Author: S Jae-Jones
Publisher: Titan Books
Release date: February 7, 2017
“We must not look at goblin men,
We must not buy their fruits.
Who knows upon what soil they fed
Their hungry thirsty roots?”
Oh gosh, I love Christina Rossetti since my first year at uni, so Wintersong got my attention with “beware of goblin men”. The book centres on Liesel, the dutiful daughter and sister who has a hidden talent in composing. She becomes entangled with the Goblin King when he takes her sister. After sacrificing her life for her sister, Liesel learns the secrets of his realm, the price of her sacrifice, the Goblin Queens before her, and that there’s more to the Goblin King under his intimidating and beautiful façade.
Wintersong‘s greatest strength is the writing which hooked, well more like seduced me. It’s poetic and musical, perfect for a story where music has a major role and influenced by a Rossetti poem, and folklore. I feel inspired to play my piano now.
The plot is a slow-burning one and if you’re looking for action or a much higher ominous presence than the Goblin King, you would be disappointed. However, I liked how the book is focused on Liesel’s inner turmoil and her mental health. I liked how her thoughts and feelings shifted constantly. Her relationships with her siblings teared me up. The romance between her and the Goblin King is okay. The sex scenes were seductive, but it felt weird and there’s the fact that Liesel kept pushing the guy into sexual situations and became dependent on him as if he was the one who could keep her alive, and he also abducted her sister to get her. But he turns into a better person in the end and does the right thing.
Maybe I’m getting tired of stories like Beauty and the Beast and have female characters trying to get their men out of their brooding shells, but I rolled my eyes and sighed as Liesel tried to get the Goblin King to be open with her and heal him through love. I was more interested in Liesel getting back to her family and creating music.
On diversity, even though I knew that the cast is white, Liesel and her siblings are biracial Asians in my mind. Sorry, it’s just how I keep picturing them. There’s one black character Francois who’s a musical genius. Francois and Liesel’s brother Josef develop a bond and it’s implied that it’s beyond platonic. I hope we get to see more of them in the second book. If you’re black, just be aware that there’s a slur (to refer Francois) in the book. I was a little disappointed that the book didn’t explore more on female sexuality or play more with the themes Goblin Market evokes.
I didn’t like the words that are associated with civilisation/colonisation such as “savage” to describe the goblin festivities, a contrast to human ones. I wish the goblins including Liesel’s attendants had more page time.
Despite its flaws, I enjoyed Wintersong and can’t wait for the sequel 🙂