Note: This book is the sequel to Wintersong, which you can find my review here! There will be minor spoilers in this review.
WHAT A SEQUEL. Seriously, Shadowsong is everything I wanted after that cliffhanger in Wintersong and more. The ending was absolutely fantastic, and I reread it multiple times just this past week before I could muster up the energy to write this review. That’s right – this book left me emotionally drained in the BEST of ways. We delve deeper into the darks of Liesl’s mind and her relationship between her and her brother, and her and the Goblin King. There is less of an emphasis of the romance like in the previous book, and more of an emphasis on Liesl’s growth and her love for her brother. Also, shout out to Jae-Jones for the content warnings at the beginning of the book.
“Sometimes, I fear there is a maelstrom swirling within me. Madness, mania, melancholy. Music, magic, memories. A vortex, spinning around a truth I do not want to admit.”
Liesl is a character whose mind is very intense and we really get to see inside her head in Shadowsong. This book is #ownvoices for bipolar disorder, and Jae-Jones writes that in exceptionally through Liesl’s voice. Now that Liesl has left the Underground, she’s taking care of her family and wondering about Josef, who went to Vienna to continue his music studies and performance. When Josef sends an ominous letter telling her to come to Vienna, and she gets a mysterious benefactor to go over there and perform, she leaves her small town and the Underground… or does she?
While Liesl is above ground, the Goblin King is becoming less and less like himself. Her benefactors are keeping something from her, and Josef is reticent and withdrawn. Even though Liesl and Josef reunite, he’s in a depression that keeps him quiet and moody. Their relationship went through so much in this duology, and Liesl trying to mend their broken tie is so heart-aching in this book. It was definitely a growth from both of them, however, as they find the path to each other again.
“‘Madness is not a gift,’ I said angrily.
‘Nor is it a curse,’ the Count returned gently.
‘Madness simply is.’”
The side plot of the Wild Hunt was a bit confusing for me, and probably the weakest part of the story. While the characterizations were phenomenal and heartbreaking, the plot was on the dull side because readers never get a feeling of fear for the Wild Hunt. It’s just… there, and moving the plot along. Jae-Jones continues to write gorgeous prose (the parts where Liesl and Josef are playing their respective instruments just makes me clench my heart) as her characters explore their music and their hearts. It’s definitely a slow pace, and readers shouldn’t expect anything as spicy as Wintersong going in.
Speaking of spiciness… the Goblin King is notably absent from this book. While book 1 focuses on Liesl and the Goblin’s King relationship (yum), book 2 is more about Liesl and Josef, the brother-sister dynamic that holds true no matter how far they’re apart. However, we do get to see the background of the Goblin King and uncover all the mysteries surrounding him that continues from the first book. And oh my goodness – it is SO. GOOD. I don’t know how this author does it, but she wraps the book up in a way where the resolution is stunning and you’re left aching but so, SO content.
“You are the monster I claim, mein Herr.”
The Wintersong duology: it’s classically stunning, features vivid music and imagery, and depicts superb and realistic characterizations in a fantasy plot. Maybe the plot won’t be for some people (which I sometimes see in low ratings) because it’s so very slow, but I couldn’t care less because of the introspection we had with the characters. I seriously can’t wait to read what Jae-Jones comes out with next, because I’m for sure going to be picking it up.
self harm, addiction, suicidal thoughts, reckless behavior, depression
Thank you Netgalley and St. Martin’s Press for the review copy!
S. Jae-Jones, called JJ, is an artist, an adrenaline junkie, and the NYT bestselling author of Wintersong.
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.