Book Review: Wintersong

24763621

4-star

Title: Wintersong

Author: S. J. Jones

Series? Yes!

Rating: 4/5 Stars

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Wintersong was deeply inspired by classical music, especially the works of Mozart. Liesl’s ambition and passion as a composer was a significant catalyst for many of the novel’s events. Therefore, I wanted to review Wintersong using musical terminology, and I hope I do it justice – especially because my musical knowledge is non-existent (thank you for my crash course, Google!).

Prelude –
an introductory piece of music.

Like all of the best stories, Wintersong contains breathtaking beauty, but also holds danger and darkness within its intoxicating pages. S. J. Jones is a conductor of words, she weaves her love of gothic fairy tales, Mozart, and Labyrinth to form Liesl’s sensual tale of love, loss, and sacrifice.

Wintersong

Fugue –
a composition characterised by the repetition of a principal theme/subject in simultaneously sounding melodic line.

At the heart of Wintersong is a tale about Liesl’s identity and self-discovery. The prologue begins with a long-forgotten play date between a young Liesl and the Goblin King. where games were wagered and promises were made. Memories of these games were soon hidden by the tolls of life and Liesl’s burgeoning adulthood, until they’re reignited by an encounter at the Goblin Market.

The romance in this book demands more than a simple recovery of Liesl’s lost memory. Her relationship with der Erlkönig, and with herself, is far too complicated for that. Liesl is long changed from that young girl frolicking in the winter forest. She is forever changed by the weight of her family’s expectations, by a society that denies her musical talents, and by her convoluted relationship with both her siblings. Liesl also harbours deep insecurities, having grown up labelled as the plain, untalented sibling.

The Goblin King tells Liesl that he wants ‘You, entire.’ The phrase is a refrain we hear time and again throughout the novel. Certainly romantic, yet not achievable until Liesl can claim her identity. I love the book’s deep introspection and insights into Liesl’s psyche, where we got to see her flaws as clearly as her strengths. Whether she was sequestered in the Underground, or being consumed by her own music, Liesl always remained resilient and true to herself.

Wintersong was not only a storybook romance between a girl and the Goblin King, it was more importantly a story of a woman who learned to love herself.

Sonata –
a musical composition typically consisting of two to four movements, each in a related key but with unique musical character.

It should come at no surprise that the very structure of Wintersong works like a complete musical composition. In place of soaring melodies, we have beautifully written words that can conjure both the wintry landscape of Germany, to the dark temptations of the Goblin realm. The imageries are rich and visceral, as intoxicating as the Goblin wine described in the tale.

The book is split into numerous parts, resembling the movements of a sonata. It’s a story we’ve heard before, of unwanted girls and a monster who loves them. Even the characters within Wintersong are jaded, with many predicting an unpleasant end for Liesl and her Goblin King with certainty. Wintersong makes the most out of that preconception, and it turns out to be delightfully deceptive. From its unconventional ending, to the boldly carnal interactions between Liesl and der Erlkönig, Wintersong will feel unfamiliar from your average fairy tale.

While I loved the imagery and themes within Wintersong, I did feel that some movements in the story suffered pacing-wise. I thought that the first and final parts of the book were memorable, but the book lost some of its momentum in the intermediate sections. I wish we got to explore more of Liesl’s complex relationship with her family, especially her siblings – so I could further sympathise with the difficult choices she had to make during her journey. Josef and Francois’s relationship was a nice breath of fresh air since retellings are often lacking in LGBTQ content, but I wish we got to see more of them.

Nocturne –
a composition evocative of the night.

Wintersong is a novel that will make you want to savour those mysterious winter nights. Like moonlit nights, the mood of the book is foreboding, yet also full of promise. Through the writing, you could almost smell the wildness of the woods and the earthy Underground. You could envision the sparkling little diamonds on Liesl’s outfit, yet also vividly see her ink-stained hands and eyes consumed by music.

Most of all, you can witness the slow seduction between Liesl and the Goblin King. He draws her in with blackberry flavoured wines and wolfish glances. She challenges him with a heart full of fire and a soul full of music. While I thought their relationship developed far too quickly, I can’t deny the chemistry and the magnetic draw between the two characters. Despite enjoying their scenes together, I wish we got to know der Erlkonig a little more – but I understand that the circumstances in the novel prevented this.

Nonetheless, considering that this is her debut, I simply can’t wait to see what S. J. Jones has in store for the future.



Have you read any other tales inspired by music? What did you think of Wintersong? Also, I have to confess that I have never seen Labyrinth! Something I must rectify this weekend now that I’ve read Wintersong.

47 thoughts on “Book Review: Wintersong

    1. Yeah the author wrote a whole blog post behind her inspiration. The book started as a retelling of the Mozart piece The Magic Flute! I hope you enjoy it ♥️

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    1. Thank you ♥️ and I have! But I have forgotten so much of it 😂 I don’t even remember there’s a musical component to it. Must reread!

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  1. I will forever be envious of your blog, Aentee. All the gorgeous artwork and this review is so clever, unique and fitting!

    I liked Wintersong but I just felt the ending was a bit abrupt. And a huge chunk of the book fell into a slump after Liesl married the Goblin King.

    However, it was a great debut by S. Jae-Jones!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ahhhh don’t ever be envious, Kevin, your own blog and yourself is most fantastic ❤ Than you so much for your kind words though!!
      I agree that the ending was unsatisfying, but apparently there's a sequel in the making so fingers crossed!

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      1. Hopefully more things will be explained in Book 2. I’d love to venture back into the story because I felt like it ended rather abruptly. I enjoyed Wintersong but I need more of the Goblin King.

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  2. AN YOUR REVIEWS ARE ART. I KID YOU NOT! YOU WRITE SUCH BEAUTIFUL AND DETAILED REVIEWS IN SUCH CREATIVE WAYS I CANNOT DEAL! Also I read and absolutely loved loved loved Wintersong! It was such a beautifully magical tale and with such vivid writing and GAHH I honestly cannot deal

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  3. Really love the way you organized this post! This was my favorite read from February! I actually haven’t seen the original Labyrinth either lol

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  4. What a gorgeous review! I absolutely loved this book – I used to play piano (for like 13 years, too) so I loved all the music references. And we studied Goblin Market at school – the themes of identity and feminism are soooo so important in her poetry so it was lovely to see that reflected here. Glad you liked it too!

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    1. Ahhh I love the snippets of Goblin Market that we got in this novel, it sounds like poetry I would enjoy so I will definitely look into it!

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    1. The book is quite slow and the first half is definitely the best part, but if you’re after a darker romance I think you might like this one.

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  5. This was a very, very beautiful review to read, Aentee, thank you for writing it. I have read a couple of mixed reviews about this, so I’m not quite sure if I’ll add it to my TBR, but I’m so happy to hear you enjoyed it so much 🙂

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    1. Thanks so much Marie, I am so glad to hear you enjoyed reading my review! The book is definitely quite slow especially towards the second half so you do have to be in the mood for it. I personally love books with slower pacing so I was OK here.

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  6. I had no idea that this was going to be a series – I thought it was just going to be a standalone…I’m pleasantly surprised by this! Wintersong is such a pretty, beautiful book! Awesome review!

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    1. The author recently confirmed on twitter that she is working on a sequel. Thank goodness because the ending was slightly dissatisfying imo XD Glad you enjoyed the book and the review, Kelly!

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  7. I keep hearing about this book and it sounds really fun. I will be interested to hear what you make of Labyrinth! I watched it as an adult and I frankly think I missed my window on becoming a fan. It was just weirder than adult-me was prepared for, whereas kid-me might have found it entrancing. :p

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    1. Hahaha I think I feel similar, I might have felt different if I hadn’t heard all the hype around it. I think I emerged a little underwhelmed.

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    1. I’ve read some manga that have strong influences by classical music but this is my first book on it as well. Thanks for stopping by and your generous words ❤

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  8. Ohh amazing review! I’ve been hearing mix reviews about this book, but I want to give it a shot because it is kind of a retelling of my favorite movie the labyrinth which I adore that movie. But I have a feeling I would really love and enjoy Wintersong as well including the music aspect of this book! Thank you so much for the great post!

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  9. Gorgeous review, Aentee. I also really enjoyed this book immensely and the lyrical writing and structure. Liesl was an amazing character – not exactly lovable at times but so real and so raw. She comes with flaws and insecurities, and it made her that much easier to connect to. Plus, the Goblin King. 😛 How could I not like him?

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    1. I can’t wait to read the sequel! Glad to hear you enjoyed it as well. Hahaha I couldn’t help but imagine David Bowie as the Goblin king which made my mental images a bit off 😂

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  10. *hears references to classical music* *perks up*

    Despite all the reviews I’ve read for this one, somehow I didn’t pick up on the fact that Wintersong is actually pretty heavily influenced by/features classical music! Which is shocking, because as a total classical music geek, that is my catnip. I love a good character study, and it sounds like Liesl is an ideal subject for one, since she’s so flawed and multi-layered. I can definitely forgive some tropes and cliches in light of all that. Thanks for pushing this one even higher up my TBR, Aentee! 😀

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    1. The heroine’s personal journey and her romance is pretty much grounded in music so I think you will enjoy this one!! I hope you like it!

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  11. Great reaview. Adn I’m happy I’ve red it, because I read another which wasn’t too positive and I thought it was a shame, because there are so many great elements in this story. Well, certainly elements that I like a lot.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts 🙂

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