway
Format: Physical ARC
Pages: 436

Summary (from Goodreads):

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.

**I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.**

Wintersong was definitely one of my most anticipated books of 2017. A retelling of the movie Labyrinth with a romance between the girl and the Goblin King? Sign me right up!

Unfortunately, this book was a raging disappointment for me. I nearly DNFed this book like 3/4 of the way through, but I just wanted to see if it got any better. Originally, I thought I felt the same way about this book as I did about Truthwitch, let down by the hype. But that's not it because in the end, I did like Truthwitch, but I can't even say that I like this book.

I've been thinking about what to write about this book. What did I like? I literally can't think of anything that I actually really liked about this book. I didn't like the characters. I didn't like the romance. I didn't like the goblins. I didn't like the story.

Be aware, that there will be spoilers in this review.

So, the first thing I want to say about this book is that it did not resemble Labyrinth to me at all. Like, there's goblins and the Goblin King and a kidnapped sibling that needs rescuing, but to be honest, that's about where the resemblances ended for me.

Liesel is the dutiful, plain, boring daughter of innkeepers. Her sister is beautiful, vain, spoiled, etc. Her brother is a very talented violinist. Liesel apparently loves both of them, but at the same time spends the entire novel being whiny, pathetic, and jealous. She wants to be beautiful and talented like them, but woe is her, she's just a 'queer and unlovely little girl.'

When her sister Kathe is taken by the Goblin King, Liesel must find her way to the underground to save her. But the world above doesn't seem to remember that Kathe ever existed and Liesel spends entirely too much time enjoying her life without Kathe in it, composing her music, being doted on by her loved ones, basically living the way that she has always wanted to live. 

Finally she decides that she shouldn't let Kathe be stuck down there with the Goblin King forever. She makes her way down there, bests the Goblin King and saves her sister. Which all seemed to happen so much faster than anything else in the first half of the book and it was probably the most interesting part. Instead of grabbing her sister and making like a hockey player and getting the puck out of there, she decides to give herself to the Goblin King to save the world above from eternal winter.

That is really about where the plot ended, but there is a whole lot of book left. Which is basically 90% music/sex and 10% actual stuff.

So this is the part where the romance really comes into play. I am someone who basically lives for the romance in books. I can find myself shipping even those characters that I don't actually think belong together. But I could not find it in me to ship Liesel and the Goblin King.

Their relationship is so hot/cold. And almost creepy. I feel like the Goblin King has been grooming Liesel to be his bride since she was a child and he's like centuries old. Then he snatches her sister and makes her play a game to get her back. Then she succeeds and should be on her merry way with her sister NEVER looking back, but she's like, "You know what? I will never find the kind of love and affection and attention I want with my family who loves me and that is not a life I want to live. I will give up my life above and go underground where I can be the bride of the Goblin King and he can touch me the way I want to be touched."

So she goes underground, marries the Goblin King, gets drunk and throws herself at him in a 'sexy' scene that was hideously awkward and that I think would make this book NA, rather than YA. And when the Goblin King denies her because he wants "her, entire" before he ravages her, she throws the mother of all temper tantrums and destroys everything in her room in a fit of over-the-top rage. Just because she wasn't getting any???

Then they seem to be not on speaking terms for awhile before she tries to play music for him so that she can get a piece of that Goblin King, but she just can't do it. She's spent a lifetime not being good enough, being talked down to, being made to feel worthless and untalented. But guess what is gonna fix that right up for her?! A PENIS. All she needed all along was a penis to make her feel anything positive about herself at all basically. And then of course the music comes flowing the f*** out of her like a stream.

There are so many things that I have questions about too. The magic. Josef. The changelings. What the h-e-double hockey sticks is the big deal about Liesel knowing the Goblin King's real name? Is he Rumplestiltskin? Doesn't he mouth it to her at the end? What are the old laws? Who was the first bride of the Goblin King that didn't end up dead? How do people become the new Goblin King? What's going to happen now that Liesel is free again? What about that eternal winter? What are the consequences? What is even going on?

I don't even know what to say about that ending except that I'm glad there's gonna be a sequel because it almost seemed like that was just the end. I don't know that I want to read it, but still.

Things in particular that I just did not like about this book:

How sex was used. That's not a healthy way to portray sex to young readers. Sex isn't gonna fix your problems. Losing your virginity isn't gonna make you bleed like a stuck pig. You don't need a man to make you have worth.

THE REPETITIVENESS!!! If I EVER in my life read the phrase "austere young man" again, I will immediately DNF whatever it is I'm reading. I think that phrase was on one page alone like THREE TIMES!! The phrases Goblin King, Der Erlkonig, mien Herr, Lord of Mischief, Ruler Underground, etc. They just needed to stop.

And I mean, I appreciate that Liesel was a talented composer and that music was a big part of her life and of her story. But I don't think that it should have been like the entire plot of the second half of the book. It wasn't interesting. It got really old, really fast. I didn't understand anything she was saying when she was talking about music. Liesel sitting at her klavier, obsessively making music wasn't fun to read about. It was boring.

Overall, this book was not for me. At all. I probably wouldn't personally recommend it, but it seems that like 90% of people who have read this book have liked it. I just hope that you like it more than I did if you read it.

Have you read Wintersong? What did you think about it?


  1. So I personally did enjoy Wintersong but I can totally agree that it has some problematic elements and not so great rep to teenagers! The writing was quite beautiful and the characters were so layered but the use of sex seemed a little unnecessary and I was left with a lot of questions by the end.

    xx Anisha @ Sprinkled Pages

    1. I have seen a lot of people saying that the writing was so beautiful. I think I was so disappointed/disenchanted by it that I didn't even notice. Ugh! But I'm glad that you really enjoyed it! I hope all of your questions are answered in the next book!

  2. I liked this one, but I had questions like you. Hopefully they'll be explored in the sequel. There definitely need to be some consequences to Liesl's actions!

    1. I'm glad you liked it! I really want to know what the consequences will be, but I think I just want someone to tell me what happens. Haha!

  3. Eeep, I'm sorry you hated this one! i really enjoyed it :D And I really want to read the sequel, especially after that ending o.o

    Brittany @ Brittany's Book Rambles

    1. I wish I would have enjoyed it too! I was looking so forward to this book! I think this is the biggest book disappointment I've had in a really long time! I want to know what happens in the sequel, but I haven't decided if I want to read it to find out.

  4. Wow. I have so many questions after reading your review (though not enough to try the book because I just have too many other things to read right now). I don't think I've ever seen the entire Labyrinth movie so I wonder if my opinion would be better or worse for not having source material to which to compare the novel. Hmmmm.

    1. If I was gonna guess, I would say your opinion would be better for not having seen Labyrinth. Because it was nothing like the movie. I am still so disappointed by how much I hated this book. :(


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