Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I can't quite say whether it's because I read this book on the heels of the (as expected) terrific The Hate U Give, or if it's because this book genuinely isn't as good as A.C. Thomas' debut (apples and oranges though the comparison may be), but S. Jae-Jones' debut wasn't as good as I was hoping for.
To be fair, it seems that everyone else went into this thinking it was a Labyrinth retelling, and having never seen that movie might not have helped me, like how not having read A Tale of Two Cities hindered my enjoyment of Sarah Rees Brennan's Tell the Wind and Fire. Well, to be fair, I've also never read too much of Christina Rossetti's poetry, outside of snippets in English textbooks and in Sarah Rees Brennan's Demon's Lexicon, and that doesn't help me going into this book either.
My overall impression of Wintersong is that it's a beautiful, haunting book, brought down by its slow pace, interminable length, a plot that has a way of meandering (or sometimes feeling completely lacking), and some pretty awkward romance - borderline new-adult romance, though the book is of course marketed as YA - between Liesl and the Goblin King. Honestly, the impression I got of the Goblin King was that he was another one of those Loki-clone love interests who's pretty, but creepy and hyped to death because of his fantasy bad-boy nature. The Warden and the Darkling come to mind, and Rhysand, and Legend, and especially Morpheus.
That said, though, I couldn't stop reading once I got started, and while I'm typically not too enamored with dreamy, surreal-type fantasies that sacrifice plot for atmosphere, JJ writes so well that I couldn't help myself.
For sure I'll be reading the sequel, Shadowsong, but I'll be going into that one with a bit of trepidation - and hope that JJ gets the story a little more off the ground, and a little less directionless.
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