Wintersong Review: Cold Title, Yet Spicy Hot Between the Pages

January 23, 2017 by Aila J. | 4 stars, ARC Reviews, Books, Reviews

Wintersong Review: Cold Title, Yet Spicy Hot Between the PagesWintersong by S. Jae-Jones
Published by Thomas Dunne on February 7th 2017
Source: Publisher, Netgalley
Genres: Fantasy & Magic, Romance
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Beware the goblin men and the wares they sell.
All her life, nineteen-year-old Liesl has heard tales of the beautiful, mysterious Goblin King. He is the Lord of Mischief, the Ruler Underground, and the muse around which her music is composed. Yet, as Liesl helps shoulder the burden of running her family’s inn, her dreams of composition and childish fancies about the Goblin King must be set aside in favor of more practical concerns.
But when her sister Käthe is taken by the goblins, Liesl journeys to their realm to rescue her sister and return her to the world above. The Goblin King agrees to let Käthe go—for a price. The life of a maiden must be given to the land, in accordance with the old laws. A life for a life, he says. Without sacrifice, nothing good can grow. Without death, there can be no rebirth. In exchange for her sister’s freedom, Liesl offers her hand in marriage to the Goblin King. He accepts.
Down in the Underground, Liesl discovers that the Goblin King still inspires her—musically, physically, emotionally. Yet even as her talent blossoms, Liesl’s life is slowly fading away, the price she paid for becoming the Goblin King’s bride. As the two of them grow closer, they must learn just what it is they are each willing to sacrifice: her life, her music, or the end of the world.

Travel to the Underground in this magical, lyrical retelling of The Labyrinth. This was one of my biggest anticipated reads for this winter, so I was absolutely ecstatic when I got my hands on it. The cover and blurb drew me to it like a moth to flame – because come on, who would let go of a steamy Labyrinth retelling? I can’t wait for readers to get ahold of this one because everything – from the stunning imagery to the characters with so much heart – makes this one a fantasy not to pass on.

Liesl is the plain one in her family: the eldest child without the talent of the youngest or the beauty of the middle. She is the person most easily forgotten in the room, and she’s content that way. From the beginning, readers are drawn to her easygoing yet pliable attitude where she has a marked focus on her younger brother Joseph’s music education and selflessness towards herself. We are constantly reminded of how she pales in comparison to her siblings, and yet there’s a spark in her waiting to be let out. It just takes the right impetus to galvanize her light to shine.

‘There is music in your soul. A wild and untamed sort of music that speaks to me. It defies all the rules and laws you humans set upon it. It grows from inside you, and I have a wish to set that music free.’

Through a series of events, Liesl ends up in the Underground – which she all but forgotten after growing up from her grandmother’s silly tall tales. It turns out that the Goblin King is real… and he wants Liesl as her bride. They play a “game” where Liesl saves her sister Kathe from being drained by the goblin denizens, instead taking her place next to the king’s side where she can let her passions grow without restraint. Soon enough, though, Liesl discovers that being queen has a price – while leaving would also create consequences. She’s caught in a conundrum, all while slowly getting to know the mysterious, ethereal Goblin King who is becoming more and more vulnerable and human in her eyes.


I love how the author ties in music with Liesl’s charater. Liesl is a composer, a creator of music and her passion shines clearly through her work. It’s that kind of passion that draws the Goblin King towards her. She has the quiet grace and strength to last in the Underground, while the previous girls brought down there went out like a bright spark of fire in a quick and forgettable way. You can tell she’s clearly a special snowflake – and yet, she’s not pristine and perfect. Liesl has much to learn and grow from, which makes her characterization much more dimensional.

The plot was a bit slow – more like a sedate movement if anything – yet still full of twists that kept readers enthralled and on their toes. It was woven masterfully with the mellifluous and tangible writing that keeps readers’ eyes glued to the pages. The book is a tad on the long side, yes, but the author certainly keeps us busy throughout it all. We see through tremendous character development, self-discovery and introspection, a smoldering romance… and don’t forget some steamy moments that were nearly combustible.

‘You think too much, Elisabeth,’ he said. ‘Too much about propriety, too much about duty, too much about everything but music. For once, don’t think.’ The Goblin King smiled. It was a wicked grin, one that made me feel unsafe and excited at the same time. ‘Don’t think. Feel.

The banter between Liesl and the Goblin King would be adorable one moment, progress to something hot and smexy in the next, and become cold and aloof instantaneously afterwards. Jae-Jones does a great job in exploring the intricacies of human nature, and what exactly makes us human in general. There were moments where the Goblin King looked more like a young man than powerful being that Liesl catches a glimpse off, spurring her to discover what exactly happened to the Goblin King, and how he became that way. I also adored how the author expands on the Goblin King’s character. We don’t know his name, no, but we eventually grow to know what he was, what he wants, and why – as well as understand him. At the same time, Liesl matures and finds the balance where her character needs to stay grounded, between love for her family and compassion towards herself.

Love kept the wheel of life turning. Love created bridges between worlds. If there was nothing else I had learned, I had learned that love was greater than the old laws.

I only had some minor complaints though, such as the obvious length of the book where at some points I felt frustration towards Liesl. She made some choices that were difficult and necessary for character growth but still I couldn’t help getting annoyed by. Another exasperating point was when Liesl was constantly comparing herself to her siblings throughout the majority of the first half of the book. It was to the point where I would guess it and it happened (to my amusement). I understand the narrator trying to make a point but girl you don’t have to remind us every chapter. The bittersweet ending had a strong resolution, but definitely left room for more storyline – which I’m excited to read about in the sequel.


Wintersong may revolve around the coming of winter, but the steamy scenes between the characters were enough to melt any cold feelings any reader would have. Liesl’s unforgettable journey of self-discovery and love – for her family, the love interest, and most importantly, herself – was what sealed the deal for me. Coupled with the vivid imagery and flowing writing that allows for no breaks, Wintersong is a majestic symphony of feelings and growth put into one book – a book that readers of all stories should pick up.

Rating: 4 out of 5


Thank you Netgalley and St. Martins Press for the review copy!


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Aila is a young adult reader who loves to transport herself to new dimensions through reading. She's currently an undergraduate student at university in the US. Let's talk about our obsessions on Twitter @aila_1woaa!

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38 responses to “Wintersong Review: Cold Title, Yet Spicy Hot Between the Pages

  1. Such a beautiful review, Aila! I love these quotes. Slow and lengthy may be a problem for me, but I like the sound of the romance and character’s growth. I’ll keep this book in mind for later.

  2. YAY so glad you enjoyed this one too! I will be reviewing it soon, but I agree with so much of what you said. The writing was just so… gorgeous for me. Like, I agree that it was quite long, but somehow I was so immersed that it didn't feel as long, even though it wasn't super fast paced. I usually am not a huge fan of music in books, but this worked SO well for me, which was surprising! ANd I was so happy/relieved to hear there would be a sequel too! Great review 😀

    • Thanks so much Shannon!
      AND OMG FOR REAL, THANK GOODNESS FOR THE SEQUEL. I read the end and almost D I E D. Like how even????

      Anyways, ahem, the writing was soooo immersive and captivating. And the complex plot definitely made up for the sedate pace. I super want the sequel now!

  3. I was a little disappointed by this book. Perhaps my expectations were too high? I think it would have really worked for me if it had stayed a sexy adult fantasy romance novel, and not a YA one. Ultimately I felt like the Goblin King was a shadow of what he could have been, and there was way too much emphasis and reliance on sex as part of the plot.

    BUT. I still (somewhat) liked the book. I'm definitely going to read the sequel, now that I know that it's a direct one (and not a companion sequel, like I'd previously thought). 😀

    I'm glad you enjoyed this book, Aila! Great review. =)

    Alyssa @ The Eater of Books!

    • Thanks so much Alyssa! And I totally know where you're coming from. Although the sex scenes were welcome (lmao my dirty mind), I also thought that parts of the plot were built too much from them, which became a bit tiresome. The Goblin King remained a mystery throughout the book too, so while I'm excited for the sequel, I better get some questions answered!

      Glad you still somewhat enjoyed it, hehe. 😛

  4. brittanysbookrambles

    Oh my god, I was in a public place surrounded by tons of people when I got to one of the super steamy scenes, and I was blushing so hard. I was totally not expecting it! I loved this book, so I'm glad you enjoyed it too 🙂 Fantastic review!

    Brittany @ Brittany's Book Rambles

    • YAAS haha steamy parts = the BESTTT. Did you sign up for the extra steam parts in the author's newsletter? *wink wink* Because I can't wait for those.

  5. Maybe you're too young, but have you seen or heard of Labyrinth? It's this huge movie in the 80's, the Goblin King stars David Bowie. I haven't read this but it's giving me the same vibes! I need this in my life!

    • That's because it's based on the movie The Labyrinth! Haha Braine, of course I've watched the movie – it's an iconic classic 😀

  6. Bec

    Every time I read Goblet King I had flashbacks to Labyrinth haha. That's enough to intrigue me, but the characters sound super intriguing too. And a slow(ish) plot is not enough to put me off. I'm definitely going to have to check this out!

  7. Kelly

    This sounds like such a great read – I have an eARC of this I'm going to have to tackle next, I think! I love the photo, too! Great review!

  8. Ohh this reminds me a little of Stolen Songbird, but BETTER. Honestly I don't know much about The Goblin King, but this is also on my highly anticipated list, so I'm hoping to get to it soon!

    • Valerie I hope you enjoy this one. I liked Stolen Songbird fine, but I felt like the incorporation of music and exploration of human nature in Wintersong left way more of an impact that SS did. And the relationships in here are super complex, making it much more than what I thought SS offered.

  9. Woooh!! What a great review! I actually was just blog hopping and a fellow blogger was say she's only 25% through this read and was having a hard time getting with the pacing.I'll have to encourage her to keep going 🙂

  10. I need this book in my life right now. I am SO PUMPED for this–Labyrinth is one of my favorites and I can't wait to see how she recreates the Goblin King.

      It's definitely a different Goblin King from the movie, but I think you'll enjoy this smexy, dark, tantalizing version of him!

  11. YES! This is one of my most anticipated books of the year so I'm so relieved to hear you enjoyed it so much Jeann. Thanks for sharing and, as always, fabulous review! <3

  12. I'm so excited for this one! Glad to hear that despite the book being a long one it kept you captivated all along even with a few annoyances!
    Great review Aila!


  14. Your review has me all the more excited for this book and I had no idea this was a retelling of Labyrinth. I love it when an author takes the time to explore the complexities of human nature and I'm excited to see how music ties into the story. I wasn't expecting this book to be so steamy but I won't complain about that. 😉

    • I love exploring human nature and relationships as well. And omg, the music is HEAVILY incorporated into the story. It's well-written, and the steamy parts are definitely a plus. I hope you love this one Lois!

    • Whaaaat you didn't!? You must pick it up as soon as you can! The world was just utterly enchanting, and the characters were a blast to read about. 😀 I hope you enjoy it if you can ever get to it!

  15. Ohhh you have me intrigued! I love the concept of The Labyrinth retelling, and who isn't even up for the 'Beauty and the Beast' trope that I kind of spy in this one! The cover had be intrigued primarily, but you're review sealed the deal. Excited to hopefully be picking this up in February!
    Great review, good job!

  16. Ali (@thebandarblog)

    I had been writing this novel off, but not I'm more intrigued after reading your review! I just may have to pick this one up!

  17. booksarelife987

    Such a great review 🙂 And I am super excited for this one! THAT PICTURE IS SO BEAUTIFUL, I AM SO JEALOUS OF YOUR PHOTOGRAPHY SKILLS! <3 and two retellings in one? BRING IT ON!

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