Today I’m excited to be taking part in the blog tour for Wintersong, a magical debut novel by S. Jae Jones.
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.
Elisabeth is one of three children. She often feels forgotten, coming in last behind her musical prodigy violinist brother, Josef, and her beautiful sister, Kathe. Liesl struggles to find her place in a world where her own musical talents are overlooked in favor of Josef’s and she doesn’t see a happy future for herself. When Kathe is taken by the Goblin King, a figure whom Liesl thought to be only a children’s story from her past, she journeys to the Underworld to save her. In order to save Kathe, Liesl must give herself up – her self, entire – to the Goblin King and become his Queen.
Things aren’t easy between Liesl and the Goblin King. It’s a relationship filled with secrets and presided over by magical forces. As Liesl discovers that she cares about the Goblin King –when she can see through his mischievous trickery – she has to decide whether she can truly stay with the Goblin King as his wife. Her decision has potentially serious ramifications for both goblins and humankind.
The world building in Wintersong is beautiful and encapsulating. S. Jae Jones has constructed a world filled with magic and secrets that is only enhanced by the lovely prose. Her detailed descriptions transport the reader to the Underworld where the unhappy Goblin King resides over his subjects. As Liesl spends more time with the Goblin King, the truth of how he became the Goblin King and the ramifications of her sacrifice become clear. For the first time, Liesl also has the freedom to express herself musically and she embraces that by working alongside the Goblin King, who originally fell in love with Liesl for her unrestrained musical passion.
I really enjoyed the way that music is woven into the story. It’s almost as if you can hear the music that Liesl is composing as her story gets told. Jones deserves credit for bringing music to life through the written word. While the relationship between Liesl and the Goblin King is a little insta-lovey, there are some beautifully written scenes between the two of them. The Goblin King’s aloofness is a little off-putting at times, but occasional glimpses of his true character help structure him as human.
The ending will leave you grasping for more. It’s not quite a cliffhanger, but it’s close. There is little sense of resolution as Liesl makes her decision. The good news is that there is a sequel in the works. Wintersong isn’t perfect but it is beautifully written and the enchanted world is worth some time exploring.
S. Jae-Jones (called JJ) is an artist, an adrenaline junkie, and erstwhile editrix. When not obsessing over books, she can be found jumping out of perfectly good airplanes, co-hosting the Pub(lishing) Crawl podcast, or playing dress-up. Born and raised in Los Angeles, she now lives in North Carolina, as well as many other places on the internet, including Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, Instagram, and her blog.
WINTERSONG: A Novel By S. Jae-Jones Published by St. Martin’s Griffin **On Sale February 7, 2017**
Hardcover | $18.99 ISBN: 9781250079213 | Ebook ISBN: 9781466892040