Hello, beautiful people!
Last week, I received an e-ARC of Shadowsong by S. Jae-Jones, the sequel to Wintersong and of course, I had to drop everything to read it. It only comes out in two weeks, but I decided to share my review with you today, so it might motivate you to pick up Wintersong if you haven’t yet and then to read that one when it’ll be released.
Shadowsong (Wintersong #2) by S. Jae-Jones
Published: February 6th 2018 by Wednesday Books
Genres: young adult, historical fiction, fantasy
Number of pages: 384
Goodreads summary: 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 Her younger brother Josef is cold, distant, and withdrawn, while Liesl can’t forget the austere young man she left beneath the earth, and the music he inspired in her.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?
You can read an excerpt for Shadowsong here.
Contents warnings for Shadowsong (included in the author’s note at the beginning of the novel) // self-harm, addiction, reckless behaviours, suicidal ideation, bipolar disorder
Disclaimer: I received this e-ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All the quotes used in this review might have changed in the finished copy.
When I started reading Wintersong last year, I had no idea it would end up being one of my favourite reads of 2017 and yet, it was exactly the book for me. Like I told you a few weeks ago, Shadowsong, its sequel, was one of my most anticipated releases of 2018 and I was over the moon when I got to read it early. I was a bit scared it wouldn’t live up to Wintersong, but it truly was amazing.
“You didn’t tell me living would be one decision after another, some easy, some difficult. You didn’t tell me living wasn’t a battle, but a war. You didn’t tell me that living was a choice, and that every day I choose to continue was another victory, another triumph.” (p.96)
I’ll say this straight away: Shadowsong is quite different from Wintersong, but it is still an amazing novel. I also have to say that this review will never do the book justice, but I had to stop writing at some point, or it would have been way too long. I just hope I will be able to make you eager to read this book and if you haven’t read Wintersong yet, you should check out my review of it.
From the very first lines, I fell in love with S. Jae-Jones’ beautiful and poetic writing once again. I absolutely loved that she used quotes from Beethoven to introduce the different parts of the novel, as well as the use of musical terms for some chapters. I felt like I was reading a fairy tale that had gone completely wrong. Some aspects of Shadowsong actually reminded me of Hades and Persephone, which is such an interesting arc to develop in fiction and that’s pretty much one of my weaknesses. Once again, the author incorporated elements of folklore into her story easily, even showing that some elements of folklore were common to different cultures and that this story, that was set in Austria, could have repercussions in the rest of the world, which was somehow quite realistic. Her world-building was once again compelling and I always needed more of it. This time, the novel wasn’t set much in the Underground, but I really loved seeing the world-building in our world.
Shadowsong picks up six months after the ending of Wintersong and from the very beginning, the author shows that her characters are in a completely different state of mind, that they’re completely lost within their own lives. In the background, we have glimpses of the upcoming plot, but some readers might feel like it will be a bit slow to start, because this story is as much about the consequences of the events of Wintersong as the characters finding themselves again. I didn’t mind at all, but I know it might bother some readers, so now you know. Shadowsong is a dark and twisted novel, plays with the boundaries between reality and delusion. In my opinion, Shadowsong was a slow-paced, atmospheric read I had no choice but to devour, because I couldn’t get enough of it. I read it in less than 24 hours, for I simply couldn’t stop myself.
While Wintersong explored Liesl and the Goblin King’s relationship, Shadowsong focused on her dynamics with her brother, Josef. [Warning for the Goblin King’s fans: you won’t see much of it in the novel, but I loved that the author went that way.] I have a weakness for family dynamics and S. Jae-Jones explored this one in a very realistic way: the characters don’t know each other anymore, they can’t get through the other and yet, they would do anything for each other. Liesl and Josef were far from perfect with each other, but their relationship rang true and this sibling relationship is something I definitely want to see more of in YA fiction.
“In the end, words had been insufficient. Music was the language my brother and I shared down to our bones. Melodies were our sentences, movements our paragraphs. We spoke best when we let our fingers do the talking – mine over my keyboard, his over the strings. It was in our playing, not my letters, that I could make Sepperl understand.” (p. 61)
One of my favourite aspects of the novel was definitely Liesl’s character development. At the beginning of Shadowsong, it might look like she finally has everything she ever wanted, yet she is completely lost within her own life, she doesn’t know who she is anymore, she even struggles to find motivation to get through every single day. It might not be easy to read at times, but as someone who has felt this way, I can tell you that the author did a fantastic job at putting those feelings into words and it made me relate to Liesl even more. For almost all of the novel, she was a broken character and I really loved that the author showed us that it’s okay not to be okay sometimes, but that we can still find ourselves, at some point. Liesl is such a strong character, loyal to her loved ones, trying to be someone and I really admire her for all of that. She might be one of the characters I relate to the most in YA literature. I will miss her so much, because following her journey truly was wonderful.
“As I turn to peer into each of the mirrors, I see a different facet of myself: the girl with music in her soul, the daughter, the friend, the sister. These are all parts of me, entire, yet, I did not know until this moment how I had fractured myself, unable to understand how to fit these pieces together into a whole.” (p. 354)
The last few chapters of the novel were absolutely spectacular, I was on the edge of my seat for the entire time, devouring words after words to know how the author would wrap everything up. I obviously can’t tell you much about that, but it was a very satisfactory conclusion to an amazing duology.
Overall, I absolutely adored Shadowsong. It was a dark, heart-wrenching story and I am so sad to say goodbye to those characters. This duology truly was made for me and I cannot wait to read what S. Jae-Jones will publish next. Sadly, I couldn’t write about all the aspects of the novel because it would be an essay and not a review, but I hope that what you just read convinced you to read Wintersong and Shadowsong.
Other quotes I adored:
“People don’t disappear, but their stories become forgotten,” he said in a soft voice. “It is only the faithful who remember.” (p. 53)
“Perhaps I love the monstrous because I was a monster.” (p. 261)
“You allowed me to forgive myself for being imperfect. For being a sinner. For being me.” (p. 356)
Thank you for reading,
Lots of love,