Shadowsong by S. Jae-Jones // Book review

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 Her younger brother Josef is cold, distant, and withdrawn, while Liesl can’t forget the austere young man she left beneath the earth, and the music he inspired in her.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 behaviourssuicidal 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 yetit was exactly the book for me. Like I told you a few weeks agoShadowsongits sequelwas 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,

Historical fantasy novels you should read for Halloween

Hello, beautiful people!

We are now more than halfway through October, which means that Halloween is right around the corner. I know that a lot of readers like to read specific books for that time of the year and well, that’s also my case. Personally, I absolutely love to read historical fantasy novels in the Fall (but it’s my favourite genre, so it actually happens all year) and that’s why I wanted to recommend you some in this post. Basically, if you love The Infernal Devices trilogy… All of these books are right up your alley!

I had no choice but to start this book recommendations post with my second favourite YA trilogy (that I really need to reread and to get physical copies of), Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard. I have to admit I was put off by this book for a very long time, because I knew it involved zombies and they freak me out. Now that I’ve said this, let me go back. This book is actually more about necromancy, which means someone is raising the Dead and it’s causing all sorts of mayhem.

Something Strange and Deadly is set in 1876 Philadelphia and follows Eleanor Fitt, who has to associate with the Spirit-Hunters to try to find her brother, who might have been taken by the person raising the Dead. Something Strange and Deadly is a trilogy and every single book is set in a different place, has amazing historical details and characters, as well as steampunk elements. It talks to my very soul. I’m completely in love with it and I need more people to read this trilogy! Susan Dennard is best-known for her best-selling fantasy her Witchlands series and while I adore that one, Something Strange and Deadly has a very special spot in my heart.

To know more about these books:

This Monstrous Thing by Mackenzi Lee

A lot of readers have already read The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by the same author that came out earlier this year, and it makes me very happy that Mackenzi Lee is getting the recognition she deserves, but did you know that I LOVED her debut novel that came out in 2015? It’s a steampunk novel set in 1818 Geneva and wait for it… It’s a reimagining of Frankenstein (just writing this, I’m sold and I’ve already read it)!

This Monstrous Thing follows Alasdair, a young man who lost everything two years prior the beginning of the novel, his brother and his sweetheart. In a city where men built with clockwork parts are a reality and illegal, he brings his brother back from the dead, who returns more monster than man. Then, Frankenstein comes out and the city is doing its best to find the real doctor and its monster.

To know more about this book:

The Cure for Dreaming by Cat Winters

Cat Winters is quite an amazing author, because out of the three books I’ve read by her… I have never been disappointed. She writes historical fiction set at the beginning of the 20th century with supernatural elements. I could recommend you In the Shadow of Blackbirds and The Steep and Thorny Way as well, but The Cure for Dreaming was the very first of her books that I read and it absolutely made me fall in love with her books.

The Cure for Dreaming is set in 1900 Oregon and follows Olivia, a headstrong girl that her father wishes to be docile. He hires a mysterious young man named Henri Reverie to hypnotize the rebellion out of her, but he gives her a terrible gift instead: she’s able to see people’s true natures, manifesting as visions of darkness and goodness, while also being unable to speak her true thoughts out loud. It only makes Olivia willing to speak up for women’s rights even more, all the while starting to be attracted to Henri.

To know more about this book:

The Diviners by Libba Bray

I reread The Diviners recently and I remembered what a perfect Halloween read this one was. It’s set in 1920s New York and follows Evie O’Neill, who has been expelled from her boring hometown to go live in New York with her uncle Will, who is obsessed with the occult. Evie has a secret of her own: she has trouble with a supernatural power and that’s why her parents shipped her off to the city (they don’t believe her, though). Soon, New York is trembling because of murders that might involve the occult. The Diviners follows s
everal other characters who seem to 
either have powers or secrets of their own, and all the while… something dark and evil has awakened.

I adore this series so much, even though it takes ages for a book to be published (but the third one just came out, we’re almost there!). However, it means that I can reread the books every time one is coming out. I find the 1920s and the occult absolutely fascinating, and Libba Bray is amazing at creating complex characters and gripping storylines. These books might seem a bit dense, but you won’t be able to put them down, because you’ll have to know what’s happening.

Last but not least, let’s talk about the book that actually inspired me to write this post, The Witches of New York by Ami McKay. This one is set in 1880 and follows three witches who practice their craft and work at their own tea shop. I had strong The Diviners vibes from this one, probably because it was set in New York in a society obsessed with the occult. 

This novel is a very atmospheric and engrossing read. I didn’t want to get away from the book when I was reading it, because I wanted to know what would be next. I adored all the historical aspects that Ami McKay put into this book, because I’m a history nerd and loved remembering some cultural details through this book (I’ll just say: tell the bees when I’m gone). It was one of those books that was perfect for me and it screams Halloween read. I’m so happy I got around that one.

To know more about this book:

So there you have it, here are the five historical fantasy novels (well, more than that because there are two book series in the list) that you could read near Halloween, if you’re in the mood for that genre. If you have more recommendations of historical fantasy novels/books to read for Halloween, please let me know.

Lots of love,