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"Darkly romantic and atmospheric in all of the best ways, this book reads like a fever dream you never want to wake from." —Emily A. Duncan, New York Times bestselling author of Wicked Saints and Ruthless Gods

Dark, romantic, and unforgettable, Wintersong is an enchanting coming-of-age story for fans of Labyrinth and The Cruel Prince.

The last night of the year. Now the days of winter begin and the Goblin King rides abroad, searching for his bride…

All her life, Liesl has heard tales of the beautiful, dangerous Goblin King. They’ve enraptured her mind, her spirit, and inspired her musical compositions. Now eighteen and helping to run her family’s inn, Liesl can’t help but feel that her musical dreams and childhood fantasies are slipping away.

But when her own sister is taken by the Goblin King, Liesl has no choice but to journey to the Underground to save her. Drawn to the strange, captivating world she finds—and the mysterious man who rules it—she soon faces an impossible decision. And with time and the old laws working against her, Liesl must discover who she truly is before her fate is sealed.

Rich with music and magic, S. Jae-Jones's Wintersong will sweep you away into a world you won’t soon forget.

436 pages, Hardcover

First published February 7, 2017

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About the author

S. Jae-Jones, called JJ, is an artist, an adrenaline junkie, and the NYT bestselling author of Wintersong. Born and raised in Los Angeles, she now lives on the wrong coast, where she can’t believe she has to deal with winter every year. When not writing, JJ can be found working toward her next black belt degree in taekwondo, being run ragged by her twin dogs, Castor & Pollux, or indulging in her favorite hobby—collecting more hobbies.

NOTE: Only here to drop hints. 👀 And maybe occasionally answer questions.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 5,702 reviews
Profile Image for Katerina.
422 reviews16.8k followers
February 3, 2017
“You are the monster I claim.”

Dark and poetic.
Frightening. Seductive. Beautiful.
I claim this beautiful tale, I claim the sorrow, the dreams, the wildness, the magic, the darkness and the pain that consumed me.
I loved it.

“Once there was a little girl who played her music for a little boy in the wood.”

But the girl grew up, and forgot about the boy. She continued her life as if he never existed, she kept her family together, composed her music in the dark and wished, for attention, for desire, for greatness. For a world where she was the protagonist and not the one hiding behind her siblings. But the boy remembered. He waited in his gloomy kingdom, until he ran out of patience and kidnapped the girl's sister, in order to lure the girl into his cold and cruel domain. They became enemies, friends, strangers, lovers, but their story was not meant to have a happy ending. Unless they made one for themselves.
“Now the days of winter begin, and the Goblin King rides abroad, searching for his bride.”

Liesl's story was indeed a Wintersong. A half-remembered lullaby, sang softly in a cold, white night that filled you with longing and nostalgia, a music your mind could not fully comprehend but a part of you recognized. When you dive into Wintersong, reality is not something concrete. Just when you think you finally grasped it, it slips through your fingers. You can't read it with your eyes nor your brain. It tears down the barriers of reason, until you are lost in a tempest of images and illusions, sinful thoughts and deeds, shadows and light.
You read it with your soul.
“There is music in your soul. A wild and untamed sort of music that speaks to me. It defies all the rules and laws you humans set upon it. It grows from inside you, and I have a wish to set that music free.”

Liesl's story was sheer magic. Devious goblins, a Lord of Mischief, a kingdom underground, a set of laws that demanded the greatest sacrifices. And this different, mystical world, despite its lack of colour and life, was fully capable of bewitching you. S. Jae-Jones' narration was both raw and lyrical, her characters good and evil, tainted and pure, cunning and innocent. Liesl was a puzzle for me, I liked her and hated her at the same time. She was too selfish, too jealous, too self-absorbed, too shallow, too vain, too real. She wasn't a heroine polished by her noble deeds, just a woman who was broken in order to find herself. And the Goblin King? A tragic figure bound by immortality, cruel yet unexpectedly tender, a hero and a villain, young and ancient, pious and sinner.
“The kiss is sweeter than sin and fiercer than temptation. I am not gentle, I am not kind; I am rough and wild and savage.”

Liesl's story was a lament. An ode to things lost and found, to love, to art, to tears and to laughter, to music itself. Liesl's grandmother advised her to beware the goblin men and the wares they sell, but I say give in. Taste Wintersong. Covet it. And let the winds of winter warm your heart.
“Once upon a time, there once was a great king who lived underground...”

*ARC generously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

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Profile Image for Marie Lu.
Author 57 books133k followers
September 28, 2016
WINTERSONG is a maze of beauty and darkness, of music and magic and glittering things, all tied together with exquisite writing. This is a world you will want to stay lost in. I had the honor of hearing about this wonderful story in its earliest stages, and I'm so thrilled and excited that S. Jae-Jones' work will soon be out for you all to obsess over. Don't you dare skip this.
Profile Image for Brittney ~ Reverie and Ink.
259 reviews4,892 followers
September 13, 2018
I was absolutely hooked from the intro. One of the best openings to a story, in my opinion.


The plot is basically Hades/Persephone meets Caraval. It is not only magical, but mysterious and riveting - exploring so many heart felt topics such as the bond between siblings, sacrifice, and self-acceptance.

Leisl the older "ugly" sister, the overlooked talent, and the backbone of her family. I connected with her and her insecurities/struggles, especially in the beginning. I think you'll either love the book for that - or disconnect from it entirely. We end up so deep in Leisl's issues/emotions and I think if you aren't right there with her emotionally, you'll find this book a bit boring-especially the last half. Additionally, It isn't a light read AT ALL. The writing is so rich and full and it honestly reads more like an adult novel, in my opinion (which I loved.) It didn't feel YA to me in the least. (Not to mention there is adult content.)

I also think this could have been split into two books as the first half and second half differ from each other a great deal. The first half is wild and beautiful and feels like a chase/game. I can't say much about the second half aside from it focuses 100% on Leisl's emotional issues and the aftermath of what happens in the first half. It was quite slow and a bit frustrating at times... but I was so connected to Leisl that it hit me in the feels. I almost feel like I should review the first half and second half in two different blocks of this review- but since it is a new release, I'll let it sit for a while.

I should note - this is a Labyrinth retelling - or was at least inspired by it, but please do not go into this expecting something even remotely close to Labyrinth. The only thing that seems similar is the description of the Goblin King - but even that isn't quite the same.

Okay, since there have been lots of questions about whether or not there is a sequel, let me clear this up! I asked the author myself (twitter) and she said that there IS a sequel and it IS the continuing story. It is not a novella, nor is it about other characters. And good thing too- because I was pretty much dead inside after that ending and I was freaking out. PHEW.

My Blog ~ Instagram ~ Twitter ~ Etsy
Profile Image for Chelsea Humphrey.
1,439 reviews78.1k followers
December 22, 2016
Let’s jump right in. This is going to be a difficult one to review because I felt like I loved it as much as I didn’t. I settled on a 3 star review after wrestling with it overnight; I felt it a good compromise overall as it still reflects that I’m glad I read it while also addressing the issues I couldn’t overlook. I’m going to break this up into two sections of likes and dislikes, then you can decide for yourself if it’s the sort of read you’re looking for. Also, if you’ve read the book already, maybe we can discuss and compare our likes/dislikes.

“My life is like a broken bowl,
A broken bowl that cannot hold
One drop of water for my soul
Or cordial in the searching cold;
Cast in the fire the perish’d thing;
Melt and remold it, till it be
A royal cup for Him, my King.”
-CHRISTINE ROSSETTI, A Better Resurrection

Things I Liked:

-Can we start with how gorgeous the cover is? From the moment I first saw it, I was drawn in and it landed a place on my TBR shelf on Goodreads. Throw in the fact that it is a YA fantasy involving goblins and I felt I had won the jackpot when St. Martin’s Press sent me a widget. The concept, while seemingly similar to many YA books out now, was actually unique and quite different. This is not a fairy tale of mortal girl meets sexy goblin king, falls madly in love, and overcomes all obstacles for an unbelievable (even for fantasy) happily ever after. In fact, this almost has no trace of YA fantasy to it; this is a very grown up tale, but we’ll get into that later.

-I surprisingly liked how uncomfortable this story made me. It went against all pre-conceived notions of what YA novels consist of these days. The story revolves around Liesl/Elisabeth, a homely girl who is seen to have no aesthetic beauty (read no value) to anyone in the mortal realm. This fact is constantly ingrained in the reader’s brain and isn’t changed throughout the book. There is no magical makeover that happens, and even the goblin king admittedly was not attracted to her physical appearance. I’m grateful that there is some YA literature floating around that pushes the fact that beauty is not the end all and other qualities and talents are far more valuable than the fleeting looks of youth and good health instead of consistently filling the next generation’s brains with the nonsense that beauty is the most highly valued trait a person can attain.

-Without getting into spoiler territory, I’m really grateful this book didn’t have a cookie cutter ending. If you are looking for an upbeat, happy-go-lucky, fairy tale ending, this is not your book. That said, there was a certain degree of closure with a glimmer of hope; there is also much to be said about the value placed on Liesl/Elisabeth due to, not her looks, but her sheer talent. This is encouraged throughout the book and is portrayed as the utmost important sliver of plot through the last page.

Things I Disliked:

-The pacing was incredibly slow. If I had gone into this book blindly, I never would have guessed this was a YA novel. I would have seen the fantasy element immediately, but I felt a heavy sense of literary fiction of the adult genre by the exquisite prose and classical sense of language used. The writing was beautiful and of excellent quality; if this had been marketed as an adult story and shaved down to novella sizing, it would have hands down been a 5 star read for me. I just couldn’t get past the feeling of burden while reading a 450 page book with no real action or plot progression until the final 15% of the book. There is heavy detail, but it gave a feeling of trying to force a connection with the characters. I felt that I knew about them intimately without feeling like I connected with them, if that makes sense.

-The romance was a bit off for me. Without giving outright spoilers, the connection between the goblin king and Elisabeth was confusing and, if I’m honest, a bit irritating. I’ll be the first to admit this irk is clearly personal and I don’t expect it to bother anyone but myself. I just couldn’t connect with their relationship when I felt I was getting whiplash from their moments together. For starters, there is a traditional feel to their relationship; there was absolutely no romantic contact between the two until after they wed. This was a refreshing change from the whirlwind, unbelievable romances we see in most books today, and I respected what I thought was the author removing the focus off of their physical relationship to focus on other, more important aspects of their union. This was the somewhat confusing part; while there are some descriptions of the few times they come together (not overly descriptive but somewhat), they never seem to follow through. It was confusing to me that this married couple has “partial sex” a few times but always in a negative connotation. I have heard that this was originally intended as an adult standalone fantasy that was heavily graphic in the romance department, but that all those scenes were removed to make this a YA novel, which may explain the awkward flow here.

-I’m not musically gifted, so the in-depth discussion and explanations involving classical music and musical composition were wasted on me. I wish I could value that piece of the story more, but it’s just not in my genre of interest. This is a good 75+% of the story, so for me that made it a bit difficult to entertain that “compelling read” feeling we all treasure so dearly.

I could ramble on, but I think you get the idea. While this didn’t quite meet my original expectations, I can easily see the desire for a novel like this and applaud the author for writing a story that didn’t revolve around a beautiful young woman and praise only this aspect of her while forcing a love triangle with every male in the book falling at her feet in love with her. I think we need more YA like this; a cleaner, more pure story that values females above solely being beautiful and forces a younger audience to read at a more advanced level. I’m very interested to see what Jae-Jones writes next; I think she has the makings of a longtime, best-selling author that could change the face of the YA genre as we know it.

Many thanks to the publisher for providing my copy via NetGalley; it was a pleasure to provide an honest review.
757 reviews2,346 followers
December 26, 2017
You know what, waving a red flag in front of a bull, getting slammed to the wall by the bull and dying would hurt less than reading the words in this book. Writers like S Jae-Jones need to be illegal because thEY ARE SO EVIL AKDHSF.

Wintersong is a painfully beautifully written book about nineteen year old Elisabeth (Liesl) who has always been a responsible and caring older to sister to her siblings Joseph and Kathe, sacrificing her future and dreams for her brother Joseph. She's always lived in the shadow of her brother's music and no matter how much she wants, she can't reveal her musical talents for the sake of her family.

When Liesl and Kathe decide to visit the market, something happens that causes Kathe to disappear to the Underground and she is suddenly forgotten by everyone. Liesl has to journey into the Underworld and rescue her sister,,,, but sacrifices must be made because nothing is eVER FAIR.

Honestly, I can understand why some people wouldn't like the second half. While the first half is catchy and interesting, the second half reads very slow. In order to enjoy the second half of this book, you need to really like Liesl's character because it's all about her.

*get ready because this is so shocking* I LOVED everything in this book. I loved the pacing, plot, characters and the gorgeous writing. The writing is so hauntingly beautiful. It's like quick sand. It pulls you in and your just unable to get out of it.

Liesl is a character I really loved. Many people might find her annoying as fuck and I get it, but??? in a way she's so selfless and brave and beautiful in her plainness and I love her?? She's talented in her music and sacrifices so much for the people she loves, it makes me cry.

but you know who makes me cry the most??


I volunteer to grow big, white, fluffy wings to protect this beautiful creature from all the evil things in the world and vow to give him warm, soft hugs and chocolate chip cookies with cotton candy and EVERYTHING PURE AND NICE BECAUSE THAT'S WHAT HE ALL MY LOVE AND EVERYTHING NICE. He's brokenTM, The Lord of Mischief, Mein Heir, the monster i claim (fuck i'm crying ded bye), cruel, cold, but he's got a soft heart underneath all that muscle aND

Their relationship was so beautiful and y'all I cried more than I've ever cried in my life while reading this book, like goodbye and goodnight.

Like, if you ever want to visit me, visit your local trashgcan because that's where I'll be!!!

Hi, my name is Sana and I love pain. :) And whenever I want some pain, I read this !! Book!! :)

I finished reading it for the second time and I'm! Still! Crying! And! Dead!!!!!

review to come once someone CPR's my ghost

me: okay, today i am going to sit my ass down and review Wintersong.
*grabs laptop and logs into goodreads*
*searches up wintersongggg*
*clicks "edit review"*

uh this book-
i love-
the writing is gorgeous and-

oh look, i can't write a review. sorry folks. JUST KNOW THAT YOU SHOULD READ THIS. OKAY? OKAY, GOODBYE.

*puts book down*
*lies down*
*deep breaths*
*stares into space*

Profile Image for Virginia Ronan ♥ Herondale ♥.
531 reviews34.5k followers
July 23, 2019
”The last night of the year,” Constanze said. “Now the days of winter begin and the Goblin King rides abroad, searching for his bride.”

I don’t know about you, but I was so intrigued by this sentence, that I had to continue to read the entire book and I’m very glad to say that I wasn’t disappointed. “Wintersong” truly gave me everything I expected to read … and then some. XD It was obvious that Jae-Jones did her research and even though there were a few things that bugged me, she still did a great job at including the German myth of the “Erlkönig”.

As someone who grew up in Austria it was impossible to avoid Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s work, but since he’s one of my favourite poets “Der Erlkönig” always held a special place in my heart. I mean it’s a poem about a faerie king who tries to seduce a father’s son. And it’s a very haunting and suspenseful piece of work as well. <3 So if you haven’t read it yet, I totally recommend you to read it before you start with this book. It will give you an idea about the Erlkönig’s true nature and I think Jae-Jones nailed this side of the faerie king more than just well. *lol*

Speaking of which, this book was so dark, twisted and artful I just couldn’t get enough of it. The Underground, the atmosphere, the goblins, the revels, the changelings, the myth of the Lorelei, just everything!!! It was such a pleasure to read this and the writing style was so beautiful that I could have cried. <3 I loved that the author created such a unique world and that you couldn’t help but sympathize with Liesl and the Goblin King. They both had their roles to play and they did it as best as they could. XD

If there was anything I didn’t like then it were the German spelling mistakes or the frequent use of the phrase “the austere young man”. I know why Jae-Jones used this kind of wording to describe the human side of the Goblin King, but after reading it for the 100th time I got as tired of it as of Sarah J. Maas use of the word “mate” or the phrase “my inner goddess” in 50 Shades of Grey. *lol*
There are a lot of other words that could have been used instead of “austere” and giving it a little bit of thought I already come up with “grave, serious, demure, solemn, severe, stern” the list could probably go on and on… I really loved this book but the constant repetition of “austere” took away a little bit of my enjoyment.

Plus: Can we agree that it’s “Gugelhupf” and not “Gugelhopf”? *lol* I know I’m a bean counter now, but as a person that loves to eat “Gugelhupf” I really couldn’t read it spelled like that. XD Still, as far as I could find out Jae-Jones has no German background so she actually did a great job at including the language and its legends. XD

I’m really looking forward to read “Shadowsong” soon, because it just can’t end like this! There’s got to be a solution and I’m so ready to be swept away by it. *lol*

The characters:

You are entering the realm of the Goblin King and if you don’t want to be spoiled you better leave his domain. ;-) The Underground is dangerous and our changelings love to confuse mortal estrays. Oh, and they bite. ;-P *lol*

Liesl aka Elisabeth:

“After all, I was not a child of beauty; I was a child of the queer, the strange, and the wild.“

Now Liesl was a character I could totally relate to. She loved music and composed her own pieces and she found a lot of enjoyment in listening to other people play. I’m pretty much the same, I love to write lyrics and to compose a melody to them, but I also appreciate it when I can close my eyes and someone else plays or sings for me. If they are really good I might even be moved to tears. (Yes, this actually happens!!) So imagine me starting to read this book and finding our MC Liesl! It was amazing! Not only because of the musical aspect but also because we both seemed to be pretty alike when it comes to being in the background. *lol* It’s not that Elisabeth was a shy or quiet character, quite the contrary, she’s outspoken, passionate, outgoing, headstrong, brave, pretty stubborn and compassionate but because of her family and the expectations they had she never even got a proper chance to fulfil her potential. In her father’s eyes Josef was the better musician and because of that he neglected Liesl. And in all honesty this was one of the main reasons my heart bled for her. T_T During her time in the Underground she eventually found her own voice though and even though it hurt to see her waste away, it was still good to know that she was finally doing something for herself! XD Her escape at the end didn’t come as a surprise but I really want to know what happened to the poor Goblin King!!! >_<

”I had watched him study me, and knew now how he had become the most sublime interpreter of my art. He was as familiar to me as the sound of my own voice.”

”I wanted to bend the entire world – both above and below – to what I needed. For once. Just once. Light my flame, mein Herr, I thought. Light my fire, and watch me burn.”

”I got up from the bed. With each step forward, the Goblin King retreated, but when I had his back pressed against the wall, he could run no farther from me. I placed my hands on his chest, a light touch, and rose up onto my toes to whisper in his ear.
“I came back,” I murmured. “Of my own free will.”

The Goblin King aka Der Erlkönig:

“You are clever. I do not offer this gift to you out of the goodness of my heart, but out of a selfish need to see what you might do with it.”

I absolutely loved and adored the Goblin King!!! Seriously, this character was A.M.A.Z.I.N.G!!! <333 Jae-Jones did such a great job at turning him into a complex and morally grey character and even though I didn’t agree with many of the things he did, I still couldn’t help but like him. I mean the Erlkönig is super manipulative, he does what needs to be done, he doesn’t even shy away from using Käthe as leverage to get what he wants, yet at the same time he feels conflicted about his actions. It was obvious that he loved Liesl and that he didn’t want to hurt her, but if he needed to do it in order to save his people he still went for it regardless of his own feelings for her. I mean woah!!! If that isn’t the embodiment of a tortured character then I really don’t know. *lol* The Goblin King just couldn’t change the way he was, because his humanity was at least as much a part of him as the role of being the Lord of the Underground. Both were facets of his character but ultimately his body and soul were bound to his duty as the Goblin King. Talk about feeling torn! >_< It made me sad that he was forced to let Liesl go, but I could understand why he did it. In the end his heart won and he could no longer bear to watch her die. =(( My poor Erlkönig is all alone now though. *sniff*

”There was a grace to every line of his body; elegance was not only in his air, but in the way he moved. Even when he was awkward. Even when he was unsure.”

”Coerced is such a strong word,” he said. “I like to think I am persuasive on my own merits.”
“She thinks you are a Hungarian count.”
He waved his hand. “We all have our flaws.”

”I would take my violin and play.” The words were spoken almost before his lips could catch up to what he was saying. “I would walk the world and play, until someone called me by name and called me home.”

”What will happen to you if I win?” I whispered.
A smile crossed his lips, but the corners were downturned, more sad than satisfied. “You know,” he said. “You’re the only one who’s ever asked.”


”Then it became clear just what Käthe’s greatest dream had been: to marry rich. Not for fancy gowns or expensive jewels, but to provide for her family.”

Mhmm Käthe. I liked her because she wasn’t the doll everyone expected her to be. There was a lot of depth to her character once you actually bothered to take a closer look. XD It was obvious that she loved Liesl and even though it took Liesl quite some time to realize this, she eventually did it in the end. I think in some way Käthe reminded me of my own sister, because she was also one of those girls (still is) that draws the stares of people. Just like Käthe my sister never seems to realise that people are looking her way and I could totally relate to Liesl in that regard. It’s not easy to be in the shadow of your sister and Elisabeth’s frustration was more than just palpable for me. Still, Liesl and I love our sisters dearly and we both would go to hell and back (or in this particular case rather the Underground) in order to save them from the Goblin King. *lol* ;-)

“The fluttered and flirted outrageously, carefully oblivious to the stares she drew like moths to the flame. Both men and women traced the lines of her body, the curve of her cheek, the pout of her lip.”

”That one,” the merchant said, pointing to Käthe, whose head lolled against my shoulder, “burns like kindling. All flash, and no real heat. But you,” he said. “You smolder, mistress. There is a fire burning within you, but it is a slow burn. It shimmers with heat, waiting only for a breath to fan it to life.”

The relationships & ships:

Liesl & The Goblin King:

”Oh, Elisabeth,” he said. “You foolish, foolish girl. How easily you give me your trust.”
“I play the hand I am dealt.”
“Yes, and by my rules.” The tips of his teeth glinted. “Beware, Elisabeth. You may prefer the pretty lie to the ugly truth.”

Now those two were a really intriguing couple! *lol* I loved their dynamic and it was refreshing to see that Elisabeth could unnerve the Goblin King at least as much as he was able to unnerve her. XD That scene when she surprised him in his bedchamber and teased him about their supposedly spent night?! XD Just awesome! It showed how human and shy the Erlkönig could be and since this was in stark contrast to his usual swagger I couldn’t help but grin while I read it. *lol* Still, what I probably loved the most about them was their profound recognition of each other’s soul. They knew exactly who the other was and yes, Liesl never got to know the Goblin King’s true name, but that didn’t stop her from seeing his true self. It was beautiful to watch them grow together, to see how their mutual love for music was able to connect them in ways that trumped every physical and carnal experience. They were so perfect for each other and yet they still couldn’t be. Because Liesl would have died a slow death if she would have stayed with the Erlkönig and because he loved her so much he couldn’t bear to watch it happen. Their love is truly tragic and the ending broke my heart. T_T I knew it was bound to end like that but it was still so sad! I really need to read “Shadowsong” asap, because those two deserve a HEA and I hope Jae-Jones will give it to them! (And me, of course!! *lol*)

”My soul thrilled with recognition at the sight of his face, but the reality of him frightened me. He was an old friend in myth and legend; he was a stranger in breath and body.”

”Why did you marry me, if not for this?”
This time it was the Goblin King who stumbled back, as though I had slapped him. “If you thought that I wanted –“

”You were angry when you wrote this, weren’t you? I can see the rage, the impotence, in your notes.” Then he looked up. “Oh, Elisabeth,” he breathed. “You wrote this on your – on our wedding night, didn’t you?”

”I am,” he whispers, “the monster I warned you against.”
“You are,” I say hoarsely, “the monster I claim.”

Liesl & Sepperl:

“Think you that our music comes from God? No, it comes from below. From him. The Ruler Underground.”

Sepperl was a really sweet boy and I wish I would have had a chance to get to know him better. Unfortunately he was only a short part of the book and most of the things we read about him were from Liesl’s memory or from the short glimpses we got to see while he was away from her. Still, I loved that he and Elisabeth had such a strong connection and I hope that we’ll get to see more of him in the second book. Since he’s one of the Goblin King’s Changelings, I’m pretty certain that he’ll have an important part in “Shadowsong” though. XD

”Your soul rests within you, Sepperl.” I lightly touched my hand to his breast. “Here. That’s where your music comes from. Not from the land. Not from the woods outside.”
“I don’t know.” Josef buried his face in his hands. “But I am afraid. I am afraid of the bargain I struck with the stranger in my dreams. But now you understand why I’m too terrified to leave.”


“Wintersong” was everything I wanted to read and even more! This book had the makings of a dark faerie tale and occasionally even managed to give me some serious “The Phantom of the Opera” vibes. If you like dark and mysterious books, if you’re a big fan of music and faeries and if you enjoy a lush and vivid writing style… Well, then “Wintersong” most certainly will be the right choice for you. ;-)


This book isn’t only on "My Book List 2019" but I also pulled it out of my TBR pile when I did my monthly blog meme "Hugs'n'Kisses OR Dismissed by the Missus/Messrs".

So I guess it’s safe to say that fate really wants me to read it. *lol*

And honestly I’ve been dying to do just that!
I mean there are plenty of reasons why I know that I’ll love this:

1.) Faeries!!!
2.) An MC who’s a musician!
3.) The mysterious Goblin King
4.) My parabatai loved it when she read it! XD
5.) An amazing writing style. (Well, at least people claim it’s written beautifully.)

With all this in mind I’m sure I’ll enjoy “Wintersong” immensely and I can’t wait to dig my faerie claws into it. ;-P
Profile Image for Mischenko.
1,014 reviews97 followers
March 29, 2017
To see this review and others please visit www.readrantrockandroll.com

The moment I saw Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones I had to buy it. The cover, the title, the blurb-pretty much everything about the book baited me. First, I must say that I'm a Labyrinth freak and I've been highly anticipating reading this. I was under the impression that this was a true Labyrinth retelling, but there's more going on here.

I was so taken-back in just the first 70 pages of the book. The authors writing style is so appealing. It's exquisite, dark, and romantic. There were also music elements consistent throughout the entire story which I loved. I truly savored this book and the writing is what I appreciated the most.

"Those icy eyes glittered, and I was afraid. I trembled, but not with cold. I ached, but not with pain. My feet began to move of their own accord, and I followed the Goblin King out of the light and into the darkness."

I absolutely loved the way the author added a few poems by Christina Rossetti.

A linnet in a gilded cage, -
A linnet on a bough, -
In frosty winter one might doubt
Which bird is luckier now.
But let the trees burst out in leaf,
And nests be on the bough,
Which linnet is the luckier bird,
Oh who could doubt it now?

There were numerous parts of the story that reminded me of Labyrinth, but some parts led into German folklore like the "Der Erlkönig" which was unexpected considering the "darkness" of the legend involving children.

*Possible mild spoilers*

What reminded me of Labyrinth was the way Liesl envies her sister for her beauty and the love from Hans she wishes she had. It's similar to how Sarah gets sick of Toby in the movie, yet wants him back once he's been taken, and embarks through the Labyrinth to find him. Also, the description of the Goblin King, the sacrifice, the woods, and the underground, the poison peach, the goblin ball, and even the goblin realm. Liesl the main character has to save herself and her sister from the Goblin King which is similar to how Sarah has to rescue Toby as well, and she is expected to allow the Goblin King to rule her. The Goblin King's ability to change memory and time was similar as we remember the trickery Sarah deals with in the movie. We can't forget the music, sure the music is nothing like the music from Labyrinth, but the movie contained a lot of music, an entire soundtrack by David Bowie and Trevor Jones which included songs the Goblin King sang as he communicated with Sarah throughout the movie, similar to how he communicates with Liesl in the book. This story has romance and different characters, but regardless, there's still a lot of Labyrinth here, with character changes and added twists.

I enjoyed all the characters, mainly Liesl and the Goblin King. In the first part of the story I had a love hate relationship with the Goblin King's character because of his unattractive psyche.
However, there were many attracting aspects to the Goblin King later in the story as his character develops. You begin to realize there's much more to admire about him as their relationship grows stronger.

There is so much to love even if the story didn't conclude how I wanted it to and I can't rate this book any less than five stars. I'm going to admit, I'm really hoping for a second book!

October 3, 2021

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You could say that I'm a hardcore Labyrinth fan girl. I love the movie, Labyrinth, and have seen it many times, glitter-dappled set and cheesy puppets aside; it's an interesting story that's clearly inspired by Celtic faerie lore, and (you could argue) the allegorical tale of a girl's coming-of-age through the use of symbolism. In fact, many of the reasons I love the movie are less because of what's in the story and more of what's explicitly left out.

Because of that, I was a little skeptical when I heard that there was a book coming out that was inspired by Labyrinth - skeptical and also bouncing-off-the-walls excited. Because another book came out this year that was also inspired by one of my favorite stories: RoseBlood by A.G. Howard, which turned one of my favorite antiheroes into a psychic vampire who owns a rave club.

I was not pleased with these developments.

WINTERSONG starts out okay. It takes place in historical Bavaria, and is about a selfish brat named Elisabeth who only cares about music. She spends most of the book whining, feeling sorry for herself, and being jealous of her siblings. Then one day, her sister, Kathe, is kidnapped by the Goblin King, and Elisabeth is forced to go Underground to save her because if she doesn't succeed, her sister will be gone forever. The integration of The Goblin Market and Der Erlkonig were interesting, but I've seen Labyrinth fanfiction writers run with this concept before. In fact, one of my favorite authors, Subtilior, has a Labyrinth fanfic called Erlkönig that runs with this concept beautifully. Likewise, Viciously Witty has an excellent Labyrinth fic set in Ireland that is based off and called The Goblin Market.

I get that there's only so many famous works of faerie lore, so the possibility of overlap is high, but that just makes it even more important to set your work apart from others' and go the extra mile to make the story interesting and the characters compelling. The Goblin King in WINTERSONG was not compelling. He did not feel like the King of Mischief; he felt like a nervous guy at prom who is afraid that his mean girlfriend is going to embarrass him in front of all his friends. He even blushes and stammers. He's also apparently a christian, or follows christian tenets, since he goes to chapel in his free time and talks a lot about God (especially in the last quarter of the book). This was really jarring to me as a reader, because many of the faerie lore is based on Celtic mythology that predates Christianity by centuries, so it doesn't really make sense that the "Elf King" would go to church....

I looked on the author's profile, and in one of her "Ask the Author" questions, when answering how she was inspired to write this story she says she " decided to write 50 Shades of Labyrinth." So I don't think that it's a stretch to say that WINTERSONG reads like Labyrinth fanfiction, and not even particularly good or original Labyrinth fanfiction, since it primarily relies on ideas that have already been explored by many others in the fandom. Even the sex in this book - arguably the selling point of the premise, since I'm sure many of the hard-core fan girls of Labyrinth wish that there was an alternative telling of the tale when Jareth and Sarah really did end up together - is uninspired and whiny. Elisabeth whines about the sex, that there isn't enough of it, that he doesn't really want her. There are some truly well-written passages in here, but then you also get ridiculous passages like these: "I dip my quill into the inkwell once again, and join up my teardrops into a song" (204).

If this book is 50 Shades of anything, it's 50 Shades of a Whining Heroine Who Never Shuts the Hell Up. She is one of the most unlikable protagonists I've encountered in a while because all she does is complain and whine and cry and talk about how ugly she is. The only thing that sets the heroine apart are her musical abilities (a similarity it shares with RoseBlood), and she's even a brat about this. She sets her brother's face on fire out of jealousy because he is able to study music because he's a boy and she isn't and gets mad at the Goblin King for obtaining her a klavier because - she says - it's too beautiful for her and that makes her feel bad, basically. I'm sorry, you want me to root for this twit?

This was a huge disappointment for me. The only upside is that it made me want to go watch Labyrinth again and revisit some of my favorite fanfic to read when I was in college.

1 to 1.5 stars
Profile Image for Yusra  ✨.
249 reviews508 followers
December 22, 2022
every time Liesl said “wantonness” i thought of wontons and let me tell you, that was the best part of my reading experience.

you know those books that literally reach out with their painfully beautiful covers and grab onto you?? saying “buy me! i’m pretty”?? well that’s what this book did for me, and tbh I don’t even care… I’m returning it.

from the very first chapter i was like oh no. this is not heading in a good direction. the family dynamic was so annoying and stupid. Liesl did nothing but whine. Kathe (no, I’m not putting the fancy ‘a’ bc i could care less).

let me give you a wrap up.

liesl was like “i wish i was pretty!” and “i want someone to desire me!!!” and I was just like how about u shut ur gobsmacking mouth?? i don’t think i’ve felt such loathing for an MC before. like i felt no ways for her, there was no connection, she could literally fall into a rabbit hole for all I could care.

where was the intrigue??? where was the… scare?? like the goblin king is supposed to be a scary man, no?? STOP IT THIS WAS SUCH A WASTE OF AN IDEA. like he appears in front of her and she just is nodding to all his terms and conditions

nothing made sense. nothing made me feel. this was such a sorry excuse for a hades/persephone novel
i skimmed the last 100 pgs. i loathed whatever i read.

no, really?? what was this. everytime i think about it, i get angry and cannot do anything but scream !!!!

someone bring me a match

buddy read with Nova

if I have to see the words “mein Herr”, “Oh, Elisabeth”, “you, entire”, “Goblin King”, or “Der Erlköning” EVER AGAIN

I will scream.


so many mixed reviews, but the second book has a beauuutiful cover & you already know I’m in for it
Profile Image for Mikee (ReadWithMikee).
203 reviews1,280 followers
April 14, 2017
❝'I am the Lord of Mischief, the Ruler Underground,' he said, mismatched eyes glinting. 'I am wildness and madness made flesh. You’re just a girl'—he smiled, and the tips of his teeth were sharp—'and I am the wolf in the woods.'❞

Thank you to St. Martin's Press for providing me with an ARC!

Wintersong was a work of art. S Jae-Jones's writing was breathtakingly poetic and I found myself whisked away by the first page. The storyline was seductive, passionate, and heartbreakingly beautiful. In a way, it reminded me a bit of Rosamund Hodge's Cruel Beauty and Roshani Chokshi's The Star-Touched Queen. Wintersong was a retelling of Labyrinth but I also found pieces of Beauty and the Beast weaved into the story. The Beast, in this case, took form as the infamous Goblin King and Elisabeth as our Beauty. Beauty not in appearance but in her music.

Although Wintersong has its ups, just like any book, it does have its downsides. The pacing of the story moves very slowly, which proves to be more of a con to a reader who loves action-driven storylines. The plot starts off strong but the momentum dwindles and slows down a bit about halfway through up until the very end. Wintersong is no action-filled fantasy so don't expect there to be any sword fights or magical spells.

One thing I enjoyed was the fact that our heroine, Liesl, wasn't the typical beautiful, jaw-dropping, beauty that we're accustomed to seeing in almost every young adult novel. HOWEVER, it did get overdone a tad bit too much. We just kept hearing about how plain she was throughout the whole book which was just as bad as hearing how beautiful these YA characters are.

I expected to be swept away by The Goblin King, and for the most part I was. He wasn't as swoonworthy as I was hoping he would be but he turned out alright. He was probably the one that saved this whole story for me. I was just so intrigued with his character and I really wanted to know more about him and the person he was before he turned into the ruler of the Underground. The scene in the chapel during his prayers absolutely broke my heart. Even though he was one of the main characters of the story, I really wish we could've gotten more out of him.

If you are a huge Labyrinth fan such as myself, I do suggest reading Wintersong without having any expectations that it would closely resemble the book. I think having that expectation played a part in my disappointment on how the story played out. It maybe a retelling but it is a very loose retelling. The only similarities I found were a few close lines from the film and the concept of the male character being named The Goblin King. Other than that, it's a completely different story.

Wintersong was good, but definitely not as great as I had hoped it would be in the end. The ending wasn't your typical happily ever after, if even, and sadly I was a bit unsatisfied as far as endings went. All in all, I believe that Wintersong is a great book for fans who enjoyed The Star-Touched Queen or Cruel Beauty. Unfortunately, I wasn't a huge fan of either of those books so Wintersong was probably not the book for me. I do favor Wintersong above the other two. I still loved the concept of the story and the romance between Elisabeth and The Goblin King. And I really looking forward to seeing what the companion novel will be about.
Profile Image for Renée Ahdieh.
Author 28 books17.4k followers
October 3, 2016
"Spellbinding and sexy, WINTERSONG is a feast for all the senses. I didn't want this beautifully written book to end."
Profile Image for megs_bookrack.
1,536 reviews9,784 followers
November 15, 2021

Wintersong was dark and slightly heartbreaking.

With this being said, I will admit that the first 50-pages, or so, were rough. I wasn't sure what to think, but mainly my thoughts were composed of sentiments such as:

Do I like this?
Do I actually hate this?
What is going on?

How in hell do I pronounce these names???

With a little patience, it all started to weave together into an intricate, spellbinding story of forbidden love.

Perhaps it makes sense considering the story to view it as a musical composition: timid at first as the story begins to unfold, solid and constant through the middle then a resounding crescendo as we rush towards our ultimate conclusion.

I was surprised that the romance element of this worked for me. I usually am not into whimsical romances, but I didn't mind this.

There are definitely some steamy elements. I even blushed once or twice!

The love between Elisabeth and her Goblin King is somehow fractious, violent and childish all at the same time.

Their connection is so tangible, I felt it in my heart; the ups and downs of their lustful and rough coming together.

The musical elements of the story were beautiful. They helped to bring it alive for me. If this were to be turned into a movie, I believe it would have an absolutely revolutionary soundtrack!

Overall, I felt drawn into the story, slowly but surely and once I was in, I was in, entire. I cannot wait to read the next book of the series!
Profile Image for Cece ❀Rants, Raves &Reviews❀.
250 reviews931 followers
October 3, 2022
This book had the greatest beginning of all time: I am CHALLENGING everyone who reads this review to find a better one than this!!
“Winter turned to spring, spring to summer, summer into autumn, autumn back into winter, but each turning of the year grew harder and harder as the little girl grew up while the Goblin King remained the same. She washed the dishes, cleaned the floors, brushed her sister’s hair, soothed her brother’s fears, hid her father’s purse, counted the coins, and no longer went into the woods to see her old friend.”

A FREAKING PERFECT BEGINNING of introducing a world where magic is hidden/not the norm but exists, a girl who use to be part of that world but eventually left for "reality" but the Goblin king never forgets a bargain..muahha

“Käthe made a face. “It’s always about Josef with you. Don’t you have any dreams of your own?”
I did. They were locked up in a box, safe and sound beneath the bed we shared, never to be seen, never to be heard.”

The burden of being Lisel, the responsible older sister and dutiful eldest daughter who must always put her needs above others. At times it was scary how much I related to this character and the sibling relationships were done sooo well. You know characters are well developed when you want to physically punch their face. So good job!
“Tsk, tsk.” The Goblin King waved one long, slender finger at me. “I had thought you a worthy opponent. We were playing a game, Fräulein, but you don’t seem much inclined to engage me.”

Its the best game in the world: one where he takes what you love and hides it. And if you don't come find it then its his forever. A game that forces you to make selfish and selfless decisions. I'll be perfectly honest guys I am wayyyy to emotionally invested in this plot.


“Liesl,” Josef said again. “I’m so very glad you’re safe. But I must ask you: who have you been searching for?



In this treacherous game, the Goblin king has his tricks but Liesls has her stubborness....we shall see who prevails in the end *Stubborness all the way i believe in you Liesl!!*
“And what had I done with the Goblin King’s gift? I had taken it and hidden it away, like it was something secret, something shameful. Perhaps my lack of faith had cost me everything after all.”

This is where true writing shows: the classic -show don't just tell- was so prominent and well done in this book I wanted to cry. The author DID NOT just simply tell us over and over again about the wisdom of Liesl and how smart she is and what a good sister, BLAH, BLAH, BLAH!!! The author showed her love of her family through her sacrifices and her thought

“So I tried my best to stifle hope. Because hope’s twin was despair, and despair was infinitely worse. If hope hurt, then despair was the absence of hurt. It was the absence of feeling. It was the absence of caring.
I wanted very much to care.”

This is one of the most beautiful and powerful descriptions i have ever read that really showed the struggle of a character to just enrapture us reader. The only thing worse than caring, is not caring at all and I feel like a lot of people would relate to struggles Liesl went through. Being in the goblin world, she slowly looses her spark/energy and I know we can all think of places that drain our own spark.
“I am Elisabeth,” I said. “But Elisabeth is only a name. An empty word I fill with myself. But you had a word once; I see the echoes of it within you.”

This part of the book had me on the edge of my seats. This silly girl with music in her heasrts turned out to be so much more. Short-tempered yet disciplined. Self-indulgent, selfish, yet selfless. She is compassion, hatred, and contradiction all in one. I love Liesl as a character with a deeper understanding than most. I related to her like no other and she helped me with my own shit and this description really soothed me.

And the Golbin king? I would actually kill to find out his name.

Now for my complaints:
1. While the goblin kingdom was meant to be mysterious at times it seemed incomplete
2. While i did love the emphasis on character development, the actual actions were less than satisfied with the most chaotic thing being a simple ball at the beginning
3. Brief skim over the siren creatures that are part of their world but not...?
4. I have others but right now i'm on a book high and i just loved this novel

The wait and agony for book two is slowly killing me, so obviously you all need to read this to share my pain ;)
Profile Image for Tanya Tate.
227 reviews112 followers
March 19, 2018
Edit 2: As of March 19,2018 ,this review has 100 likes on it! That's the most likes have on any of my reviews. Who knew a book i didn't like would get so many likes? lol I'm also putting the link of my review from my blog on here as well.

Edit: I got a fourth point that makes it problematic for me.

Spoilers and Rant mode time

You can also read it on my blog!

DNF@72% 1 Star

I tried so hard to finish this but I couldn't.

I thought after I got halfway through it would get better which it did but then it just fell through for me.

I went through the MC whining about her being plain and not desired by anyone, her being jealous of her sister being a "woman" but sort of slut shaming her and her being jealous brother musical talent which was borderline obsession cause she was kind of using him for her own musical ambitions since she was the composer, her not being on good terms with her dad and being label as the forgotten sister to her talented brother and her being hot and cold with the goblin king. ( which was the only saving grace of this book)

Four things that broke it for me which the author did cause I feel like it was problematic.

1. The author created all this sexual tension between Goblin King and the MC ( I'm not going to try and spell it. ) with them having heavy make outs ,touching, and them both saying they want each other and couldn't even follow through properly. Meaning that you didn't follow through with sex being implied or fade into black if you didn't want to go into full detail. ( But hell She was 19 and you teetering on the edge of New Adult in the first place with the sexual tension so in all honesty...but I digress. The whole YA/NA is a discussion for another time.) Your readers shouldn't have to play the guessing game when it comes to something as important as that.

2. The author choosing to have her MC bleed as a way to saying that she's not a virgin anymore and it being the only proof that they did have sex. How many freaking books and fanfics are going to use this tried stereotypical trope?? That it has been proven by science that if the vagina is properly lubricated that the female will not bleed? That bleeding is not a indication of a woman being a virgin? So why it's still being used? ?? WHY?? All she could have said was her being sore and that's it.

3. The fact the MC finally feels like she stepped into womanhood by giving herself to the goblin king and now finally being able to give herself to the music fully even though the Goblin King has tried so hard for her to open up to her musical side without going to that route yet. That he went through all those unethical things in order for her to become his bride( like kidnapping her sister) so he can awaken her musical side which he know she had hidden inside her since she was a kid. . Are you kidding me? Are you mean to tell me that now since she's not a virgin anymore that she can finally compose music like she should? What the hell?? It's just plays on the stereotype that sex is a rite into womanhood which shouldn't be the case at all. I mean what are you telling your young teenage female readers who are reading this?? What message are you sending?? Especially to your readers who maybe coming to turns with themselves as being asexual......

4. The fact the MC kept insisting the Goblin King to have sex with her and he constantly told her no. It got so cringe worthy to me that I honestly thought that she was going to rape him. She also threw a temper tantrum because of it. Now if this was flipped the other way that the MC was telling him no and he kept insisting they have sex I wonder how many five stars it will would have??*sips tea*

If those four things didn't happen, this book was looking at least a 2.5 or 3 stars for me cause it did keep my interest to that point even tho I wanted to hit the MC so many times. Also the fact this is the second book I read this month that I couldn't stand with older sister/young sister dynamic.With the older sister have to save the younger sister from herself. (cough caraval) Being a little sister myself, I can't stand how younger sisters are always being portrayed as being wild and free.. While the older sister is being portrayed as being jealous of the younger sister. Not all little sisters or Old/Younger sisters dynamic is like that and it's a trope that needs to be squashed. I can tell you that my sister is the most supportive people I have and she more carefree than I am. Hell she have tell me multiple times that I need to stop being so hard of myself cause I'm far from being carefree and wild.

It's a few other things that got me which was the " You not like other girls" line from a side character which is very stereotypical and the repetitive writing. I keep saying that you shouldn't play down to your audience. That you don't have to constantly remind them of certain things.

The only saving grace of this book was the Goblin King even if some of his methods was problematic at best.. He still an interesting character up to that point.

But after that I can't finish it and I wasted two days listening to this.

So another one bites the dust.

One more thing. I saw that Renee Ahdieh rated it five stars I'm like " You wrote a better romance and fade into black scene than that with Wrath and the Dawn!" smh

Profile Image for High Lady of The Night Court.
135 reviews5,054 followers
December 19, 2018
A dark,musical, and twisted love story filled with confusion, hatred, and dread.

The second I read the first page I knew there was no backing out of this story. I knew I would start and finish it with no interruption.

The moment you start this book, I still can't comprehend how, the story pulls you in like wines wrapping themselves around you and pulling you in. The entire book has this air of mystery surrounding it even if we know what's happening so it constantly keeps you wanting to read more. After I got past the first 3 chapters, I hardly noticed how much time has passed and all of a sudden I was done with the book.

We follow Elisabeth as she discovers that the stories her delusional grandmother fixates about are quite real and that she should have heeded her warning. Elisabeth finds out that the Goblin King is real, and now he has taken her sister to the Underworld in order to make her his next queen. Instead, Elisabeth bargains for her sisters freedom and in exchange, agrees to marry him. As she navigates this world of eternal winter, she appeals to another side of the Goblin King and realizes that he is not just the wild, Lord of Mischief he pretends to be.

Elisabeth is definitely not one of my favorite protagonists. Whenever she talks about her sister in the beginning of the book, it feels like a part of her is constantly insulting her sister but a part of her remains jealous of her. She is envious of her brother's talents and makes a point of saying she is nothing compared to him, which gets annoying after some time. Her relationship with the goblin king is most definitely not what you would call an ideal romance and a lot of her time in the underworld is miserable.

After that you would think I didn't like the book, but I did enjoy it. It was interesting to see how the story would continue and what would happen to the characters. The world was definitely very unique as I don't usually see many perspectives on the 'goblin king' and a lot of my questions do remain unanswered but I look forward to seeing what is revealed in the next and final installment of this duology. This book gets a 4 from me.
Profile Image for Always Pouting.
568 reviews715 followers
May 29, 2018
Liesl has always been a responsible older sister, looking after her younger sister Kathe and sacrificing her own dreams for her brother Josef. Lisel will never be beautiful like Kathe is and her music will forever live in the shadow of Josef's virtuoso abilities. Though she longs to give into her own desires, she forces herself to be self sacrificing. Then strange things begin to happen and Kathe disappears and no one but Liesl remembers she even exists. Though her grandma always told them stories about goblins, Liesl never believed in them, even with the uncanny childhood memories of playing the wood with a small boy that she can't explain. Kathe's disappearance brings the truth to light as Liesl must journey to the underworld and save her sister, eventually sacrificing herself to the Goblin King in her sister's place.

Like a lot of people I really enjoyed the beginning of the book but I think that by the second half the pacing got a little slow. The writing was really good but that doesn't help when it starts to feel like the plot is dragging. Especially when Liesl keep ruminating over how plain she is, which really wouldn't have bothered me if the story moved faster. I think some parts could have been done without in the book like . I understand that the author was trying to build up the relationship between Liesl and the Goblin King but the both were brooding too much and I would rather kept moving forward with things. Also I found the ending sort of unsatisfying though I'm not sure what I would have preferred happen. All in all it was really well written and I enjoyed it but I wish the pacing was better and there was less repetition about certain things like Liesl's insecurities. I really loved the underlying burning desire that Liesl was trying to suppress and the way it's brought out in her, that was really well done I could almost feel it myself.
Profile Image for Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin.
3,461 reviews9,617 followers
May 13, 2017
Unfortunately, this book wasn't for me.

Almost half the book in the beginning was wonderful. I just knew I was going to love this story. But after that it just fell flat for me, which makes me angry but what can you do?

I love the name of the book, I love the book cover and I love the idea. I wish I could tell you exactly what it was that went wrong for me but I can't.

I'm happy to know that more than half my friends on goodreads enjoyed the book, some didn't, but I was hoping after their rave reviews that I would love it too.

Uggg, I should never get too excited!

Anyway, I hope many of you out there really love the book =)
Profile Image for Roshani Chokshi.
Author 44 books10.1k followers
December 14, 2015
This was Labyrinth by way of Angela Carter, and I think my soul has been aching for a book like WINTERSONG for the last decade. Deliciously romantic with a nuanced Goblin King figure (fancast: Tom Hiddleston) and a strong heroine, this story was rife with fairytales and music and enchantment. It's also more than a little sexy. No complaints here.
Profile Image for Anika.
163 reviews121 followers
July 10, 2018
Dude. Duuuuuuuude. This. Book. Messed me uuuup.

It was slow to start for me. I thought I wasn’t going to like it very much but then sweet Elisabeth went underground AND HUNG OUT WITH THE GOBLIN KING. I was hooked from the moment she went underground. So hooked that I just read over half of this book in one day. I just couldn’t put it down!!

I loved Elisabeth as a main character. Her whole life she has been told she’s not good enough, not pretty enough, just not enough. She found herself in the underground and started believing she was beautiful on the inside, and that’s what makes her a beautiful person.

The Goblin King. CAN WE JUST TAKE A MOMENT???? He was such a well written love interest. The way he treated Elisabeth was too much for me to handle sometimes because GOALS.

Josef🖤🖤🖤 Josef was a blessing. I, too have a little brother that is half of my soul and boi did I relate to their relationship!! I really liked him and his love interest as well.


One thing I do want to mention, there’s loads about music in here. I ate. it. up. I was in band and choir growing up, so I understood the technical lingo that was used, but other people may not. It’s really a big chunk of the book, so if you’re not into music, or don’t really know how writing/reading music works, you may not like this book very much.

ALSO. There are some steamy bits FOR SURE. They aren’t as graphic as ACOMAF or anything, but they are very present.


Profile Image for ♛ may.
806 reviews3,793 followers
May 30, 2017

This is a story about a brave maiden. This is a story of a tragedy. This is a story about the power of love. This is a story about the compassion and love and sacrifice between siblings. This is a story about selfishness and selflessness. This is the story of the greatest sacrifice. This is a story about life.

“Beware the goblin men and the wares they sell.”

This book is magical. The writing is exquisite. The world is so encompassing and real. The characters are flawed and selfish and selfless and strong, so so strong.

There’s so much passion and love and fire and emotion. The book winds you up in its magic and takes you on this rollercoaster that you can’t get off even if you wanted to ((which let’s be real, you don’t want to))

I am absolutely enchanted. I am absolutely shattered and heartbroken and mourning.

Someone help me this book has exceeded my highest expectations and ended on a note that I cannot bear.


Okay, I have no more words beyond that I’m going to go sob for a while and get dehydrated over it. That’s how good it is. I’m legit out of words.

“She was the sun and he was the earth waking from a thaw.”

5 stars!!


Buddy read with Jianamin
Profile Image for Marquise.
1,709 reviews394 followers
September 29, 2022
What an interesting concept to retell "Goblin Market" with elements of "Labyrinth" and Beauty & Beast, but what subpar execution! A whiny heroine, a Goblin King that is a Christian (!!! first God-fearing goblin I've found), and unlikable characters all around. I couldn't be more disappointed at the wasted opportunity, and even more so because the plot of this book had Wolfgang vs Nannerl vibes that were thrillingly promising for me (the genius Mozart siblings, in case you don't know, where the boy achieved fame and immortality over his equally talented sister).

I visited a travelling exhibition about Nannerl Mozart as a child once, and was fascinated by her story. I even memorised her interminable name at my young age, which I was quite proud of (Just try to say out loud Maria Anna Walburga Ignatia Mozart Reichsfreiin von Berchtold zu Sonnenburg without losing your breath, I dare you!), to the amusement of all adults. But I'd never sought any novels about her or her brother, and I'd not have imagined her story could serve as inspiration for a retelling of one of my favourite fairy tales. How exciting when I realised this was it! Just imagine that: Goblin Market + B&B + Classical Music Female Composer = Glorious Story.


It'll have to be a painful nein from me, folks. Liesl here is a prat, Sepperl is a prat, her sister is a prat, her father is a prat, her mother is a prat, everyone is a prat!
Profile Image for the burning dreamer..
266 reviews548 followers
Shelved as 'someday-maybe'
November 7, 2016
Set in a fantasy realm? Check.
Ever-so-enigmatic male lead? Check.
Teenage girl bethroted to said enigma? Check.
The two hopelessly fall in love? Check.
An obstacle that they will almost CERTAINLY overcome? Check.

...now where have I read that one before?

Profile Image for Alyssa.
1,069 reviews838 followers
February 7, 2017
3.5 stars. Not sure if I want to round up, or down.

Is it bad that I'm kind of disappointed? That ending was awful. (Cruel, not poorly written.)

***Review posted on The Eater of Books! blog***

Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Publication Date: February 7, 2017
Rating: 3 stars
Source: eARC from NetGalley

Summary (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.

What I Liked:

I know what you might be thinking: how did she not love this book to pieces? Why doesn't it say "5 stars", or at least "4 stars"? Believe me, I'm probably as surprised as you are. I fully expected to absolutely adore this book and gush about it after reading it. I expected to fall in love with a mesmerizing, seductive story; I didn't fall in love with the story, and (to me) it wasn't mesmerizing and seductive.

Liesl (short for Elisabeth) is the oldest of three children. She is the plainest child, the one most often forgotten. Her sister Kathe is beautiful, curvy, and flirtatious. Her brother Josef is a musical prodigy, playing the violin like no other. Liesl herself is a genius composer, but only Josef knows about the music in her soul. And it's a music that the Goblin King wants. No one believes in the Goblin King, save Liesl's grandmother... and Liesl herself. When she was a little girl, she used to be friends with him. Now she is older and no longer believes in her childhood fantasies. But when her sister is taken by the Goblin King, Liesl immediately strikes a bargain with him to get her out. In exchange for her sister's life, Liesl will marry the Goblin King and live in the Underground. She is no longer alive to the above world, and her family will soon forget she existed. In the Underground, Liesl is captivated by the Goblin King, whom she is slowly remembering that she has known him her entire life. As they grow closer, Liesl finds herself creating more music, and developing strong feelings for him. But nothing lasts forever, and a price must be paid. There are consequences for every action, and Liesl must decide what to sacrifice once and for all.

There are plenty of reasons to love this book, plenty of reasons why I understand the hype. For one, the writing is so beautiful. The author has a great writing style, and I love how wonderful the writing of this story was. Everything flowed idyllically, with a lull. The author has a talent for writing, and it shows, in her debut novel.

I'm not really familiar with the fairy tale on which the author based this story, or Labyrinth. However, I can tell that this is a retelling of a fairy tale. The story in general is so interesting. It has a Hades and Persephone feel to it (but more romantic, sort of). The world-building is well-written; I was expecting a lot of fantastical elements, and goblins of course, and there is a lot of all of that. Goblins, changelings, magic, twisted words, bargains... this story has it all.

Liesl goes through quite a transformation, in this book. Part of why she was willing to go down in the Underground with the Goblin King was because she wanted to be loved and wanted, for the first time in her life. She once believed she was plain and unr markable; by the end of the book, she has more self-worth, and she thinks more of herself. She is so selfless throughout the book, and by the end, she still has that soft heart, but she is also a stronger woman.

The Goblin King - I almost wish we could have read from his perspective. He is an enigma and a puzzle, and we slowly learn about him as the story goes on. I liked him, but I wasn't entranced by him (like many other readers were). I can understand the fascination with him, but he didn't come across as anyone special (more on this in the next section). I did like him though.

The romance is hot and cold. Liesl and the Goblin King clash and burn and simmer. They push and pull, and so there are scenes in which there is some serious heat, and then there are scenes in which they don't even want to look at each other. This book has content that is definitely "mature" and not for younger teens.

I'll talk about the ending in the next section. Overall though, I get the hype. Really, I do. And I think this is a well-written fantasy story with a great pairing and a sweeping tale. But maybe it was just me - I didn't fall in love with the story.

What I Did Not Like:

Maybe the book was over-hyped for me? I felt a little disappointed, even as I was reading. I was waiting for that OMG-THIS-IS-SO-GOOD moment, in which I knew I would be gushing for days about the book. I still haven't quite hit that point.

My irritation started with the beginning of the story - I hated Kathe. She's beautiful, selfish, and so, so spoiled. She only thinks of herself (though we see, as the story goes on, that that is not quite true). She is shallow and I honestly felt bad for Liesl for having to deal with her. But Liesl is a selfless sister, as sisters are.

I think I'm most disappointed in the romance - I wasn't all that convinced and sucked into the romance. Don't get me wrong, I shipped Liesl and the Goblin King. I can see why people think the romance is seductive and sensual. But I was... unimpressed? Maybe I was expecting more when people were like "oh the romance is so gritty and dark and sexy". It wasn't? The story takes a darker turn after the halfway point, and I suppose this book is a little sexier than any given Young Adult novel, but I didn't think it was particularly sexy.

Maybe it's because I have read so many adult romance novels and I know what a sexy romance in a story really is? How sexy seduction can actually be, in a fictional story? I'm not sure. But the romance was underwhelming in terms of the chemistry. Don't get me wrong! It's still a fairly sensual romance and there are a few hot scenes between Liesl and the Goblin King! I personally was unimpressed though.

All of their hot and cold was a little annoying too, to be honest. I didn't really understand their physical relationship either. At one point, it was like Liesl wanted the Goblin King to have sex with her to "fix" her. Is sex something that "fixes" people? Maybe it is, but in this book, it seemed so weird that sex was what unlocked Liesl's music. That seemed nonsensical. But hey, maybe I'm missing something that was part of the original story or fairy tale.

In terms of the Goblin King himself - he seemed somewhat one-dimensional. I understand that the story is all about Liesl's transformation, but I couldn't get a good enough sense of the Goblin King. We learn about him so, so slowly, and most of the time, it's like he's a piece of meat to Liesl, or something like that. He's the most interesting character of the book, but I feel like he is reduced to his height and his smiles.

Also, is it me or did the plot kind of meander? I couldn't really get a sense of where the story was going, after a point. So Liesl makes the deal with the Goblin King and she is now in the Underground and married to him. Okay? What's next - how they fall in love and ride off into the sunset? There was no "larger" plot at hand. You'd think there would be some impending doom, like the world ending, or the laws of the magical world being broken, or goblins escaping into the above world. But nope, the rising action and the climax are incredibly underwhelming. Where was the story going? I'm not sure.

So maybe the pacing was off, for me? Because it felt like the story meandered and went nowhere, and then BAM! Liesl has a choice to make, in the last 5% of the book (or thereabout). The climax occurs in the last 5% or so, which makes no sense. The ending was a slap in the fast, in terms of how it just showed up, with little explanation or execution.

The ending! The ending is so anticlimactic, underwhelming, and horrible! Horrible meaning cruel, though I saw it coming. What was the point? What was the point of the entire story? WHY was that allowed? What are the consequences? It happened in the past - how? Why? What came after? I had so many questions after I read the end of the book. The end literally makes no sense, and we get no explanation as to why it was allowed, what the consequences were, what the "aftermath"was.

Not to mention that the ending is so cruel and not a HEA. Every book doesn't have to end in sunshine and rainbows but... with a romance like this one? Color me disappointed that this book didn't end differently. There are so many ways the author could have ended this book. She choose the easy, predictable, and cruel way.

Unfortunately this book has left me with a feeling of dissatisfaction.

Would I Recommend It:

It's hard for me not to recommend this book, because it is a beautifully written, well-crafted story. And so many people have loved it. But I was unimpressed. I can appreciate the author's writing and the story and what she was going for, but the execution fell a little flat for me. However, I think anyone who was looking forward to reading this book should give it a chance. It could be me and my mood - or it could be the fact that I've read so many beautifully written, sexy romance novels that are the definition of "seductive" and "sensual". Then again, this book was underwhelming and not just in terms of the romance/chemistry, for me.


3.5 stars -> rounded down to 3 stars. I hate to rate this book so low - though admittedly, 3 stars isn't super low. I so thought this book would be perfect for me - fantasy, fairy tale retelling, delicious romance. I was a little disappointed, but I'm most likely in the black sheep camp. I see the author is writing a companion novel - honestly, if the story doesn't feature Liesl and the Goblin King in some (happy) capacity, then I'm not sure I'm interested in the companion novel. I really don't want to read about Kathe. Josef, maybe? Really, I want more Liesl and the Goblin King.

**EDIT: I've learned that the sequel is a continuation one (and not a companion one). Yay! This doesn't change my rating, but it makes me feel better about the story, and I will definitely be reading the sequel.
Profile Image for Simona B.
892 reviews2,985 followers
March 10, 2017
"What's the use of running, if we are on the wrong road?"

First notes. They are enchanting. Haunting. Alluring- no, no, what are you saying? It's something else. They are the enchantment. They are the ghost and the obsession. They are the allure.
The difference is slight, almost indiscernible -one could say it exist only if you will it into existence- but it's there. And since it's there, since these notes don't make you feel, but are the feel, the space between them is filled with promise. The staff is bursting with it, full to the brim, the spaces insufficient, the lines painfully bulging.
Paradoxically, they should explode. For the song to fulfill its crescendo, they should explode. Dissolve in the river gushing from within them.
They never do.

The boy you've been crushing on for so many months you forgot how it is not to adore him, on a lucky and maybe a little tipsy night finally kisses you. He gently backs you in a corner and even more gently kisses you. You are stunned blissful, overjoyed, and you wait for the shock to wear off so you can properly enjoy the moment. You wait and wait and wait, and the shock does wear off. And you wait and wait and wait. Something is still missing, but you are faithful. You can't have waited all that time for such a plain thing. And so you wait and wait and wait. It must come. It's just here around the corner. It must be so.
But it isn't, and the magic never comes.

The next metaphor is far less pretty, but we are not striving for prettiness.

Or are we?

Do you know when your nose prickles, and your eyes start to water a little, and the muscle in you upper lip twitch just the littlest bit? Of course you know. And you know what it means. it means, trivially put, that you need to sneeze. I am also sure you know how unpleasant and irksome it is when the sneeze doesn't actually come.
I feel as if I just had to sneeze, and couldn't.

Wintersong (rightfully) has the pretension of bringing you into a magical world without trotting out impossible tasks or adventurous journeys. Since I am not much of a lover of plot-driven books, this is, to me, a real asset. The book hasn't got any plot twist worth the name, and I always appreciate not only this fact in itself, but the audacity it takes for an author to bet on a plot of this kind and stake their hopes on it. The novel, however, presents unmistakable pace issues that, sadly, blemish its faultless façade. For one thing, the first part, concerning , drags out much too long, considering that it isn't even the point. The middle part is absolutely dull (I wonder if that counts as an oxymoron?) and grey and uninteresting. The chapter leading up to the grand finale grandly fail to build up the climax. Things happen without a reason or a later reference or meaning, as if they were meant simply to fill up some dozens of pages. Instead of neatly rearranging itself in a ball, the thread of this story unfolds and unfolds meaninglessly, aimlessly, heading nowhere in such a blatant state of confusion I could not, for the life of me, turn a blind eye on it. The rhythm was off; the song did not catch my ear.

More folklore would have definitely spiced things up. Have you ever seen After Earth, the movie? When I'm asked what I think about it, my usual answer is that even though it is set on a post-apocalyptic Earth, it might as well have been set on another planet, and that did not make sense to me. Here is the same: readers, meet the goblin people. They're nasty, they're mischievous, they're absolutely similar to any other sprite you can think of. Some of them are kind of kind. And there are changelings too: . Think that is cool? Want to go deeper into that? Forget it. Because apparently, the romance was more important than some proper world-building.

•Yes, the romance. I unfortunately did not feel it. I understood the development of their relationship on a rational level, but it did not, not even in the slightest, touch me. I tend to blame it on the partial lack of characterization -and I know I have to provide further information on that "partial".
The book generally exceeds in tell and lacks in show. Throughout all the first part of the novel, we're told, repeatedly, how Liesl feels miserable, unwanted, neglected, but we're not told why, or rather, we are not shown. Later in the book we are, through (hardly, honestly; but at least we had those) a couple of instances, but it felt like too late. First, you've got to wonder what's gotten into her for about two-hundred pages. Not pretty. Moreover, she comes off as a monotonous and unvarying, in spite of the fact that her change, her growth, is supposed to be the main point of the book. Again, not pretty. I hoped she would become more tolerable as soon as she grew tired of play victim, but although the change really was noticeable in some ways, it did nothing to allow me to connect with her.

•Not even the Goblin King fully convinced me, but there's a thing about his character that I absolutely loved and that, in my opinion, wasn't fully developed and exploited by the author: the Goblin King, at first, undeniably acts out of selfishness and spite. And not because he wants her to bloom; only because he wants to indulge his caprice. Such malice is so unusual in ya books, I couldn't help but adoring it, and I am a little bewildered S. Jae-Jones didn't play on it more, because it really looks like a winning point to me. Besides, it makes the character development stand out even more, because at last . To me, this was the point of the Goblin King's character and the most beautiful and poignant thing about him, but it kind of got lost among many other less striking things, who knows how.
On the other hand, since, as I already said, the timing and the writing of the book don't really do their job, his background (and its revelation too) left me completely indifferent. And, sorry if I repeat myself, the problem lied not in the contents, but in the form.

The ending is the strangest and most curious and most surprising thing the novel, in general, has to offer. It is neither happy nor sad, but a perfect middle ground. It is the ending that finally, actually shows Liesl's full potential as a heroine, because that's what Liesl is in this ending, a heroine. She is confused (in the sense that her character seems to be clueless as to where its narrative purpose lies) and ineffective throughout the whole book, but now and here is where she finds herself. Loved loved loved it.

•But since this is no candy land, of course the ending too must cross me somehow.
The word that automatically pops to my mind is convenient. I really can't stand when authors do that, bending the rules they set themselves so the story can flow on undisturbed. If you don't want to or can't stick to those rules, change them, switch them with new ones, and if you need exceptions, arrange for the exceptions to be rules in the first place. What's the fun part of creating, if not this?

•All the other characters were too poorly shaped for me to really form an opinion about any of them -which speaks volumes. Basically, Wintersong features only three characters, the third being made one half from Käthe and the other from Josef.

•I'll puke my guts out if I hear again the phrase "music in [whoever's] soul".

➽ If I could talk music, I would probably find the right terms to wittily sum this up talking about clefs and moods throwing around random Italian words (and believe me, that I can do), but I don't talk music, not at those levels. So I'll put it simply: although the potential was all there, the execution wasn't satisfying to me. It felt hollow and unsure; very heartfelt indeed, and passionate, but paradoxically I could only take it in with my mind, my heart untouched, and, as if that were not enough, my mind as well found a thing or two to say. What I am profoundly grateful for is that ending: that alone is surely worth the whole book, which, I hope, will prove to be nothing like any other ya you've read before. If that's a good or a bad thing, it's up to you decide. But if you ask me, I most certainly believe the former is the one.
Profile Image for Jiana.
296 reviews817 followers
June 6, 2017
Buddy read with Maymin

Wintersong is a beautiful book. Beautiful, dark, mysterious, and captivating. It is a book that deals with a wide range of themes: Love, pain, selflessness, selfishness, sacrifice, family, music, strength, insecurity, and confidence.

Wintersong is apparently a retelling of the movie Labyrinth. I have never watched Labyrinth, so I had no idea what to expect. However, I was told it resembled the book Caraval, a 2017 favorite of mine. The first half definitely resembled it and I think both Caraval and Wintersong were executed wonderfully.

I was quite worried picking up this book due to the mixed reviews. I didn't want to be disappointed, and I had high hopes I'd love it. I'm so glad I wasn't disappointed. However, I'm sad I didn't love this book as much as I'd hoped. It had its ups and downs. But I did love it.

S. Jae-Jones is a brilliant author. Her writing is absolutely magnificent. I was so positively overwhelmed by it. It was captivating and so beautiful and magical. Honestly, wow. Just wow. Her creativity, her imagination, her wonderfully flawed characters... all of it was just great.

“Your music," he said at last. "Your music was the only thing that kept me sane, that kept me human instead of a monster.”

Wintersong is basically split into two halves: the first half is similar to Caraval (the Goblin King takes Liesl's sister and she has to play the Goblin King's game in order to get her sister back. The second half deals with Liesl's emotional well being and how she deals with the aftermath, which was done excellently. However, during the second half is where I think the book started going a tad downhill for me. Yes, things are revealed, yet there's a lot of questions unanswered (obviously for the sequel). Something was missing, something was lacking. Some of the events and aspects weren't properly explained. Stories were thrown into the plot here and there and I still couldn't connect some of their relevance to the actual plot.

We also see character development in Liesl. She goes from a selfless, self-sacrificing young girl to someone putting herself first. As for the Goblin King, I really liked the mysterious aura surrounding him. He's still an enigma and there's more unanswered questions about him than answered. I'm quite excited to find out more in the sequel. Finally, I enjoyed the romance between Liesl and the Goblin King. There was chemistry and I was so invested. They're great together! Yet, I was told the ending is painful and tear-inducing. Was it? Not really. I felt... neutral. I don't know why. It was sad no doubt, but it just didn't bring tears to my eyes.

Wintersong is a beautiful novel filled with emotion and magic. Despite how it lacked in a few areas, I still think it's marvelous and I absolutely can't wait for the sequel!
Profile Image for Nastassja.
423 reviews987 followers
March 16, 2019

Wild, untamed, dark, painful, sensual.

This is a coming-of-age story of a simple plain girl on the outside, but with the fire burning inside her: slow and shimmering and waiting for a little breath to fan it to life.

This is how the author S. Jae-Jones aka JJ describes it:

The story of a young woman who goes Underground to save her sister, only to find herself instead.

In a long time, I haven't read a story as sensual as this one, filled with dark allure, death, desire, fear; a story that at the same time makes you want to absorb every word of it and reject it. My mind understood that it was a dangerous illusion, and no sane person would let themselves be dragged into it, but as the heroine Liesl, I couldn't resist the temptation.

This story takes power from dark forbidden parts of our soul, the ones, no one but us know about.

From the start, it was an adult story that slowly turned into a YA story, but in spite of the lack of explicit sex scenes, this book is filled with sensuality to the brim, and such forthright approach is not often met in YA these days. Beautifully written and poignant, they make your heart flutter and hurt at the same time. I can't post any of the quotes before the release date, but, oh boy, they are so beautiful. And after the book's release, the author will publish her original adult version. You can subscribe here to receive the bonus.

Original inspiration of the Wintersong came to JJ from different sources. The most important inspirations were The Labyrinth movie, as many of you already know that; Phantom of the Opera and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. And, of course, you'll see the classical Beauty and the Beast story here too. Everything is subtly mingled and intertwined, but if you are a fan of one or another inspiration from the list above, you'll definitely find scenes and things that the author took from those sources as inspiration.

Music has one of the central places in the story. Every line is saturated with it. Music's in every syllable, every glance and touch. Combined with ethereally beautiful writing and mysterious Underworld, it creates an almost surreal feeling. You never know what's going to happen next, whether it's your imagination or a true vision. The Goblin Kingdom is a mysterious place; one you are eager to solve and, at the same time, escape from. The claustrophobic feeling of being underground, with multiple tunnels and labyrinths, let alone, strange creatures roaming this place and wanting to tear a piece of your flesh. These creatures are vicious, and if you sip a little of their enchanted wine, you'll become a wild creature along with them, dancing, kissing, grabbing for skin, thighs, blood and biting in abandon - a true wild gathering of the Underworld. It's a dark fairytale, the one parents do not tell their kids before sleep, because sex and fear guide this tale.

Of course, the main reason why I'd recommend this book is the Goblin King. He is one of the most complex anti-heroes I've met. He is too beautiful and too terrible, at the same time. You feel his sexual allure, but you also feel the danger that comes from him. If you think he's another "bark but not bite" type of character, reconsider: he has no mercy on Liesl and her fears; he tests her limits and draws blood. It's not an abusive kind of relationship, but a more dangerous one: a mind-play in which a victim goes willingly to her doom . There are many sides to the Goblin King: capricious, contradictory, childish, intimidating, vulnerable, romantic, scholar, martyr, petty. And all these faces are fleshed out perfectly. I still don't know whether I love or hate his character. As for his appearance, I'd say he resembles David Bowie in Labyrinth, but not much. He has elfin features and, at the same time, he's masculine and feminine. He's tall and pale, with unruly hair, pointy teeth (one thing that my brain couldn't accept) and no makeup, thank god. I don't know how'd I feel if he wore lipstick or eye-shadow. It's not how I imagine my romantic heroes, especially the 80s style known for its excessive use of cosmetics, makes me cringe a little.

Above I've mentioned that this is also a coming-of-age story. Liesl goes from naive and self-conscious to confident. We hear and see everything from her 1-st POV, and there's a big accent on her feelings and senses. We feel the story through her. But Liesl is not a perfect narrator. I liked her, but I didn't love her. There were moments of admiration from my side, but often I found her too angry, too spiteful, too selfish. Liesl has a brother and a sister and they play a significant part in the story. I have a brother, and I know sibling's rivalry and grievance and jealousy - the ugly feelings alone with the tender ones. But sometimes Liesl's behavior toward her siblings invoked in me ugly feelings more often than the tender ones. Sometimes she acted like a spiteful brat toward them with malice and hatred, and it felt somehow wrong. It's hard to explain as we feel it more than see in the book. But, nevertheless, this is a story about love for your family that helps you to overcome obstacles in order to come back to them.

The ending. The story either ends with a cliffhanger or has an open ending - I am not sure. But it was somehow underwhelming, though, reasonable, if I am being honest with myself. But I fell too far and too deep to want reasonable; I want dark and alluring. So, I am waiting and dying to read a companion novel, which hopefully will answer the lingering questions.

All in all, Wintersong is a beautiful piece of art, but it might not play in sync with everyone's strings. As a test, let's say if you read The Star-Touched Queen with its poetic writing and blurred lines of reality - you might find Wintersong compelling as much as its college. If such types of stories are not to your liking, I'd still suggest trying (I loved it, I can't not suggest it), but keep your expectations low in case it'd disappoint you. But maybe for once you need to let temptation in and let this story test your limits.

Profile Image for Natalie Monroe.
592 reviews3,540 followers
May 19, 2017
"Now the days of winter begin, and the Goblin King rides abroad, searching for his bride."

Two things were popular during the Paranormal Romance wave of the early 2010s: Fey and the Greek myth of Hades and Persephone. They were part of the flood of beautiful, extraordinary men and the semi-abusive relationships they had with the heroine.

Wintersong belongs in that era.

"I could hurt you," the Goblin King said, and I felt that promise in his hands. My lifeblood in his grip, my throat bared to him in submission."

Dangerous men are over and done. Dangerous men who are secretly cinnamon rolls are buried so deep in the pop culture archive, we need to send Rick Roll armed with stolen breadsticks after them. The Goblin King is supposed to be this ancient, immortal force of pure nature, but he acts like a teenage boy. He blushes constantly and gets all flustered when Liesel storms half-naked into his room.

Liesel is this plain, self-sacrificing relic of a heroine that belongs with the Goblin King in the two-for-one bargain bin. Her sister is, of course, beautiful and flirty and empty-headed. But because she's a good girl, she'll sacrifice her ambition for her family until, ironically, she gains freedom through her marriage to the Goblin King.

I have serious beef with how the romance functions within Liesel's personal character arc. It's portrayed as this self-defining thing; without it, she's just boring old Liesel. Her life is mentally mapped out as Before and After the Goblin King. Being with him makes her a woman, someone to be respected. He's the one who convinces her she deserves more than that provincial life, which places her self-worth dangerously deep in his debt.

And there's the ridiculous "my monster" thing again. Oh, my Goblin King wouldn't do that. This cruel cold stranger is someone else, the twin brother he absorbed in womb perhaps.

No circa 2010 novel is complete without subtle girl shade either:

"Because a man could spend a age--and believe me, I have--with an endless line of beautiful brides, their names and faces blurring before him. Because you--queer, unlovely you--I would remember."

The plot, like I mentioned, is a romanticized version of Hades and Persephone. Liesel is imprisoned underground after making a bargain with the Goblin King and dresses in pretty gowns while bonding with her beautiful, immortal husband.

Her original quest was hunting down her sister Kathe, who had been seduced underground, but after Liesel finds her at an enchanted party, she decides to get sloppy drunk instead of making plans or breaking out. That doesn't have much of an impact on the plot, but I just wanted to let you know exactly what kind of protagonist you'll be getting in Wintersong.

All this stuff masked the good parts, like Liesel's love for Kathe and her little brother Josef. The final twist was quite good and unexpected. But I wanted something different—a more original and morally grey love interest, Kathe to play a bigger part, the heroine to achieve self-worth through alternative means.

I wanted apples, but Wintersong gave me pomegranates.
Profile Image for Sophie.
28 reviews1,674 followers
March 21, 2017


I've decided on 4.5 stars for this one. I feel that it's waay too good for 4 stars, but still had some very minor little quirks that make me want to bring it down a notch.
This book was utterly fantastic.
Hauntingly beautiful, lyrical, dark and powerful.

I am going to refrain from getting into too many of the details, as I am saving that for my upcoming video review. However, just know that this one was very special. It was such an unexpected treat, and I really love and appreciate when I stumble upon unique fantasy reads such as this one.

My only problem now is that I am still stuck in this world! My heart literally hurts from that ending, and I think the only cure is to immediately dive into another fantasy! Does anyone have some recommendations for fantasy reads that are sort of similar to this one? I've literally just been sitting here for the past hour, staring at the wall, in a massive reading slump!!!

I'm going to go on a hunt for a fantasy! Thank-you in advance for any recommendations :)
Profile Image for Tatiana.
1,401 reviews11.7k followers
Shelved as 'dnf'
February 28, 2017
This reads a lot like wish fulfillment fanfiction.

Besides its well-recycled plot, the novel lacks texture, nuance, depth - things that I notice both young and fanfic writers struggle to accomplish in their works.

You should read Laini Taylor's Lips Touch: Three Times for a far more superior "Goblin Market" interpretation.
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