Oh boy. Prepare yourselves for a long, not very complimentary review ahead.
Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones is another one of those books that I requested through NetGalley, and was approved to read it, months before it was published and yet I put off reading it until after it was already out for the general public. And from what I saw on Goodreads and Instagram (which I primarily use to follow people posting about books) everyone absolutely loved it.
Wintersong was a case of gorgeous cover combined with an interesting premise. Liesl, a young girl with a strong love of music, had grown up on stories of the Goblin King. (You should definitely think David Bowie from Labyrinth because it was very clear that’s where Jae-Jones was getting her influence from even before I saw the author’s website where she admitted that was the source of her inspiration.)
In this story the king must take a bride every so often in order to keep the world from experiencing eternal winter. Even though Liesl’s always been the one to pay the most attention to the old stories, it’s Liesl’s sister Kathe who taken to be that bride.
And so begins a little cat and mouse battle where Liesl offers herself in her sister’s place and then alternately finds herself wanting nothing more than to return to her family and wanting to stay with the Goblin King as his wife forever.
After all that hype I’d heard I was let down, primarily because of the characters. Liesl harps on and on about how she is not attractive, especially compared to her sister. She talks about how her sister shows off her figure too much and more or less slut shames her but once Liesl marries the King she throws herself at him, pressing herself against him and touching him even when he tells her no. This causes her to throw a literal “break all the shit in my bedroom because somehow that will help the situation” tantrum because he didn’t give her a proper wedding night. Then, later on, when she does something that almost gets her killed the King throws a tantrum and Liesl calls him out for being childish. Oh the irony.
But the worst thing of all? Once they finally have sex Liesl feels as though she’s been broken open and has finally discovered her true self and her music. It gives her the freedom to finally compose the perfect pieces of music that she’s always wanted to compose. No, let’s stop having female characters who only discover themselves through sex and their relationships with men. It’s not cool.
And the repetition. The Goblin King is actually a title. The Goblin King has been many people over the years and his name is not one he wants others to know. So Liesl calls him The/My Goblin King or, Der Erlkonig, or, when he has a certain look in his eye, my austere young man because that’s not annoying at all. Liesl’s brother is also given three or four names/nicknames/titles. She also gives herself different names.
Oh and remember when I said Liesl was musically talented? Well, if you’re not musically talented (which I am not) you might get confused. Every so often she sits down to compose or play and we’re left with pages and pages of musical terms all written as though we should understand her moods with how she’s the music is flowing but, with no musical talents at all, I did not understand.
So to summarize this novel this was full of problematic plot lines and annoying characters.