Summary from NetGalley:
Deep in his terrifying realm underground, the cold and forbidding Goblin King casts a dark shadow over nineteen-year-old Liesl. Her grandmother has always warned her to follow the old laws, for every year on the longest night of winter, she claims, the Goblin King will emerge into the waking world in search of his eternal bride. Sensible and plain, Liesl knows it’s her duty to keep her beautiful sister Käthe safe from harm. But Liesl finds refuge only in her wild, captivating music, composed in secret in honor of the mysterious Goblin King.
When Käthe is stolen by the Goblin King, Liesl knows she must set aside her childish fantasies to journey to the Underground and save her. Drawn despite herself to the strange, beautiful world she finds—and the mysterious man who rules it—she finds herself facing an impossible choice. With time and the old laws working against her, Liesl must discover who she truly is before her fate is sealed.
Set at the turn of the 19th century, when young upstart composers like Beethoven were forever altering the sound of music, S. Jae-Jones’ richly imagined debut spins a spellbinding tale of music, love, sisterhood, and a young woman’s search for self-actualization.
Reviewed from a copy received from Netgalley.
I really wanted to love this book. SO many people were saying how fantastic it was months before it was published. Authors I like were giving it high praise as well. I did like it but I just never really connected to it in the way that I thought I would.
I liked the characters well enough. I thought Liesl was very likable, even though I found her irritating at times. I always like characters that go against the societal norms of the time period the book is set in. Liesl is strong at times and vulnerable at others, and I think it was this switching back and forth that made it hard for me to engage with her. I was really pleased by the Goblin King. He was very enigmatic, which I like in characters. Even though I usually prefer a singular point of view in my books, I think this story would have been better if it was told by both Liesl and the Goblin King. I think I would have enjoyed the story and the ending more if I understood better his motivations.
The setting of the story was satisfactory. It was creepy and the other goblins, creatures and changelings, Liesl encounters on her journey were exceptionally creepy. The book is suppose to be a retelling of the movie Labyrinth, which I’ve never seen so I can’t speak to that, but I was able to visualize the underground world the author created here.
The length of the book troubled me as well. I think it could have easily been two books and then the ending could have been less abrupt maybe. Also, more interactions between Liesl and her family at the beginning of the story would have helped me to understand her and her motivations better.
Overall, I enjoyed the story. The plot was interesting, but at times it was a bit slow and repetitious, too much agonizing over the same things all of the time.
This is the first book by this author, and although I didn’t love this book as much as I felt I should have, I will still recommend it to friends. I will also pick up other books by this author when they come out, as I did like her style of writing.