Posted in Book Review

Shadowsong by S. Jae-Jones

Read Dates: January 18, 2022 – January 23, 2022
Publication Date: February 6, 2018
Source: owned hardback

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From Goodreads:
Six months after the end of Wintersong, Liesl is working toward furthering both her brother’s and her own musical careers. Although she is determined to look forward and not behind, life in the world above is not as easy as Liesl had hoped. Her younger brother Josef is cold, distant, and withdrawn, while Liesl can’t forget the austere young man she left beneath the earth, and the music he inspired in her.

When troubling signs arise that the barrier between worlds is crumbling, Liesl must return to the Underground to unravel the mystery of life, death, and the Goblin King—who he was, who he is, and who he will be. What will it take to break the old laws once and for all? What is the true meaning of sacrifice when the fate of the world—or the ones Liesl loves—is in her hands?

Alright… bear with me because, even though I’ve slept on it and it’s been two days, my thoughts on this book are still all over the place. One thing I can tell you for sure, though, is that two days later, this book has no special place in my heart or my head. It just was. It used to be. I read it and now I’m done with it.

They say the Hunt rides abroad when there is an imbalance between the Underground and the land of the living.

Alright so, Wintersong. I really did enjoy Wintersong! It was enjoyable and I was fangirling at the references and nods to the movie Labyrinth. When I finished Wintersong, I immediately went to Amazon and ordered the second book. I wanted, nay, NEEDED to know what was going to happen with the Goblin King and Liesl. But what I got from this book just wasn’t fulfilling.

So, it’s been half a year, and Liesl has abandoned music and is pouring herself into work at the Inn. The synopsis up there, yea, not correct. The girl hasn’t touched music since Wintersong. She refuses to. She “can’t”. Even though she promised the Goblin King she was going to play her song for him so he would hear and remember her and he could hold onto his humanity and whatever. But no. This character who changed SO MUCH in Wintersong has reverted right back as if the first book never even happened. Even the second part of the synopsis… Liesl doesn’t find her way back to the Underground until the very end! It makes it sound like she’s back in the Underground for a majority of the book but she’s not. Not at all! She doesn’t even try until almost the very end.

“Ah,” she said softly, “but what’s the use of running” – she lifted her eyes to mine – “if you are on the wrong road?”

The beginning of the book is a series of letters Liesl has written to her brother that have gone unanswered. But there isn’t really any investigation there either. Liesl doesn’t think to find a way to investigate her brother’s well-being. Not until a letter is received asking Liesl to come to Vienna and it appears to be in Josef’s handwriting. So it takes a frantic cryptic letter to get her to worry enough to investigate her brother’s well-being. Except… she STILL doesn’t! The letter gets talked about and ultimately thrown off to the side. It’s not until ANOTHER letter comes from a well-to-do individual who claims they are sheltering Josef and offers the money and means of travel to get Liesl and her sister to Vienna to join them. Now, finally, Liesl is heading to her brother. But, still, it feels like the pleading letter is completely forgotten. It’s not even mentioned when they get there! That’s the first inconsistency I’m going to mention.

Another thing that I can’t really go into too much detail about without giving things away, is a couple of characters that get introduced. Like, why? Thinking back, they didn’t have much of a purpose. They didn’t do anything significant. They didn’t drop any bombs. THe didn’t help. They didn’t hinder. They were just there.

Oh! Oh! Not to mention, Constanze, the grandmother. She starts talking all crazy calling Liesl and Kathe by her sister’s names and it turns out that was basically pointless too. It didn’t really go anywhere. I was thinking “Ooo. I bet that’s significant somehow.” Meh. Not really.

There just weren’t any exciting or “ah-ha!” moments in this book. I wasn’t really wow’ed. I suppose the end was kind of exciting. I just, I don’t know, I wasn’t impressed. There were inconsistencies, there was filler content, or what I felt was filler content. I just feel like the two books could have been condensed into one really awesome book.

My final complaint is The Goblin King. He was barely in it! Yes, we got his back story and that was cool but we hardly got any time with him in the state he’s in now. I felt like I didn’t know him anymore by the time we got to the end of the book. Which kind of made the end of the book fall flat for me.

He reaches out for her one last time, pressing his name onto her heart.
Keep me safe, he thinks. Keep me human. Keep me whole.
And then he is gone.

This wasn’t a love story about Liesl and The Goblin King, this was a love story about Liesl and her brother Josef. Which is fine, but, that wasn’t what I signed up for. I was in this story for the Goblin King and, honestly, that’s probably on me for having expectations going in. I’m just feeling a bit betrayed by this synopsis that is completely misleading and the story that felt like one of those movies that feels like it’s 4 hours long because of how much content there is that is just boring and doesn’t seem to matter in the grand scheme of things. The one where you keep checking your watch and marveling at how it’s only been half an hour and you just wish things would either get better or just hurry along.

I will say, I did enjoy the way this book was written. I enjoyed the first one for the same reason. It’s sort of poetic and old-timey and it was really fun to read. Well… Until it wasn’t. There were a lot of times something was said either in German or French or Latin and there was no explanation as to what it meant. That was a bit annoying.

Anyway, this one just wasn’t for me. I’m really disappointed and I am off to find more Labyrinth-inspired stories. I feel unfulfilled. I feel like I HAVE to find another series now to fill the hole that was just left in me from reading this duology.

Now I always say this, and this book is no exception but… there’s a chance you’ll love it! There are people who do! I just didn’t. So if what I’ve described intrigues you, by all means, go read it! It’s definitely a cool world S. Jae-Jones has built.

✌💛

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