Once there was a little girl who played her music for a little boy in the wood.
Wintersong is, at best, unique. Unfortunately I’m not entirely sure the degree to which that is fair of me to say since I’ve not personally read many novels with Goblin-esque royalty.
Good or bad, I spent 90% of my time reading this novel comparing it to Jim Henson’s Labyrinth, as I’m sure a number of readers did as well. And where Henson’s Sarah and Jareth were deeply compelling, strong, and fascinating…I found S. Jae-Jones’ Elizabeth and Goblin King lacking.
Ironically, what this comes down to is that the second half of the book completely tore down what brilliance there had been in the first half.
Where we find darkness and cruel mystery in the Goblin King, it eventually feels stripped away in this person within idea of an austere boy–the repetitiveness of this phrase made me nearly gag–and Elizabeth loses every ounce of strength she had in the beginning.
And, in truth, this isn’t to say that I found it hugely problematic as I still enjoyed reading the ending and found myself rather impressed with the unique manner in which Jae-Jones told their story, there was a sort of disappointment in feeling as though I had somehow lost the characters we’d begun with.
The romance itself was something I struggled with as it didn’t feel entirely real and I repeatedly found myself wondering exactly how and when Lisel could have possibly grown to love him because Jae-Jones never seemed to give us that moment. Her memories of her childhood friend were all but lost to her, vague and hard to recall which ultimately left that portion of their connection lacking and disappointing.
And frankly I could have done without the sex entirely. It left a rather nasty taste in my mouth every single time, especially the first. -cringe-
[SPOILER]Then, perhaps purposefully, the Goblin King simply left a nasty feel of abuse and control in his convincing her to marry him while simultaneously existing as this genuine person did grow to care. As if he were warring with the magic and himself. It didn’t quite endear me to their romance, though I’ll admit I found this piece of the story rather fascinating. In fact, his letting her leave and their decision to separate because he loved her and did not want to be her death was perhaps the best part of the story, though I feel myself wishing it were a different story altogether.[/SPOILER]
My largest complaint, I think, comes in the pacing of the novel. To put it simply, the whole thing felt as though it were to drag on and on and on and on for far too long. I wasn’t connected enough with the characters and the deep importance of the music to Lisel’s character that I ever managed to get over how boring it felt for everything to be taking so long.
I’m not sure what I was looking for in Wintersong, but the story we got certainly didn’t fit the expectations. It felt like two novels patched hastily into one, rushing the beginning and saving of Lisel’s sister and later giving an agonizingly slow portrayal of a romance between what I will say genuinely felt like three different people (or beings, maybe?).
I didn’t like the goblin girls. I found the changling rather fascinating. And I felt as though we were somehow deprived of a much better adventure than the one we were given. It wasn’t a good enough Labyrinth, but then…I don’t know if it was meant to be a a Labyrinth at all?
It was hard to rate this one; perhaps it simply wasn’t my cup of tea.
*Intriguing, yet lacking.
*Incredibly slow pace.
*I don’t think I’ll read the sequel.