Wintersong is a lyrical book about desire, ambition, and sacrifice. It’s been on my shelf for what feels like forever and I’m so glad I finally got to reading it. Talk about a gorgeous cover and a premise of Goblins, bargains we make for family, and love that undo us. Keep reading this book review to find out my full thoughts on this backlist book!
The last night of the year. Now the days of winter begin and the Goblin King rides abroad, searching for his bride…
All her life, Liesl has heard tales of the beautiful, dangerous Goblin King. They’ve enraptured her mind, her spirit, and inspired her musical compositions. Now eighteen and helping to run her family’s inn, Liesl can’t help but feel that her musical dreams and childhood fantasies are slipping away.
But when her own sister is taken by the Goblin King, Liesl has no choice but to journey to the Underground to save her. Drawn to the strange, captivating world she finds—and the mysterious man who rules it—she soon faces an impossible decision. And with time and the old laws working against her, Liesl must discover who she truly is before her fate is sealed.
Wintersong immediately reminded me of the vibes from Kingdom of Back. As someone who was always entranced by the “Goblin Market” poem by Christina Rosetti, this book was stunning. It’s a lyrical debut about the price of ambition for girls. About wanting more than we we have, more than what we have to accept. Struggling fires and dreams beating against steel caged bars. If you love the “Goblin Market” poem, historical fiction musical vibes, and ambitious girls, then you have to pick up Wintersong.
There’s a heavy atmosphere of fairy tales, danger, and doubled edged swords. Liesl is driven by her love of her family. The ways she has had to sacrifice her dreams, her future, for the well being of her family. At the same time, there’s this fragment of herself that wonders what it would be like to give in. To let the flames of her own creativity and ambition burn. To find someone who will challenge us, support us, and stoke our own genius instead of smothering it.
The two things that drew me to Wintersong, and kept me reading, were the atmosphere and Liesl’s ambition. Throughout the world of the book, there’s this concept of balance. Of give and take, sacrifices and negotiation. Vibes of Persephone, Red Riding Hood, Goblin deals, and more unfurl across the pages. Dreams full of fruit dripping with blood, glasses overflowing across the floors staining the carpets.
At the same time, Liesl is like a moth to a flame. Living life for others, what would it be like to act with abandon? Only after she is willing to give up herself for her family, and the world above, does she begin to realize she doesn’t really know who she is. Has been afraid of speaking aloud her dreams. Of seeing the words across the pages. When we have our dreams broken over and over again, we begin to dim our own light.
The romance in this story also examines the concept of love freely given. How sacrifices freely given always mean more. Are often more binding than chains. Love that beats against barred doors and shines through locked key holes is not what we mean when we talk about love. Wintersong illustrates that love is about choice. About nights with windows open.
Wintersong is descriptive and rich. Brimming with curled fog crawling across frosted dance floors, it is overflowing with atmosphere. A true product of fantasy, fairy tales, and folklore. Liesl’s story dares to ask what would happen if our dreams were given wings to fly. About a girl who has to figure out who she really is, what she could become. Find Wintersong on Goodreads, Amazon, Indiebound, Bookshop.org & The Book Depository.