Review of Wintersong by S Jae- Jones

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:

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.

Review for The Weight of Feathers by Anna-Marie McLemore

TheWeightofFeathersThe Weight of Feathers
By: Anna-Marie McLemore
Release Date: September 15, 2015
Publisher: Thomas Dunne
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

My Rating:

For twenty years, the Palomas and the Corbeaus have been rivals and enemies, locked in an escalating feud for over a generation. Both families make their living as traveling performers in competing shows—the Palomas swimming in mermaid exhibitions, the Corbeaus, former tightrope walkers, performing in the tallest trees they can find.

Lace Paloma may be new to her family’s show, but she knows as well as anyone that the Corbeaus are pure magia negra, black magic from the devil himself. Simply touching one could mean death, and she’s been taught from birth to keep away. But when disaster strikes the small town where both families are performing, it’s a Corbeau boy, Cluck, who saves Lace’s life. And his touch immerses her in the world of the Corbeaus, where falling for him could turn his own family against him, and one misstep can be just as dangerous on the ground as it is in the trees.

The Story:
After reading the summary I was excited about the idea that The Weight of Feathers had a Romeo and Juliet feeling about the story- with two people falling in love against all odds and their family’s deep rooted hatred of one another.  This story alternated between the point of views of both Cluck and Lace both written in third person. I’m typically not a fan of third person because it usually doesn’t allow for me to connect. I didn’t have this problem at all with TWoF and seeing the story unfold in this way allowed me as the reader to see from both sides how each family functioned.

I was afraid that within the space of one book that perhaps I’d not feel that the families really despised each other and that this division between the two wouldn’t seem enough to keep them apart. Well, Mclemore more than created animosity between the Palomas and the Corbeaus. I was mesmerized by the history and myth each family held on to and believed in. It really created an atmosphere of tension knowing that these two warring families were so easily able to bump into each other around the small town they occupied for their shows. Their relationship with one another really did feel explosive and I was incredibly impressed with how well this feeling came across the pages.

The writing in this book was beyond beautiful and the descriptions incredibly vivid and crystal clear to visualize. I really felt that I was there at both family’s camps. Everything was drawn out so clearly I really was transported into the setting as corny as that might sound. The prose flowed elegantly and smoothly and was really wonderful to read.

This story was very character driven so there were not a lot of action sequences and the pacing could be considered slower if you are more interested in fast action scenes. The depth of the character growth and interactions was delightful and midway through the book I had trouble putting it down.

Another aspect I really enjoyed was the magical realism throughout the book. The Corbeaus are born with feathers and the Palomas with scales. Yes, this sounds sort of crazy but the way McLemore incorporated them seemed plausible and it was very easy for me to accept.

The Characters:
As I said above the characters really drive this story. As the summary states the story focused on Lace Palomas and Cluck Corbeaus. We experienced their life in their family and how it felt for them to work and live in a traveling show environment. I loved seeing the similiarities between the families as well as the differences. The little bits of French and Spanish thrown in really enhanced this feeling and helped to set the family atmosphere.

One small peeve I had- at first I was very hesitant of the nickname Cluck. It pulled me from the story but as things progressed and I was given the backstory as to why it really made sense and stopped bothering me.  As a character, I adored Cluck and felt that his quiet stoicism was intriguing as well as heartbreaking in parts. His relationship to his grandfather was so touching to me and I found myself able to really relate to it.

Lace was highly relatable and likeable. I had no problem at all getting behind her story and rooting for her throughout the book. I wanted for her to find happiness. Loving both these characters really helped to enhance my reading experience. Together these two shone. I adored their relationship and I honestly wanted to read much more of them one on one (I needed more kissing!)

The secondary cast filled their roles perfectly and most of them felt very unique and fleshed out. Only a handful of them had much of their back-story looked into but the ones that did really stood out for me.

Final Thoughts:
The Weight of Feathers brought me to tears, had me rooting for the main characters and completely entranced in these two family’s dramas. I felt that McLemore did an exquisite job creating her world and characters and I’ll be reading the next book she releases no questions asked.