I wanted to like this book, really, I did. But I just couldn’t. There were so many trope faux pas, and not in a good way. Sometimes an author breaks a trope and its great, and refreshing, but not in this instance.
This book is quite hotly anticipated, but for me, it completely missed the boat.
To the author’s credit, I can see some beautiful writing in there, some of her descriptions are lovely, and I think, give her a bit more time and she will be a stunning author. But for me, this one didn’t hit the mark.
“All her life, Liesl has heard tales of the beautiful, dangerous Goblin King. They ve enraptured her spirit and inspired her musical compositions. Now eighteen, Liesl can’t help but feel that her musical dreams and childhood fantasies are slipping away. But when her sister is taken by the Goblin King, Liesl must journey to the Underground to save her. Drawn to the strange, captivating world she finds and the mysterious man who rules it she soon faces an impossible decision. With time and the old laws working against her, Liesl must discover who she truly is before her fate is sealed.”
The book was set in and around the German/Bavarian area what felt like a few hundred years ago, which meant quite a lot of the language was ‘old’. For me, it didn’t work, it made the prose stilted and often I didn’t understand what was going on because there weren’t always translations of the phrases. But this is personal preference and not something that detracts from the overall book.
The characters for me were bizarre. I had quite a lot of trouble differentiating at the start, but eventually, when Lisel went underground I adapted as the cast shrank.
The main character was unfortunately quite irritating. She placed a LOT of prominence on the fact she was ‘plain’ and ‘ugly’. One or two references would have been fine, but she went on, and on, and on, and on, and on to the point where I struggled to connect with her at all.
The method in which the Jae-Jones described her thoughts jarred me, the main character was all over the place. One minute she hated the Goblin King and his spiky teeth and skinny appearance, the very next sentence she wanted him. This switch happened a LOT. I didn’t connect to that. It was too changeable without enough justification on the characters part. I didn’t believe the romance at all.
The other thing I didn’t really connect to, was how she described the sex, it was a little too abstract for me. While I appreciate YA books don’t go there, there was something archaic about it. Some of the phrases made me cringe, ‘valley between her legs’ or something like that. I think YA sex is always better described through the emotion of the moment rather than the physicality.
There wasn’t much of one. I am not sure what the change was in the main character – sure ‘she found herself’ but is that it???? I still couldn’t tell you how she was different.
One of my biggest bugbears was the challenges the Goblin King set her. She had to complete three challenges, which she said were ‘hard, sister” but she seemed to complete them easy enough, and two were the same – ‘find her sister.’
The ending. *grits teeth* Jae-Jones committed one of the worst literary faux pas by not telling us something she had foreshadowed like Chekov’s Gun. We never learn the Goblin Kings name. WHAT THE FUDGING FUCKLE? Don’t do that. Seriously. Don’t. It’s not okay to leave the reader with that much of an unknown. I just felt unsatisfied.
Music – there were a lot of references to music, one of the key things she was doing was writing a movement of her life – but she never finished it. Annoying. That’s like leaving the story unfinished. Speaking of, the ending. Just no. The way it was left between them… three simple words and it would have been a beautiful ending, but no. I don’t get it.
It was slow. Like painfully slow, I just wanted it to end, but it went on and on. I didn’t enjoy it. I didn’t like the main character, I spent a lot of the book confused. I didn’t like the stilted language and I really did not like the ending. The description was beautiful for the most part, and you can tell the writer is talented, I just think she should have studied the YA genre a bit more to fit at least some of the tropes in there. Not sure I’d recommend this one.
My thanks to NetGalley and Thomas Dunne for the advanced copy.
Have you read the book? What did you think?
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