by S. Jae-Jones
Series: Wintersong #2
Published on February 6, 2018 by Wednesday Books
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
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 Her younger brother Josef is cold, distant, and withdrawn, while Liesl can’t forget the austere young man she left beneath the earth, and the music he inspired in her.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?
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After having mixed feelings about Wintersong, I was both excited and hesitant to read Shadowsong. I think I was hoping for the sequel to my dream version of the movie Labyrinth (where Sarah isn’t so young and shipping her with the Goblin King didn’t feel creepy). And I got my romance, but I’m really conflicted about this book.
Last time around, I enjoyed the lyrical writing style but the plot took a turn for the worse and I ended up feeling pretty meh about the whole thing. With Shadowsong, it was kind of the same thing. In some ways, I enjoyed this sequel more but then again. . . the plot felt like it was spinning in circles. Liesl escaped the Underground but it’s causing issues in the world above. That alone would have been enough in terms of a story for me. The conflict and how Liesl deals with it while being apart from her Goblin King. But then a secret organization and random flashbacks to introduce the Goblin King before he became that were thrown in and the story spun out of control.
It’s odd because I enjoyed some of the character development. I have a soft spot for the Goblin King but there wasn’t enough of him in this book. And the rest of the story focused on developing the characters while the plot provided filler. In short, Shadowsong was a fairly boring read. If the Goblin King had been more of a presence in this book, I think I would have enjoyed it more. His and Liesl’s relationship, the tension, the back-and-forth, that’s what hooked me in Wintersong. I’m a sucker for romance and when all else fails in a book, I can get behind it if I ship the characters.
With the two of them separated for the vast majority of Shdaowsong, I was left with beautiful, but ultimately dull writing. I wasn’t engaged. And part of that might have been due to the formatting of the eARC I had which made for disjointed reading but I tried to ignore that as much as possible. I just wasn’t invested. I’d read a chapter or two, put my Kindle down, pick it up later on, and so forth.
And yet. . . something caught my eye. I finished the book, after all. The ending wraps up everything nicely and I don’t feel cheated or shorted on a conclusion. Liesl and the Goblin King’s stories end. Everything with her family closes in a way that flows with the story. I appreciated the lack of a cliffhanger. I feel like so many stories want to leave something open in case they want to return to the world but as a reader, I can set this one down and that’s that. No spin-offs or companions (I hope).
If you enjoyed Wintersong for the writing, you’ll find the same lyrical style in Shadowsong though the story gets denser at times especially with the introspection of the characters. But if you’re looking for the conflicting romance, you may find this sequel disappointing. I think Shadowsong will appeal to certain readers but I can’t say I was overly impressed with this sequel or duology in general.