Wintersong (Wintersong #1) by S Jae-Jones
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
I have been a massive fan of the movie Labyrinth since my teenage years (way too many years ago for my liking) and so when I heard about Wintersong by S Jae-Jones and its story about Liesel who travels to the underworld to rescue her sister who has been captured by the Goblin King to be his bride it evoked so many memories of this marvellous movie that I absolutely had to read it.
Set in historical Europe we are introduced to Liesel, daughter of an innkeeper who lives with her musical parents and her sister and brother. Liesel is a plain girl but a talented musician but she has always stood in her sibling's shadows are her sister Kathe is beautiful and her brother Josef is a violin prodigy. She will be the one who will be left behind to care for her parents and keep the inn running when they go off to follow their dreams and her own ambitions as a composer are sure to come to nothing. She loves her family but feels overshadowed and ignored.
From childhood her grandmother Constanze has told her tales of the Goblin King who seeks young women to steal away to the underworld to be his bride. Liesel has always held faith with her Grandmother's superstitions and remembers playing in the woods with a young man when she was a child who she was sure was the magical Goblin King. When her sister Kathe goes missing she finds out she's been taken to the Underworld, home of the Goblin King, where he intends to make her his bride. Liesel must follow her sister and rescue her before it's too late but the magical Underworld will be full of challenges she's never dreamed of.
This story is an unusual one, we often read stories of the Fae but in this case, it is a slightly darker story with Goblins and their wickedness focused upon and their tendency to trick and perplex us into believing things that are not true. I fell in love with the mysterious Goblin King in this story, his character is written cleverly so that we are drawn into his mysterious world and trust that deep within there is good in his soul. We are never given any clear resolutions as to who he is or his entire story but as this is the first in a duology I am hoping this might be explored more in the second book in the series.
Liesel is an interesting main character. As opposed to other books where our heroine is written as being 'plain' but really they are startlingly beautiful, Liesel is in fact exactly what she is initially described as, an ordinary girl but one whose talents and compassion and soul mean her character is beautiful and we are pulled into the story of the Goblin King being captivated by her soul rather than her outward beauty. Her appeal ebbed and flowed through the story. At times I loved reading her point of view and at others I found she dragged a little and became a little tedious.
There is some wonderful storytelling in this book, the descriptive passages about the Underworld, the Goblin Ball and the surroundings through which Kathe and Liesel travel are immersive and draw you in. At times the character interaction can lag and at times I'd need to focus and keep pressing onward to the next chapter but it was overall a rewarding and good reading experience.
I will definitely be reading Shadowsong, the second in the series, if only because there are lots of untied ends from this book and I want more time with the enigmatic Goblin King. I want to know his story, I want to know more about the bride that returned to the world above and find out if what I suspect may be true. This book was good, and if I'm being really critical I'd give it a 3.5 stars out of 5 as I feel it was good but there is room for improvement in the second book.