BWW Book Review: WINTERSONG by S. Jae-Jones
"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."
~Der Erlkönig, WINTERSONGThis week marks the release of WINTERSONG, a highly buzzed about debut novel from S. Jae-Jones. It pays homage to Jim Henson's Labyrinth, to Mozart's The Magic Flute, to Christina Rossetti's poem "Goblin Market," and even to the classic tale of Little Red Riding Hood. It is one of many tales of Der Erlkönig, or The Erl-King, and, in some ways, reminds me of two of my favorite Greek myths, the tales of both "Hades and Persephone" and "Orpheus and Eurydice." While WINTERSONG is a blend of so many beloved pieces of various tales, it is also wholly a story of its own.
Liesl has never wanted much in life. Her sister Käthe is the comely one and her brother Josef is a musical virtuoso. Music is in Liesl's soul, too, however, as a female, to compose is to overstep her allotment in life. As a child, Liesl played in the woods with a mysterious boy and promised him things she didn't understand. Now, she has grown up, and her playmate the Der Erlkönig, the Goblin King, has come to claim the hand in marriage she once promised him. He bewitches Käthe and entices Liesl to a game. If she loses, she surrenders her sister. If she wins, however, even more is lost. As Liesl begins to understand the cruel twists in the game, she finds herself on the verge of an impossible decision.
I wanted this book when it was a publishing deal. Then we had a summary. When I saw that cover? I was a goner! I've read it twice already, once really early last summer, and once this past week--and the book only came out this past week! Both times, I was utterly enchanted and spellbound, caught up in 1800 Germany, bespelled by the wonders of the Goblin Market, entranced by the dangers of the Underground. I've been on this journey right there with Liesl, and truly come to know her. It's ironic, really: Liesl doesn't even know herself for a good portion of the book. She's been so intent on the needs of her family that she's never taken the time to know herself. It's only in the Underground that she begins to bloom and accept herself, from the good to the ugly.