Published by Thomas Dunne on February 7th 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult, romance, Retelling
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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.
I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
I have so many complex emotions and thoughts when it comes to this book. I really don’t know what I’m going to say so I’m just going to type and see what thoughts fall out of my brain. There’s so much to talk about and I don’t want to spoil anything but I also want to tell you about I really enjoyed this book. It was a lot longer, covered more story and was more complex than I expected.
Retelling? Maybe not
I heard a lot about this being a Labyrinth retelling. I am a HUGE Labyrinth fan so that drew me to this book right away. Still, after reading it, I’m not sure that is actually true. That doesn’t make the book bad or the movie bad, it just means that I’m not sure it really is a retelling of Labyrinth. As far as I can tell, the only things that they have in common is that they both have a girl and a Goblin King. I can understand the comparison, because this book is so fresh and original, you have to liken it to something. However, I think it set a false expectation about the book. Labyrinth is very lighthearted and humorous. Wintersong has a completely different tone. It’s much more somber. The story takes itself seriously.
The characters really drive this book. I loved Liesl. She’s completed devoted to her family to the detriment of herself. She would do anything so that her brother and sister are happy. She puts aside her own desire to be a composer to support her brother’s music. She put aside her infatuation with her sister’s fiance to support her sister’s love. Everything she does is for someone else. I also loved Der Erlkonig. He’s complex and interesting. GAH there are so many things I want to say about him but I can’t for fear of spoiling you.
The (slight) Downsides
If you love music, this book is for you. Liesl, Joseph and Der Erlkonig are all composers. Everything they do is driven by their love of music and the drive to create it. I’m not musical at all so I couldn’t connect with all the music details as much as I wish I could. I had the same issue when I read Roseblood. Also, this book is written beautifully and ethereally. Sometimes it felt like Liesl was almost in a dream. I have a very hard time connecting with books like this because I want something more concrete. It’s not a downside for everyone, but it made it more difficult for me. I generally don’t like magical realism at all but there are exceptions. This is definitely a fantasy but it reads like magical realism.
The best thing I can tell you about this book, is that a sequel is coming. I am already eagerly awaiting it!