Wintersong by S Jae Jones A Book Review #Tuesdaybookblog

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. 

Amazon Blurb

“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.”

Due for release 7th February. Buy from: AmazonUK, AmazonUSA

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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  1. This is the way to write a negative review, with details that offer suggestions for the author to improve the book. Hopefully, the author will take your review with that in mind and think about it. If open to what I call positive criticism, the author could return to revise and improve. This is how I taught my English students to critique each others work. Make sure to point out anything you liked and what you think could be improved.

    1. I am glad you see it that way, because I felt so bad. But in my mind there are obvious things she could have done to improve it. Sigh.

      1. I just checked Amazon to see what other reviewers had to say and the book doesn’t have even one review there yet. This is the author’s first book and it is being published by one of the major traditional publishers. The release date is February 7, 2017, next Tuesday. Maybe there are reviews but Amazon won’t post them until the release date.

        Now, on Goodreads, the book has 345 reviews (but on Goodreads you never know of the review was written by someone who actually read the book). How does a book get that many reviews before it has been released? Almost 30 percent are negative reviews (Amazon lists 3-star reviews as negative. Goodreads doesn’t appear to do the same thing even though it also belongs to Amazon.) These ratings and reviews must have been from advanced copies or an advanced galley proof. It’s possible that the final product might have been revised before the actual release date. Advanced copies of alley proofs used for review purposes usually haven’t gone through a final edit and revision.

        Macmillan’s Thomas Diunne Books imprint published the book. That means the author had a team of editors who should have gone through the book in detail.

        Here’s the author’s website. Her bio is short and doesn’t reveal much about who she really is.

        1. Okay, so I read the book before it was released through NetGalley, most of the books I am reading at the moment are advanced reader copies. They do stipulate that the copies might have mistakes in them, but those mistakes are about proofing, not story content. I don’t believe they upload the books to NetGalley before the developmental work is done – why would you? Too expensive and too much of a risk of shit reviews.

          They tend to put them up pre-release so that they do start to accrue reviews, ready for publication. I’ll pay through the nose for the same privilege if I can get in with NetGalley.

          As a reviewer for NetGalley, I know that because I get the book before it’s released, I can’t actually leave a review anywhere other than my blog or on Goodreads. You can put a book up on Goodreads before it’s released (I have both mine up already) but you can’t leave a review on Amazon until it has been published (9 times out of 10) there have been the occasional ones I’ve been able to leave reviews for, but I never understand why that is. I have to go back and check I’ve posted reviews on Amazon when I remember (after their publication) it’s bloody annoying.

          Anyway, I hope that helps explain?

          1. Complicated question, because it depends on your results. If you have a good cover I suspect it will be more worth it than someone Sioux a good cover. Hate to say it but when I choose books on there, I shop by genre, then cover/ title, then I look at the blurb. If that’s good then I request it. So I would say if u had a good set of them then yeah. But I haven’t done the research to know what the results are like. I’m going to give it a go I know that much, but it I’ll be a big expenditure for reviews – nothing else really – unless they like my book enough to then go get the second third etc etc. What do you think?

          2. It all depends on your budget. If you have the extra money, then it is worth finding out. After all, a BookBub ad can cost more than joining Net Galley, if BookBub will say yes to run an ad for a book. I’ve been accepted three times and turned down three times by BookBub. I haven’t submitted an ad request to Book Bub for a couple of years now but I plan to soon.

            And I even paid about $400 for a BookBub ad to give away my first book with no way to make that money back. That resulted in about 40,000 copies being downloaded and the Amazon reviews for that book almost tripped after the giveaway with 80-percent of the reviews 4 or 5 stars.

            It doesn’t cost anything to submit to BookBub. It only hurts after they say yes and then you hold your breath hoping it pays off with positive reviews and/or enough sales to earn the cost of the ad back and make a profit, and that did happen for the first two ads I ran with BookBub for $0.99 cent sales.

          3. Exactly. Before I even attempt bookbub (what with all the competition now and the reports from Author Earnings showing the reduction in indies being accepted) I’m going to make sure I have some reviews to better the chance of being accepted.

            It depends on goal too – do you wana sell books or get reviews? Which method is better? I don’t know.

            Also I want to try Amazon ads before bookbub. I suspect they will be the new kings of book advertising before too long. Tbf I’m willing to try it all to see what works. Just got to save a bit ?

  2. I’ve read another review of this book where the reviewer said much the same. Is it a trad pubbed book? I can’t say there is anything about it which would atract me, and that’s before I even read any reviews. Shame.

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