by S. Jae-Jones
Publisher: Thomas Dunne
Release Date: February 7th 2017
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, Retellings, Romance
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.
(I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a review).
(This review may contain spoilers).
I really liked the blurb of this book. I thought it was interesting to see the contrast between Liesl and her sister, though I found it hard to really care about Kathe. I particularly liked seeing the relationship between Liesl and her brother Josef, though. Their relationship gained a new dimension with certain things revealed towards the end of the book.
I did feel that this book moved very slowly in the middle. Even in Liesl’s world, I had the impression that reality was more of a dream, long before the Goblin King started exerting his influence.
While it was good to see that Liesl wasn’t the stereotypical heroine, I did feel that too much was made of the fact she wasn’t pretty. It got to the point of being too repetitive.
It was good to learn about the legends of the goblins and their king and it was interesting to see Liesl’ feelings towards Thistle and Twig, who, even by the end of the book, I was really unsure about.
I did feel this book was particularly dark at times, but I also felt there wasn’t much of an urgency where there should have been. Long passages of time were glossed over, during which I felt there could have been character development. It was good to see something of the world outside where Liesl’s brother and sister were, but I didn’t get a strong impression of her relationship with her parents, even at the start of the book.
I did find the Goblin King to be the most intriguing character and I would have liked the book to focus more on him. I felt that Liesl didn’t push as hard as she might have done to learn about him and while the blurb had promised a relationship forming between them, I found it harder to believe in those emotions, as the two of them didn’t spend nearly as much time together as they probably should have done.
I did feel there were parts of this book that were moving and I would have liked to see more time spent on the relationship between the characters. The ending was somewhat disappointing, even though it was perhaps the best possible outcome. I would be interested in reading the sequel to this book, as it would be good to see more of a resolution.
S. Jae-Jones, called JJ, is an artist, an adrenaline junkie, and the author of Wintersong, forthcoming from Thomas Dunne in February 2017.
Born and raised in sunny Los Angeles, she lived in New York City for ten years before relocating down to Dixie, where she is comfortably growing fat on grits and barbecue. When not writing, she can be found rock-climbing, skydiving, taking photographs, drawing pictures, and dragging her dog on ridiculously long hikes.