I read Wintersong for the first time last year, and I reeeeeally wanted to like it. But something just didn’t connect for me, and I honestly wasn’t sure what it was. 🙁 Since I read it during a period of time when I was busier and more stressed than usual, I wondered if it was a “right book at the wrong time” kind of thing. I’m definitely more of a mood reader, and this is partly why I have such a hard time sticking to a firm TBR every month.
With the release of Shadowsong, the conclusion to the duology, I decided to give Wintersong another try and then jump right into the next book. Again, I really wanted to like it, but I found myself feeling the same way I did when I first read it. And despite seeing many positive reviews for Shadowsong — including assertions that it was better than the first book — I felt torn by the time I finished it. With both books, there were aspects I enjoyed, but I couldn’t shake off this feeling of being disconnected from the world, or disengaged from what was happening in the story. 😞 Because I felt so similarly about both books, I decided to review both at the same time.
If you’re not sure what Wintersong is about, click here for a short synopsis. (I wouldn’t suggest reading the synopsis for Shadowsong unless you’ve already read the first book, but you can find one here.)
What I Liked:
- Jones is a strong writer, and I was drawn to her lovely, lyrical prose. Her descriptions, in particular, are so memorable and vivid, I would find myself returning to them again and again. One example is the scene in the first book where Käthe eats the peach given to her by the goblin men at the market.
- I was intrigued by Liesl, and I think her transformation by the end of Shadowsong is earned. We see the light and dark of her, the best and worst, and she is what binds these two stories together.
- These books bring together the story of the Goblin King with the classic Greek myth of Persephone and Hades, along with as a few other magical elements. (FYI: Don’t expect this to be a Labyrinth retelling, because you’ll be disappointed.) I think they worked well together to create something entrancing and hard to forget.
What I Disliked:
- As much as I enjoyed the lyrical quality of the writing, I occasionally found it difficult to focus on what I was reading. Some scenes would drag on for a long time, and these slowed down my reading considerably. I absolutely think some parts of each book could have been considerably shorter, and this would have helped with the pacing.
- I feel like I’m in the minority here, but… *deep breath* I wasn’t a huge fan of the Goblin King. 😐 I KNOW, I KNOW. But yep… He just didn’t do anything for me, and I couldn’t seem to bring myself to care much about him.
- Actually, aside from Liesl, it’s hard for me to name another character that I felt truly invested in.
- Although I will admit that the conclusion of Shadowsong tied everything together rather nicely, I STILL DIDN’T CARE VERY MUCH? I DON’T KNOW WHY? 🙃
I think it’s fair to say that I have some complicated feelings about this duology. Is it worth a read? Sure! I’m never going to dissuade anyone from reading a book or series that sounds interesting to them. Personally, it wasn’t one of my favorites, and it didn’t live up to the hype. But I know lots of people love both books, and one of those people might be you!
Wintersong Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️
Shadowsong Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️
About the Author: S. Jae-Jones
As you can probably guess, I’m doing a TERRIBLE job of sticking to this month’s TBR. I’ve read a grand total of two of the seven books I picked out for this month. But I’ve read other books, too, so I guess that’s still good…? 😂 I’m planning on posting a review of Dhonielle Clayton’s The Belles in the next few days, as well as a review of Becky Albertalli’s Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda. If you want to see what I’ve been reading instead of my TBR picks, head on over to my Goodreads page!