Monday, February 5, 2018

ARC Review: Shadowsong by S. Jae-Jones

Title: Shadowsong (Wintersong #2)
Author: S. Jae-Jones
Publication Date: February 6, 2018
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Pages: 384
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Review for book 1

//I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review//

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 Her younger brother Josef is cold, distant, and withdrawn, while Liesl can’t forget the austere young man she left beneath the earth, and the music he inspired in her.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?

Wintersong was my one of my top two favorite books of 2017, so it should be obvious why Shadowsong was my most anticipated of this year. Wintersong was just the right amount of fantasy and darkness and romance and magic. I loved Liesl and I loved the Goblin King and I loved the relationship that grew between them. I loved the Underground and the music. Basically, I loved all the things that Shadowsong is missing.

Shadowsong picks up after Liesl's return to the world above, her Goblin King left in the Underground. She pines for him and fights with herself over whether she is happy back in her old life. In this book, Liesl is a much different character. The book begins with a note from the author, explaining that this is an Own Voices book, that the MC is bipolar, and that Shadowsong will embrace this more fully than Wintersong.

We got to know Liesl in Wintersong. A story unfolded, a relationship grew between two incredible characters. The world was rich and didn't lack anything, in my opinion. In Shadowsong, most of what was set up in Wintersong is left behind so that we can explore Liesl's personal struggles. I understand that this is the character and it's perhaps important to her growth, but this is the second book in a duology. I wanted to continue the story from the first book, learn more about Liesl and her relationship with the Goblin King, not spend the entire story wondering if things were actually real or imagined.

I fully understand the need for books that explore mental health and I get why S. Jae-Jones wanted to write an Own Voices book. I know that this is important, I just wish it had been done in a separate series. Instead, Shadowsong feels so far removed from the world of the first book that it might as well have been a different series anyway.

Where Wintersong was all about Liesl embracing her new role, her whole self, and the Underground, Shadowsong had her constantly questioning everything, running, and hiding. The entire story consisted of day to day activities between a few different locations, none of which involved the Goblin King. There was an interesting dynamic between Liesl and Josef, but even that became tedious and boring after awhile. Other characters were there for awhile and then forgotten, and if you're coming for the Goblin King, don't bother. There were glimpses of him here and there throughout the book, but I'd estimate that he got about 30 pages of this nearly 400 page book. There is no romance, no Underground, and very, very little music. What I'm trying to tell you is this book is NOTHING like Wintersong at all.

I believe Wintersong was originally a standalone novel that was later turned into a duology (correct me if I'm wrong). In my opinion, it should be read as a standalone. Shadowsong honestly reads like a second book in a trilogy. If it absolutely had to be a series and all the filler from this book absolutely had to be in the story, I strongly believe that the last 40 pages should've been left off and turned into a third book to end the series. As it stands, the last 40 pages could've been written as a novella and it would've made a better ending.

I know you're thinking I must hate this book, but I don't HATE it, I'm just extremely disappointed. I wanted more of the magic of Wintersong and what I got was... not that. The ending was satisfying and that's the only reason I'm not giving this one star. I honestly cannot recommend it though, especially to anyone who loved Wintersong for the romance or the Goblin King.