By: S. Jae Jones
Expected Publication Date: February 7, 2017
Bang Bang Rating:
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Wintersong is a loose reimagination of the 1986 film Labyrinth starring David Bowie. I have not seen the movie so I cannot comment any further.
Liesl, the plain sister, is our main heroine who permanently lives in the shadow of her attractive younger sister and a musically gifted even younger brother and she constantly reminds you just in case you forgot. Liesl’s father is a drunk leaving the mother to be the bread winner and Liesl to basically raise her siblings so when her sister Kathe gets taken by The Goblin King, Liesl stops at nothing to get her back. Pretty simple plot, yes? Well, hold on to your pants because it’s about to get bonkers.
Everyone around Liesl is either incredibly beautiful or immensely talented leaving Liesl to have some series self esteem issues. As a child, she made friends and composed music for the Goblin King thinking he’s just a fairy tale made up by her eccentric grandmother but Liesl SLOWLY realizes that The Goblin King has been in love with her since childhood for her internal beauty. Liesl sees the thin austere young man in the market and although she’s seriously insecure, her body is on fire for the King. Lot’s of things happen but most of the time the Goblin King is testing Liesl all the while falling in love.
Jones is a debut and I think she is a wonderful world builder with quite an imagination but I wish she had put more effort into her character development. All of the characters are toeing the stereotype line. Liesl is the dowdy sister who’s over looked because she a girl; Kathe is the desired one but not that bright, the brother is doted upon because he’s a boy, the father is a sexist drunk, the mom works hard and ignores the kids, and the grandma is an eccentric. There are some small nuances among all the characters which make them somewhat special but they aren’t archetypes. Jones used too much repetition to develop characters rather than expanding on their foundation. The Goblin King was also a missed opportunity to develop a great new villain. He had secrets which was great but once again, his character development was repetitious. I liken him to The Darkling but The Darkling was a well developed misunderstood manipulative villain while he Goblin King was sort of a manipulator and sort of misunderstood.
I also felt Wintersong could have used a better editor. There was way too much going on and it took away from the romance between Liesl and The Goblin King. I know it’s a labyrinth and there are supposed to be layers of weird and there were with Wintersong but the layers seemed to be detached and not cohesive. There was a lot of explaining and not enough opportunities for the reader to figure out the clues. The pacing also could have been better.
As I began reading, I was picturing Asian characters but slowly realized that this was 19th century Germany (?). Not that the characters had to be minorities but I come to expect the characters to resemble the author and I should probably stop doing that.
Overall I think Jones has potential and I will probably read subsequent books by her. Cruel Beauty is quite similar to Wintersong but what sets it apart is the strong character development in Nyx, Ignifex, and Shade. But if you like a strong theme that focuses on love and music, you’ll enjoy Wintersong.