I’ve been very disappointed with the books I’ve been reading lately, mainly because my expectations got too high and then the books just fell short. I had high expectations with Winterson but I tried not to get my hopes up, but man this book was AMAZING!! This book is such a beautiful read and very transportive. This book felt incredibly unique and was very dark and eerie, which I loved. 4/5 stars!
Synopsis: Nineteen-year-old Liesl has always felt overshadowed by her siblings. Her younger sister, Kathe, is the beautiful one, set up for a well-to-do marriage. Her younger brother is a talented musician preparing for a prestigious apprenticeship. Lisel helps her mother with their family run Inn and fusses over her siblings while taking almost no time for herself. What Lisel truly loves is composing, but she feels she can never truly get the recognition she deserves when people only have eye’s for her younger brother’s talent. Lisel’s best memories are from when she and her brother danced and played music with the Goblin King when they were children. But as Lisel grew up, she turned away from the Goblin King, forgetting a promise she made to him as a girl, and she puts goblins and magic from her mind, trying to focus on the life she has now. But the Goblin King is the Lord of Mischief, the Ruler Underground, and the muse around which her music is composed. He cannot be easily forgotten. But when Kathe is taken by the goblins, Liesl travels to the Underground, land of the goblins, to rescue her sister and return her to the world above. The Goblin King agrees to let Kathe go, if Liesl can win the game he has in place. If Liesl wins, Kathe returns to the world above. If not, he will claim Liesl as his wife. Liesl soon learns that there is much more at stake than just her or her sister’s life– the whole world could be forfit. Liesl has to choose what she is willing to give up, her life, her music, the Goblin King, or the entire world.
The writing in this novel is GORGEOUS and just so prosey/flowy which is my favorite kind of writing. I also loved the element of music, and not just playing music! I’ve never come across a main character that composes music instead of playing the violin or piano, and I found it very refreshing.
I also really enjoyed reading from Liesl’s perspective. She definitely was not a generic YA heroine! She’s not beautiful (and her main love interest actually admits that she is not beautiful, but is so much more than just her physical appearance, and I thought that was really interesting/unique. Most YA heroines feel ugly but are actually beautiful, and just need a male character to “validate” them and call them beautiful which gets SO old and just bleh. Like first of all you don’t need a man’s validation and second not all ya heroines need to be pretty?) AND THERE IS NO MAGICAL MAKEOVER. PRAISE.
Also, Liesl is far from a perfect narrator or character. I thought she had a lot of flaws, but I was blown away by how open the author was about it. Usually I find female characters to be “too perfect” and I liked that Liesl got angry, and made bad decisions, and thought that she really wanted to have sex (when actually she probably didn’t and she just thought it would solve all her problems) and I just really enjoyed her. Just a sidenote here, a character can be flawed and it doesn’t necessarily mean the author is a bad writer. Maybe the author wanted their character to have flaws?? Maybe they wanted the reader to pick up on those bad decisions?? Just a thought.
Can we just talk about the fact that there are hot goblins in this book? Not creepy ugly goblins? I’m 1000% for hot goblin fey creatures.
However, I did find the Goblin King and Liesl’s relationship to be a bit off… Like it made me uncomfortable that they both were having sex to release their frustration and not because they loved each other. I also thought they were kind of toxic for each other, though they did understand each other “musically” if that makes sense. I felt like they were only together because they both understood each others love for music. I was not invested in their romantic relationship at all, and I kind of wish they had been friends. Or if not friends at least had a more healthy relationship. I saw one review on goodreads that said “It was confusing to me that this married couple has “partial sex” a few times but always in a negative connotation. I have heard that this was originally intended as an adult standalone fantasy that was heavily graphic in the romance department, but that all those scenes were removed to make this a YA novel, which may explain the awkward flow here.” and that clears things up for me a bit. This book did NOT seem YA to me at all, and I wish the author had kept it adult, kept the sex scenes and gone a bit darker into the story. But it still killed the YA game.
This book is really sinister and I loved the darker elements. It’s creepy! The goblins are hot but actually are covering themselves with glamour, their are changlings who want to trick humans, and wishes that have incredible power. I also want to know more about the goblin king (and his name??? UGH killing me!!) This book was just full of twists and trickery and I loved loved loved it. Again, the characters are flawed, but that’s the point. This book is dark, the characters are dark, and again, it was such a unique read! I cannot WAIT for the second one and hope it’s even better than the first!!