Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones
Wintersong is a tale of self-sacrifice, discovery, and acceptance – wrapped up in a classic German folktale. The main character, Liesl, struggles to discover herself. She often forsakes her own passions, like composing music, and defines herself as who she is to others; protector of her sister, helper to her mother, and most strongly keeper of her brother. After she decides to sacrifice her life for her sister, she finally starts to look inward and discover who she truly is.
The story is filled with references to German folklore, which is refreshing in a genre that tends to focus on re-tellings of more mainstream fairytales. Wintersong is based on the legend of Erlking, and the poem turned ballad Der Erlkönig by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. I’ll admit that while some of the story felt familiar, I did have to read a number of Wikipedia articles to appreciate the full scope of cleverness in Jae-Jones’ writing. Der Erlkönig is translated as “Alder King” or “Elf King” who is described by the New Oxford American Dictionary as “a bearded giant or goblin who lures little children to the land of death.”
Overall, the story is clever and the writing is beautiful. However, at times I felt the description in the writing got a bit lengthy and there were some pacing issues in moving the plot along. There were times the story seemed to be stuck in one place for pages and pages, and times of intense action that I felt were too rapid to keep up.
In the book, The Goblin King lures young children with gifts and ripe, blood-red peaches. Additionally, much of the book is spent in the Underground, drinking Goblin wine and spinning wild into the untamed. So this red wine and peach sangria is the perfect pairing with which to lose yourself in the Lord of Mischief’s raw underworld.
Goodreads Synopsis: All her life, nineteen-year-old Liesl has heard tales of the beautiful, mysterious Goblin King. He is the Lord of Mischief, the Ruler Underground, and the muse around which her music is composed. Yet, as Liesl helps shoulder the burden of running her family’s inn, her dreams of composition and childish fancies about the Goblin King must be set aside in favor of more practical concerns.
But when her sister Käthe is taken by the goblins, Liesl journeys to their realm to rescue her sister and return her to the world above. The Goblin King agrees to let Käthe go—for a price. The life of a maiden must be given to the land, in accordance with the old laws. A life for a life, he says. Without sacrifice, nothing good can grow. Without death, there can be no rebirth. In exchange for her sister’s freedom, Liesl offers her hand in marriage to the Goblin King. He accepts.
Down in the Underground, Liesl discovers that the Goblin King still inspires her—musically, physically, emotionally. Yet even as her talent blossoms, Liesl’s life is slowly fading away, the price she paid for becoming the Goblin King’s bride. As the two of them grow closer, they must learn just what it is they are each willing to sacrifice: her life, her music, or the end of the world.
“‘A sparrow is beautiful in its own way,’ Käthe said severely. ‘Don’t force yourself to be a peacock, Liesl. Embrace your sparrow self.'” ― S. Jae-Jones,
Goblin Peach Sangria
- 1 bottle of your favorite red wine (I used a red blend)
- 1/2 cup of brandy
- 1/2 cup of apple juice
- 1 cup of lemonade
- 3 tablespoons of sugar (or more to taste)
- 4 sliced peaches
Combine ingredients in a pitcher. When ready to serve, pour over ice in a wine glass.