by S. Jae-Jones
Thomas Dunne | February 7, 2017

      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.
An eARC was provided to me by the publisher

If you saw my Anticipated Things post, you know that I was especially excited for Wintersong. This book is inspired by Labyrinth, which is one of my favorite movies. Needless to say, I was super excited and had some ridiculously high expectations for this book. The big question is, did the book live to the hype? The answer: for the most part. I liked a lot of elements, but I would make a lot of edits to make this book even better.

Wintersong is original and captivating. It's not an exact replica of Labyrinth, but it does has subtle allusions to the film and a delectable twist on the movie (really happy about that). Also, I didn't know it was possible to write something that magical. I haven't been this enchanted by writing since The Night Circus! There's such beautiful writing.

Wintersong took all the undertones in Labyrinth and "exaggerated" it, but not in a bad way. It's a little more foreboding/evil, a lot more sensual, and music is so much more prominent. The author creates this history and it's quite twisted. I read an interview where she said it was inspired by the story of Death and the Maiden. In the book, Death needs the Maiden as sustenance to transition the seasons, one thing leads to another... I didn't really understand the history because it was vague and I can't pick up subtle things. I wish the history and plot were more developed/explicitly stated. The goblins were kind of beating around the bush and I missed the important revelations/didn't pay attention. I found myself lost, figuratively and literally, in the story.

I enjoyed the plot in the beginning because it's similar to the movie-having to save the sibling. It intrigued me because everyone seemed so malicious-the goblins and the goblin king. I wanted to see more of mischievous goblins doing bad things, but that didn't really last long. The story becomes this "fanfiction" of if Sarah said yes to Jareth's offer. The plot becomes lost with all the honeymoon feels. There are small arguments but they always make up and/or have sex. It gave me whiplash with all this back and forth, rapid-fire exchanges. I was overwhelmed by all the information being thrown and was left confused. Where is the plot going? Is there a plot? The writing becomes extremely floral and turns into music appreciation. I wish it was a little less romance-centric. It's a very interesting world, but it's obscured by the romance.

I loved the characters. Liesl is incredibly straight-thinking and has, what I consider, a "good head on her shoulders". She cares deeply for her family and always puts them before her, which leaves her by herself. She cares more about people than herself and that's her "downfall". She considers herself "ugly" and plain, but she creates beautiful music. Since she is a woman and the "music industry" of that time did not particularly like female composers/musicians, she can't pursue her dreams, which was really sad to see. She's very fierce, headstrong and loyal. I fell in love and sympathized her character because she was so full of life and passionate. The author really breathed life into this character.

The Goblin King on the other hand isn't as fun and sly as I hoped. I love him, but his mood swings are insufferable. He can be very vulnerable and lovable, but he can also be cold and evil. He was trying to win Liesl's affections and always trying to make her remember the past. Now that I think about it, he's kind of like Maser Gracey from The Haunted Mansion. Unfortunately, I didn't get to feel or see his wrath. I didn't feel an air of omnipotence, which is also disappointing. I want him to be evil and more sinister. 

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