Friday, March 3, 2017
Book Review: Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones
This is the best book I've read in months!
It was released at the same time as Caraval, which got all the hype and was .... postmodern. But this! Wow!
The author has taken Christina Rossetti's poem "Goblin Market" (She even names the protagonist Elizabeth, like Rossetti) and mixed it with Goethe's and Schubert's "Der Erlkönig," throwing in the myth of Persephone and just a titch of Labyrinth with her unnamed Goblin King of "austere" (most over-used word in the book) beauty and "thistledown" hair looking all-too-much like David Bowie as Jareth. But all of this is woven so skillfully together!
I devoured this book.
The characterization is strong: Liesl/Elizabeth is a feminist character who does not need saving by a man; her goal is to save her siblings. She isn't pretty, which is a nice change. She does not spend the whole book looking for a man, and, even though her unsurprising romance is a major part of the book, it is not what "makes" her as a person.
The setting is good, with enough historical touches thrown in to make it feel real. (There is that anachronistic weirdness of what appears to be a Medieval monk teaching the Goblin King to play the violin, however. ) And the plot is multi-layered with several surprises.
I thought at first it was a stand-alone, as the ending is fabulous and should really be the final end. But then I noticed that the tiny subplot of the grandmother and the Goblin King is never worked out thoroughly, that Liesl never resolves things with her emotionally manipulative father, and that her brother's conflicts are left hanging. Therefore, in spite of the fact that Liesl's main conflicts have been resolved and she's in a good place (as is her sister), I'm guessing there will be a sequel to bring a cheesier ending; I just hope it doesn't spoil the goodness of this one.
If you feel like reading a modern fairy tale that feels as old as the Grimm Brothers' tales, try this. It is magic sliced into a novel.
I borrowed this book from the public library, but it's so good that I'm going to buy a copy to keep!