book reviews by Althea

Review: Wintersong

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Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It’s “Labyrinth” fan fiction. Your mileage may vary.
I am a huge, huge fan of Labyrinth; have been since I saw it in the theater… in some ways, the movie probably adjusted the direction of my life in ways that would be fairly significant down the road; so I’m giving out an extra star for that. S. Jae-Jones also captures the attitude of Bowie’s Goblin King perfectly; his dialogue was on the nose. Points for that.

However, the writing is not quite professional. The word “austere” does not mean quite what the author thinks it means, and it must’ve been used dozens of times.

I liked the setting, which brought something a bit original to the story. The girl that is wooed by the Goblin King here is Liesl, an 18th-century composer, frustrated in her creative efforts by the shadow of her brother. Her quest is to rescue her kidnapped sister. The sister aspect brings in Christina Rosetti’s ‘Goblin Market’ (explicitly quoted) but does not port over that poem’s nuances at all.

The first half of the story, which will feel quite familiar to fans of the movie, I really quite enjoyed. The second half, which in a wish-fulfillment-y way, gets Liesl together with her Goblin King, as she tries to figure out the curse under which he lives, was not nearly as successful for me. The pursuit is always more exciting than the quotidian drama of relationships, and the book brings in a back story that really drags it down, as well as a strong Christian theme which is totally out of place in Henson’s world of Faerie.

I ended up really rather surprised that this was picked up by a major publisher – but, if you’re a fan of Labyrinth, go ahead and check it out – it’ll give you some amusement, guaranteed.

Many thanks to St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for the opportunity to read. As always, my opinions are unaffected by the source of the book.

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