Book: “Shadowsong” by S. Jae-Jones
Publishing Info: Wednesday Books, February 2018
Where Did I Get this Book: ARC from the publisher
Book Description: 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 Her younger brother Josef is cold, distant, and withdrawn, while Liesl can’t forget the austere young man she left beneath the earth, and the music he inspired in her.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?
Previously Reviewed: “Wintersong”
Review: I’ll be honest, the only reason I decided to pick this series back up after my lackluster response to “Wintersong” was the fact that the publisher was kind enough to send me an ARC. But, while I still didn’t love this series as much as others have, this book was an improvement on the first, and I found myself enjoying more of it as I went along. As a whole, I can also see why this duology is as popular as it is, even if it wasn’t my cup of tea.
Set six months after the events of the first book, Liesl is trying to set her mind and action on her and her brother’s music. But this is easier said than done and she can never quite shake the memory of her time spent below with the enigmatic Goblin King. Shocking no reader ever, events occur that once again lead Liesl down into the Underground and back into the presence of the Goblin King. Now the stakes are even higher, and Liesl must once again try to puzzle out the truth of her mysterious beau.
First off, I have to give props to the designer of the cover art for both this book and “Wintersong.” Both of these covers are gorgeous, and these are exactly the types of covers that would stop me short in a bookstore and get me to pick up a book. So well done on that front!
As I said, I did end up enjoying this book more than the first and I think this largely has to do with my connecting to the darker tone and topic that was introduced in this book. I still have an ongoing issue with the writing style which I find to be overly dramatic and taking itself too seriously, but at least here, in this book, that style of writing seems to better fit with the tale that is being told. The events and themes are dark and dramatic, so a verging-on-melodramatic tone doesn’t grate up against the story that is being told, but instead can work to support it.
I also appreciated the shift in focus that this book takes, away from Liesl’s relationship with the Golblin King and towards her relationship with her brother. I love a romance as much as the next person (perhaps more, if I’m honest), but these two’s romance wasn’t something I loved the first go around, so for me, a shift to a sibling relationship, something that I often adore in my books, was a welcome surprise. I especially liked the complications in their relationship, the fact that while they could not particularly like each other at times, they were still willing to sacrifice whatever was necessary on the other’s behalf it if was necessary.
However, I still felt that the story moved too slowly, dragging at point. And this was made worse by the lengthy time spent in Liesl’s head as she pined over the Goblin King. But the world building was excellent, and, again, I felt that the author was better able to leverage her strengths in this area this time around to balance out portions of the story that didn’t connect with me as much. There were some nice subtle touches with reoccurring elements throughout the book that did help bring the story to another level.
In the end, I have mixed feelings about this book. For me, it is definitely an improvement on the first story, dealing more fully with some tough subjects, creating a more consistent storyline, and shifting the focus off the romance and onto a sibling relationship. However, some of the issues I had with the writing style are still there, but I know that this is a very preferential opinion and that others enjoy this type of writing more than I do. There’s also the fact that because the story is a departure from the first, I’m not sure how it will be received? Will others who didn’t enjoy the first also find themselves liking this one more because of the changes (will they even read it if they didn’t enjoy the first)? Or will readers who loved the first one be turned off by the shifts in this story? I’m not sure!
But you can decide for yourself because I’m giving away a copy of “Shadowsong!” The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only, and will be running until January 31st!
Click here to enter!
Rating 6: A welcome change for a reader who didn’t love the first book. A darker and more serious story that better matches the dramatic style of writing.
“Shadowsong” is a newer book so isn’t on any relevant Goodreads lists, but it should be on “Best Goblin Books.”
Find “Shadowsong” at your library using WorldCat!
9 thoughts on “Serena’s Review & Giveaway: “Shadowsong””
Serena, to say you and Kate are on my bandwidth would be an understatement. Something I would love – the @LibraryLadiesMN blogging about indies and libraries. There’s an element of selfish in this. I have writing friends who are self-publishing and asking about their future in the hallowed halls. (As a frequent flyer of our amazing statewide library system, my local and MNLink Gateway are on my top toolbar.)
Your amazing box of Fantasy books just arrived. Best present ever-ah! But the greed it inspired made me realize how library addicted I am. How picky I am about the quality of writing I’ll read. And my love of the book in hand.
The online crit group I run of SFF writers have some pretty awesome indies. But I keep asking myself, am I willing to trade freedom for having my work in libraries?
This is a topic dear to the heart of all writers and were you to share your insights, we’d listen.
(BTW, the Rafflecopter link isn’t working.)
Tossing imaginary rose petals in the air, singing, “Got books!”
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Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this! It’s a really interesting idea that I know that I never have really thought deeply about myself.
I’ve only begun to read and know more about the indie writing world after starting this blog, so it’s been incredible to see the talent of authors who are self-published. My off the cuff response (and obviously super biased!) is that libraries ARE freedom. Libraries, unlike bookstores, aren’t out to target the “hip” new reader groups, whomever is spending more money on books at the time and then catering to this group’s reading preferences. As we librarians like to quote, “Every book its reader and every reader their book.” Unfortunately, all too often libraries must still rely on traditional publishers as the gatekeeper to their content, and I think that is where the wall lies between indies and library access. But I imagine that indie authors and librarians have a similar opinion on that wall. I’m almost positive that if you polled librarians, they would see this reliance only on traditional publishers as a limitation on readers and open access.
I’m going to keep thinking about this and maybe Kate and I can write up a post on this topic sometime soon! Thanks for bring it up!
Also, I checked the Rafflecopter link and did a test entry and it looks to be now working. Hopefully it works for you! Let me know if you still have problems! – S
You make me so happy! Anything I can do to help, in way, just let me know. And yes, the Rafflecopter working now.
I am also going to think about this question. I think I have some ideas, or at the very least some resources, that I’ve been in tune with re: indie writers and library access. But yes, this is a very interesting and pretty relevant topic as well, so let me and Serena reconvene and discuss and maybe we can give our thoughts in the near future! -k
Yay, Kate. You two rock!
I really enjoyed The Girl in the Tower a lot more than The Bear and the Nightingale. I felt like the first book was a little too slow for my taste, but the sequel was amazing!
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Ohh, nice choice! While I liked the first one, I agree that the faster pace of the second made it more enjoyable. Plus, there was more of her talking horse which is always a plus! – S
The first book was such a pleasant surprise for me, so I hope I like the sequel. Though I have heard they do feel quite different, I’m excited to read it.
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Yeah, it is. But I think if you like the author’s style of writing particularly, then you’ll like this one, too, even if she’s shifted the focus a bit. – S
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