Author: S. Jae-Jones
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, Romance, Gothic Literature, Fairytale
Feature Image Credit – MadReviews
These days, it’s a rare thing for me to find a good fantasy novel and really enjoy the romance that inadvertently seems to crop up within its pages. And last year, I was sent Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones, and I immediately fell in love with the gothic world of the Goblin King and his conquest, the musical protegee Liesel.
Unfortunately, I didn’t review this book (but I’ll link a blog post from Smart Bitches, Trashy Books if you want to get up to speed with the gist of the tale) before I dive into the review of its highly anticipated sequel, Shadowsong.
Shadowsong is the conclusion of the Wintersong series and had quite a lot to live up too. At the end of the first book, Liesel had broken the old laws and had left the Goblin Underground and her husband to go back to the real world. However, it was obvious that this would have a ripple effect on the world, and I was excited to see how it would pan out.
Six months had passed since the end of Wintersong, and Liesel is just existing in her world. Stuck between missing her Goblin King and realm underground and coping with the running of her family’s failing tavarn in the backwoods of Bavaria, Liesel is trapped between the past and the present. Unable to compose or even really listen to music, she cannot find comfort in her day-to-day life. Along with this, Liesel’s closest confidante – her brother Josef – has been spirited away to the glittering social circles of Vienna and Salzburg, there is little to salvage once was the feisty, musically inclined Goblin Queen.
However, when Liesel receives an emotional summons to join her brother, she quickly flees to his side to get caught up in the baroque decadence of the big cities. Yet, little to Liesel’s knowledge at first, The Wild Hunt is furiously pursuing her. And soon Liesel has to confront her demons, her past and the warped creature that was her austere young man that she left in the Underground.
As I said, this book was highly anticipated for fans of Wintersong. I know readers couldn’t wait to clamour all over the rich world that Jae-Jones had envisioned, and see whether Liesel and the Goblin King would ever get reunited again.
Yet, for me, this book fell incredibly short of the mark.
First thing. The romance wasn’t there. Like I said, it takes me a lot to actually enjoyed the YA/fantasy romance of books nowadays. But the tension and relationship between Liesel and her Goblin King were one of the main hooks of the first book. So much so that I couldn’t wait to read all about their exchanges and scenes again.
But in Shadowsong, it barely was there. The couple spent 95% of the book separated. So, soon I got bored of the plot.
Don’t get me wrong, the lyrical style of writing was present. S. Jae-Jones is a beautiful writer, and her descriptive passages are lovely to read. But I really wasn’t invested in the plot this time. I didn’t really care for the struggles of Josef (a fairly bland, angsty character in my mind) or the twists and turns of the novel. I very nearly put this sequel down a few times, just because I felt a little cheated. However, I did persevere. The ending tied all the loose ends together well, and I did feel that it sort of brought it back from the brink (although the plot line where Liesel was trying to discover the Goblin King’s real name should have been more prominent, I feel. To me, it was kind of lazy writing how it was just thrown in there at random points and rushed at the end) but I really did feel let down.
Perhaps, in a few months, I’ll pick up Shadowsong again and read it. But I know that for my first impression, it radically fell short off the mark. However, I would read more of S. Jae-Jones work, so I will give her that.