Review of Wintersong by S Jae- Jones

WIntersongCoverWintersong
By: S Jae-Jones
Release Date: February 7th 2017
Publisher: Thomas Dunne
Format: E-ARC
Source: Publisher

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

My Rating:
star

Summary:
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.

My Thoughts:
The moment I learned about Wintersong I was desperate to read it. I have been a fan of the movie Labyrinth since I was a whee child and have wished for a retelling or something set in the world with the Goblin King. I felt that with Wintersong my dreams and wish had been granted. This shows the really high expectations I had going into this book. I tried to lower them and keep myself grounded but I’ve gotta admit I expected the very best.

I found the writing to be really magical in this book and though I felt a bit confused at times about the world I was drawn into the story easily. I did find Liesl a difficult character to connect to because she wasn’t a very nice person- she let her insecurities and jealousy direct her behavior. I felt that Liesl was really a lot of the ugliest within each of us. She was jealous of her sister’s beauty and the attention she got because of it. She was jealous of her brother’s musical talent as well as the affection and support her father gave him. I could undertstand these feelings she had because we all feel these things. I felt that Liesl struggling so much with these emotions possibly she’d have intense character growth as the story progressed.

This novel has two sections really- the before and the Underground. The before focused on Liesl’s sister’s abduction and what she will do to retrieve her sister from the hands of the Goblin King. Though Liesl feels intense jealousy at times for her younger sister she also feels love for her and wants to help bring her back. I felt this section of the book was sort of rushed and I honestly think the two sections of the book could have easily been broken into two books allowing for more time on character and world development.

The second section of the novel focused on Liesl’s time in the Underworld, her relationship with the Goblin King and her search to compose the music that almost haunts her. The Goblin King was a character with great potential though I always wanted a bit more from him. I pictured my childhood favorite, David Bowie’s Jareth, in the role. I think this had to do more with my own dedication to inserting him into the book rather than his character really being much like the Goblin King from the movie.

To help that along the author chose to include several lines from the movie and with his description I had no trouble picturing him. I will say though that the comparisons for me were face value. Past the quotes and the image the essence of this Goblin King was much different than Jareth from Labyrinth. He never seemed as cruel as the movie version. We get to see some of his past and his love for music. This humanized him for me and took him from the role of a bad guy (in the movie) and placed him solely as a love interest in the novel for me. I never really saw him as evil or dislikeable.

I went into this book expecting it to be very heavy on the romance and that was an important aspect of the story line but I felt more centered on Liesl’s music and her need to express herself through it. Many paragraphs were dedicated to this and it was a really huge part of the story (hence the ‘song’ part in the title).

I’d say my biggest complaint was that I had many questions that just weren’t answered fully enough for me. I believe there will be a companion novel but I’m not sure and this distresses me some. I think I’d have been happier had this story been broken into two books which would have allowed for a deeper look at the world and more time to create more connection between the Goblin King and Liesl. Though they shared many scenes together I felt it was missing that chemistry I so desired. WintersongBookstagram
Final Thoughts:
Try to hold off on putting your own ideals on what Wintersong is. Detach it from the labyrinth comparison if you are a huge fan such as myself. Try to take this book for what it is rather than the void you’d like it to fill.

My Newest Obsession- Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones + INT Giveaway

If you follow me on Twitter you would have seen me screaming to the void about Wintersong and how desperately I want to read it. This book is inspired in part by Labyrinth- which was childhood favorite movie. I’ve spent years obsessed over The Goblin King and yearning for someone to take his character and delve deeper. My dreams have been answered and JJ has written a book I know I’ll love.

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About the Book

BWIntersongCovereware 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.

Coming February 7th 2017 by Thomas Dunne

This past week Griffin Teen graciously sent me the first 40 or so pages of the book to give me very much appreciated look at what I was looking forward to. To say I dropped everything to read would not be an exaggeration.

I have been waiting to get a feel for the atmosphere of the book and characters and this teaser was perfect to do just that. I immediately got swept away in the story and the visuals were PERFECT. As I read further, each page, inspired dread because I knew it would end and I’d be made to wait so long to read more. Some pain though is worth it, wouldn’t you agree?

WintersongBookstagram

The novel begins with a beautifully written overture about a boy and girl singing and dancing in the woods. The little girl never knows who the boy is but he asks her to marry him and plays games with her. This is such an excellent beginning and though not long it sets the story up and is so very vivid. I could feel the woods, I don’t know if it was supposed to, but it made me think of cool days and being chilled in the shadow of trees.

Chapter 1 introduces us to the main character and her sister. In only a few short chapters you get a very clear idea of these sisters personalities and how they interact with one another. I felt it was beautifully executed. Both sisters have fault and seem highly realistic in their passions and insecurities. Once the tall stranger enters the story I couldn’t help but picture David Bowie’s version of the Goblin King. Even if you aren’t a fan of Labyrinth JJ’s descriptions and the book’s atmosphere will have you visualizing the setting and characters.

I really could go on and on about these 44 pages I’ve just read but I think you get the idea. This book is beautifully written and after just a short teaser I am INVESTED. I want to know what will happen next. I am attached to the characters-though they are not perfect in the slightest (this honestly makes me even more attached to them).

Have you added this book to your to be read list? If not you SHOULD. Here it is on Goodreads. Also, you MUST check out the author’s website and sign up for her newsletter. Both are full of exclusive content you will want to see.

Giveaway

I’m giving away a pre-order of one Wintersong hardcover. This is international if Book Depository ships to your location.

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Meet the Newbies- S. Jae-Jones Author of Wintersong

Meet the Newbies

Meet the Newbies is hosted by Rachel from A Perfection Called Books and is a way to get to know the latest debut authors and get a glimpse of their books. Check out all the authors and blog on the tour here.

From the moment I heard about Wintersong my heart skipped a beat and I knew I must, MUST, read this book as soon as humanely possible. It pulls from so much I love (Labyrinth, David Bowie as inspiration? SOLD). Sometimes, we run across a book summary it is so ‘us’ we feel completely connected having never read a word. That’s me and this book. I was HONORED when asked if I wanted to host the author, S Jae-Jones.

Author Most Likely to do a Dance, Magic, Dance
Nickname: The Great Miss JJ
First Day of School: February 7, 2017
Homeroom: Thomas Dunne
Grade: Gothic Fairytale
Extracurricular Activities: Piano, visual arts, fencing, jumping out of perfectly good airplanes, dressing up for movie premieres, obsessing over fictional characters
Favorite Class: English
Favorite Quote/Motto: “Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter.” -Yoda, The Empire Strikes Back

About the Author

13414088S. Jae-Jones, called JJ, is a voracious and indiscriminate reader, an avid traveller, and something of an adrenaline junkie.

Born and raised in sunny Los Angeles, she lived in New York City for ten years before relocating down to Dixie, where she is comfortably growing fat on grits and barbecue. When not writing, she can be found rock-climbing, skydiving, taking photographs, drawing pictures, and dragging her dog on ridiculously long hikes.

Social Media Links: Website | Blog | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | GR

About the Book

24763621Beware 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.

Book Buy Links: Amazon | B&N | Goodreads

Interview

The most obvious question and thus I must ask it, why the Goblin King? How much of the movie Labyrinth can we expect?
Why not the Goblin King? :) To be honest, I don’t really have an answer for that, or at least not a straight one. Labyrinth obviously had a huge effect on me as a little girl (my name is Sarah, after all), but when I watch it as an adult, some of its storytelling flaws come through. Part of me wanted to fix some of the thematic dissonance and logic problems of the movie, but writing WINTERSONG wasn’t as conscious as that. I like Underworld stories, I love the trope Death and the Maiden, I love Franz Schubert’s Der Erlkoenig, I love David Bowie, glitter, and goth things and all of that came together in this book.
As for how much of the movie you can expect to find in the book, well, my editor did make me scrub out a lot of the direct references. :) (And she was right for doing so; we want the book to stand on its own, after all.) However, there are two direct homages to the movie I couldn’t bear to remove. Easter eggs for my readers! Oh, and my Goblin King has mismatched eyes. Just like David Bowie.
I’ve read that your novel was first geared to an adult crowd but has been altered for a younger audience. Can you tell us how that changed the book?
The biggest (and only) change is the editing of the sex scenes. Yes, there are sex scenes. They are still in the book. They are still on the page. (When I was drafting WINTERSONG, my joke title was 50 Shades of Labyrinth.) But YA and adult sex scenes are treated differently and my editor and I worked to edit them to make them appropriate for a teen audience. Other than that, there has been no actual substantive change. In fact, I initially queried WINTERSONG as YA, but yanno, adult content. :)
From the summary and your website I can see that Mozart has a large influence on your work. Are you a musician? What about him and his music captivate you?
I am a musician insofar as I’ve been trained in music since I was very little. I do love music of all kinds: classical, pop, rock, country, hip-hop, etc. One of my earliest memories is sitting at my family’s old Yamaha upright piano, my feet dangling off the bench, picking out how to play Yankee Doodle by ear with just the black keys. I asked my parents for piano lessons when I was three; they told me to wait until I was four. I am a musician insofar as I am someone who can play a vast array of instruments competently (many self-taught), but without any true genius. In other words, I am just musical enough to love it fiercely, but not enough to be anything but passable.
As for Mozart…why does anyone connect to a musician? Why do I love Mozart? Why do I love David Bowie or Marc Bolan or Lady Gaga or Yeezy or the Dixie Chicks? My exposure to Mozart did come at a young, impressionable age; my mother loves his work, so I grew up listening to him the way other children grow up listening to Bob Dylan. But if you were to ask me what I connect to in Mozart’s SOUND, that ineffable quality that is uniquely his, I suppose you could say his transcendence. There’s a clarity and sprightliness to his voice (even in his unfinished Requiem) that’s almost magical.
On a personal level, I find him as a historical person very interesting. He was a child prodigy who grew up to be an adult genius, only to have that genius cut tragically short at the age of 35. But I also love that he was a genius who also liked to make fart jokes and write ditties for his friends called “Lick me in the ass.” (Yes, it’s true!)
As a reader I always hope to deeply connect to one or more characters while reading- as a writer did you find yourself connecting deeper to one of your characters? If so, which and why?
This is tricky for me to answer because all my characters are in some part me. I suppose it’s almost easier to answer which character I aspire to be. Well, maybe aspire isn’t the best word, but there’s a goblin in my book named Thistle, and her contrary, spiteful, spiky personality was really fun to write.
With your book being scheduled to release in early 2017 what part of this journey has been the most surprising?
To be honest, it’s hard to surprise me, mostly because my previous career was as a YA editor in a Big 5 publishing house. I’ve more or less seen it all. :)
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Giveaway

1 Pre-Order or Finished Copy of Any Debut Novel Featured on Meet the Newbies
International (as long as The Book Depository ships to your country)
a Rafflecopter giveaway