Publisher: St. Martin’s Press, A Thomas Dunne Book for St. Martin’s Griffin
Date of publication: February 7th, 2017
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Wintersong – Book 1
Shadowsong – Book 2
Book synopsis (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.
Trigger Warning: Kidnapping
Where do I start with Wintersong? When I read the blurb, I thought that this book was going to be a rip off Labyrinth. Everything screamed it. But, as I got into the book, the more I understood that this was NOT a rip off Labyrinth. Instead, I got an excellent and mystical take on the Johan Wolfgang von Goethe’s poem “Erlkonig“.
Wintersong is set in close to turn of century Bavaria. The exact location where Liesl and her family lived was not discussed. Saying that I did think the author built a very rich and complex world around that village. I wish that more was discussed about the actual country itself.
The plot of Wintersong was interesting. Liesl has grown up with stories about The Goblin King. Her brother Josef and herself would escape from their duties and head to Goblin Hollow. There they would play music for The Goblin King. She grew up and started assuming more duties at the inn her family ran. Which meant that she didn’t have time for anything childish. One night, Liesl’s younger sister, Kathe, is taken away by the goblins. Liesl saves Kathe by agreeing to become The Goblin King’s bride. She soon realizes that there is more to The Goblin King than meets the eye. Decisions must be made if Liesl is to survive The Underground. Decisions that will affect everyone she has ever loved.
I was kind of iffish on Liesl when the book started. She came across as a jealous and a little bitter. But as the book wore on, I realized that it was not jealousy or bitterness. While she was happy for her siblings, she was aggravated that she would be the one stuck at the inn with her parents. Her character didn’t come fully to life until she went to The Underground. It was then that I got to see a different Liesl.
Out of the siblings, I liked Josef the best. He fought to get Liesl’s compositions recognized by their father. He wanted Liesl to be recognized as much as he was. Valued as much as he was. He hated to leave her but he had a chance to get out and he took it. Of course, there is a twist with him. A twist that I should have seen coming but didn’t. When The Goblin King revealed it, I was as surprised as Liesl was.
I didn’t like Kathe in the first half of the book. Talk about a self-centered, spoiled brat. She complained about marrying Hans. She complained that Liesl didn’t pay much attention to her. She snooped through Liesl’s things. When Liesl dared to reprimand her…..she didn’t listen to her at the market. It was her carelessness that started the events that made Liesl The Goblin King’s wife. I did get a sense of satisfaction when Kathe was crying because she was the only one who remembered Liesl. Just a little. Then I felt bad.
Where do I start with The Goblin King? He started off the book as this villainous entity. But, as the book went on and more was revealed about him, the more human he became. But, even when he reveals everything to Liesl, he remained an enigma. That isn’t a bad thing. It makes me even more curious to read book 2.
Music was a huge factor in this story. Liesl was a secret composer and could play the violin. Josef was a violin prodigy. Their father used to play for the King in Salzburg. The Goblin King played. If there had to be a soundtrack to this book, I would say it would be almost all violin music and maybe some Bavarian folk songs.
I also liked the nod to Greek mythology once Liesl was in The Underground. I was comparing that part of the book to the myth of Hades and Persephone. Persephone is kidnapped by Hades, brought underground. Her mother Demeter was inconsolable and stopped everything from growing. Persephone convinced Hades to let her go above ground for a few months so that things would grow and thrive. Then she would go back underground and her mother would stop things from growing. The other nod to Greek mythology involved the Sirens and the River Styx. When Liesl goes to make her escape from The Underground, she has to cross a river that reminded me of the River Styx. In this river lived The Lorelei. The Lorelei were like the Sirens. They lured people to their death with their music. Like the Sirens.
I do wish that more background information was given on the goblins. I enjoyed reading about them but felt that their backstory was lacking a bit. I hope that more is explained about them in the next book.
The romance aspect of the book did creep me out at first. I mean, The Goblin King has to kidnap women to get them to marry him. There is an alternative reason that is shared later in the book which took the creep factor out. But until then, I was like “Eh.”
The end of Wintersong made me cry. I don’t know if they were happy tears or sad tears. They were a mixture of both. All of the storylines were ended in a way that satisfied me. There was enough given so that the 2nd book could be written. I am hoping to read book 2. I need to find out what will happen to The Goblin King and Liesl.
Pros of Wintersong:
A) A strong female main character
B) Excellent references to Greek mythology
C) The strong musical theme throughout the book
Cons of Wintersong:
A) Kidnapping of brides
B) Not enough background on the goblins
C) Kathe (in the beginning and middle of the book)
I would give Wintersong a rating of Older Teen. There are sexual situations but the author (who wrote this for her 16 year old) was very vague. There is an orgy scene that is vague but you know what is going on. There is no foul language. There is some mild violence. Considering this, I would recommend that no one under the age of 16 read this book.
The only trigger warning I would give Wintersong is kidnapping. Other than that, it is trigger free.
Wintersong is a book that I would definitely recommend to family and friends. I would include a warning about the mild sexual situations and mild violence. I would also reread Wintersong.
I would like to thank the publishers and NetGalley for allowing me to read and review Wintersong.
All opinions stated in this review of Wintersong are mine.
**I chose to leave this review after reading an advance reader copy**