Wintersong by S Jae-Jones
All her life, Liesl has heard tales of the beautiful, dangerous Goblin King. They’ve enraptured her and inspired her musical compositions. Now eighteen, Liesl feels that her childhood dreams are slipping away. And when her sister is taken by the Goblin King, Liesl has no choice but to journey to the Underground to save her. But with time and the old laws working against her, Liesl must discover who she truly is before her fate is sealed.
This is definitely fantasy. It also covers mythology, fairytale, romance-sliding-into-erotica, and…is music a trope? It should be. It’s got a lot of music in it, despite it being a book of words only.
It’s also beautiful, eerie and unsettling. In many ways it reminds me of Naomi Novik’s Uprooted; certainly if you’ve read that, you’ll love this.
The first half of the book…well, frankly, it’s a twist on Labyrinth (without the weird companions). Having only recently watched the film, I had a very hard time not picturing David Bowie – with accompanying trouser snake – as the Goblin King! However, it’s also a lovely story; it’s about home, and family, and desires, and choices – and the sacrifices made when you have to choose one thing over another. I love the setting, and Liesl herself is excellently portrayed, as are the characters that surround her in the human world.
And then she steps into the Underground, and the book takes a different path. It’s a story about a young woman finding herself, finding her place, finding her power, finding love…and a story about her helping another find himself. She’s searching for a way out, too, and trying to decide where – and who, what – she wants to be.
It’s lyrical, beautiful, and weird. The entire story is imbued with musical knowledge, and it’s a constant thread running through the words. It’s a tale about myths and life, death, and love. It’s a tale about those left behind by the world, or those who have taken themselves away. It’s about what happens when you get what you want, and get what you wish for. After all, remember the saying, be careful what you wish for…
The start is familiar enough to be a pleasure, yet different enough to be captivating. The ending is painfully haunting. And throughout, there is music.