Wintersong by: S-Jae Jones

Summary:

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.

The Review:

This was another book on my TBR and also one of debut authors I was excited to read about. What also excited me was that it was a sort of retelling of the movie Labyrinth, one of my favorite movies.

This book is very character driven. Liesl, is someone who is sort of the odd person out in her family, and usually has to play second fiddle to her younger brother and sister, who are more musically talented than she is. The book also focuses on the fact that she doesn’t fit the conventional beauty of the world., and I like the fact that she wasn’t given this huge makeover to become beautiful. Also despite everything she still loves her sister in order to free her from the Goblin King, and would do everything for her.

The Goblin King, while not exactly the Goblin King from the movie Labyrinth, he reminded me a bit of earlier seasons Rumple from Once a Upon a Time. While as the legends say he is suppose to be the monster you stay away from. I feel the story really picked up when The Goblin King was introduced. His back story was also really well done, without giving too much away you see why he takes an interest in Liesl.

While the relationship with Liesl and The Goblin King, seemed very wrong at first as the book went one in reminded me a lot of Beauty and the Beast. You find out that The Goblin King has a desire for music, which is why he chosen Liesl to begin with. I also liked the relationship was gradual over time and not completely rushed like other YA novels.

A negative I would have to point out is the pacing. I felt the pacing was way to fast in the beginning and I wish I saw more of the trials of Leisl trying to find her sister in the Underground. While the Underground scenes were very good I just wanted to see more of it, especially as a fan of Labyrinth.

I also felt that the ending was very rushed an anti-climatic. It just felt as if it was added at the last minute to add some conflict to the plot. I think there’s another book so hopefully it will add more to the story.

In the end, I enjoyed Wintersong, while it wasn’t as good as I wanted it to be, it was an enjoyable with a great leading protagonist, a good retelling of the story of the Goblin King. While it was very character driven, the characters added a lot to the book.

Grade: 3.9/5


 

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Caraval by: Stephanie Garber

Summary:

Remember, it’s only a game…

Scarlett Dragna has never left the tiny island where she and her sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval—the faraway, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show—are over.

But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt-of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. Nevertheless she becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic. And whether Caraval is real or not, Scarlett must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over or a dangerous domino effect of consequences will be set off, and her beloved sister will disappear forever.

Welcome, welcome to Caraval…beware of getting swept too far away.

The Review:

Earlier in the year in my Top 5 Wedneday Debuts I’m Exitcied For, this book was on  the the list, mainly because the premise intrigued me. Mainly because the Caraval sounds a lot like The Night Circus, and it didn’t disappoint.

Let’s first discuss the characters. Scarlett was a pretty good protagonist. While in the beginning of teh book she was very annoying and whiny which I thought would infuriate me. But as the book went on she did mellow out for me and got better. For a majority of the book she is trying to find her sister and win the Caraval game in order to do so. She realizes that she has to go through a lot of quick thinking in order to do so. I like how that she always wanted to attend the Caraval and she keeps sending letters in order to get tickets to go.

Tella, her sister is very outgoing and I love the relationship between the two sisters, which I always feel that is lacking in a lot of YA books is great sister relationships, and you see after Tella gets captured why she wants to rescue her. Both of them live in an abusive household, and dream of escaping, it is also what bonds them as sisters.

Julian, is pretty much the lovable rogue character in the book. While his character arc is playing the rogue type character, who will obviously fall in love with the female lead, I did like his character. You can tell that he cares a lot about Scarlett and wants her to find her sister. While a romance was there it didn’t distract us from the plot.The other supporting characters in the Caraval were great as well, but I wish they had a bit more development, but hopefully future books will do that.

The world building was not as great as I wanted it to be. When Scarlett finally entered Caraval, I wanted rich descriptions of worlds sort of like Alice in Wonderland, and a sense that you are “not in Kansas anymore”. But the story itself was really good. This will be most likely be very vague since I don’t want to spoil anything but I did like the twists and turns the book took, and Legend, the leader of the Caraval was a pretty good villain who reminded me a lot of Rumpelstiltskin from Once upon a Time.

At first, I didn’t like the twist but as I really thought about it, I thought it was pretty good and you see why it happened. Also the epilogue has another great twist which makes you want to know what happens next

In the end, Caraval was a great debut for Stephanie Garber which have us great story and characters that you want to see more of, and I want to see where the story goes.

Grade: 4/5