Oh my gosh! Happy book birthday to S. Jae-Jones!! I’m super excited to be able to participate in the blog tour for Shadowsong! I devoured the first book in this series, Wintersong, in a single day and when I got the opportunity to be part of the blog tour for this sequel, I jumped at the chance! (You can check out my full review of Wintersong here if you’d like, but you might want to wait until after this post!) Stick around through this post for a few of my favourite excerpts, my full review of Shadowsong, and an awesome giveaway! But first, let’s have a look at what Shadowsong is about!
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 Her younger brother Josef is cold, distant, and withdrawn, while Liesl can’t forget the austere young man she left beneath the earth, and the music he inspired in her.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?
With a Goodreads synopsis like that, how could I not be psyched to read it?! (Yes, that was rhetorical. I was beyond psyched to read it.)
These excerpts are taken from the digital galley and may be changed in the finished publication.
The ring was a symbol of the Goblin King’s power, but more than that, it was a promise that his love was greater than the old laws. One could not place a price on a promise.
There was a part of me that wished I could confess and confide everything to her. How I hadn’t played or composed in an age because I was unable to face the enormous effort it would take to sit, to work, to labor. Because whenever I worked on my magnum opus, I felt another’s presence beside me–his touch, his his, his caress. Because I was afraid she wouldn’t believe me; or worse, that she would.
I had tried so long and so hard to move on that I was afraid of returning to the places where his ghost still lingered. To return to the Goblin Grove would be returning to a self I had outgrown, trying to tuck who I had become back into the seams of another girl.
I was so incredibly excited when I was asked to do a review of Shadowsong for the tour. Having recently read Wintersong (my review can be found here) and LOVING it, I wanted to get my hands on Shadowsong as soon as possible. I was hoping for something as overwhelming and epic as Wintersong was and not only was I not let down, but it blew my expectations away. Before we continue, I do want to go ahead and let y’all know that there are spoilers in this review for Wintersong.
I do need to mention that there was one secondary theme in the story that is aro/ace-misic. I don’t think it’s something S. Jae-Jones did on purpose and it might or might not have been run past a sensitivity reader. While reading it, I came across a single line that felt like it crawled under my skin and made this theme clear, but I thought I might have been over-reacting or over-thinking it. But then when a friend, who is also on the tour, came to me about that same line, I knew I had to include this tw/cw in my review just in case. I’m not going to put the line here just in case it’s spoily, but if you’d like for me to send it to you privately I would be more than happy to. On to the rest of the review!
The characters of Shadowsong are mostly those who we got to know in Wintersong with a few new and sinister additions. I really like how the character arc of Leisl went in this one because she is allowed to be uncertain while still trying to hold it together. Each character is given enough development to be realistic enough to converse with, though there were a couple I would as soon stay away from. They were all really well done and largely individual, save for a few of the secondary characters who we didn’t see as much and, thus, didn’t need to know as well.
I do want to go back to Leisl’s arc specifically really quick because her arc in Shadowsong gave me something I didn’t recognize until I started writing this review. At the beginning of Shadowsong, Leisl is still reeling from having to leave behind Der Erlkönig in order to stay alive. She’s unable to compose because each time she plays, she’s mentally thrown back into the Underworld. This, in some small way, made me feel like Leisl’s arc is decent representation for PTSD.
She was forced to leave behind the man she loves to be trapped in an eternal prison to continue living and working on a piece of music that is not only mainly about their relationship but that they worked on so closely together up until that point. She tries holding it together and putting on a good face, and she believes she is doing a decent job of it until she’s disillusioned of that belief. Music and composing are such huge parts of who she is that suppressing the need to compose pushes her further into her depressive state. And yet, when she does compose, it’s clear that it triggers a deepening of that depressive state as well. I just really enjoyed seeing this play out in the story, no matter how subtly it was done.
Shadowsong is set in a few different places because there are more than one point-of-view and they travel a bit. The Underworld didn’t receive as much world building as it did in Wintersong, but as this is a sequel I don’t feel like it really needed it. I was still able to picture the world and understand the way it functions from reading Wintersong. In Leisl’s home in the small town of Bavaria, we didn’t get much development either because, again, it was developed thoroughly in Wintersong. If its been a while since you read it a re-read wouldn’t be out of order and might help with this.
The two locations that received the most world building were Vienna and Snovin. Vienna is a bustling city, which is not what Leisl and her family are used to, having come from a small town inn. Snovin is an estate with a dark and magical background. Of all the places in this story, Snovin is probably my favourite. It’s the first place since the Goblin Grove and the Underworld that we get to see a good bit of magic but it was a bit twisted, which became clearer as the story revealed the backstory of the estate.
The story itself was so incredibly elaborate that it almost dares you to put it down, which is, of course, impossible. From beginning to end, there is something happening or something learned about the characters and their arcs. It flowed relatively well and everything came together so nicely at the end. Reading Shadowsong was basically eight hours of having my heart torn out, set on fire, and then replaced again. Burn, rinse, repeat. The ending of Shadowsong was so incredibly bittersweet and all loose plot lines were closed up so neatly.
The only thing that kept this from being a single sitting was the fact that I’ve had to work almost every day, a fact that I was still not prepared to let get in the way of me reading this digital galley. Late into the night, on the way to work (bus sickness be damned), on my breaks, and on my lunch break, I was deep in the world of Shadowsong and refused to come out. My coworker, who insisted I read Wintersong in the first place, only encouraged this, understanding when my only response to “how is it so far?” was “I HURT.” Shadowsong could easily be the finale of a duology, but I’m not sure I’m ready to let go. I look forward to reading more of S. Jae-Jones’ work in the future!
Overall, I rate Shadowsong 4 out of 5 bookworms.
Don’t just take my word for it. Get your hands on a copy and enjoy it for yourself! A few places you can order your copy from are:
About the Author
S. Jae-Jones, called JJ, is an artist, an adrenaline junkie, and the NYT bestselling author of Wintersong.
Born and raised in sunny Los Angeles, she lived in New York City for ten years before relocating down to Dixie, where she is comfortably growing fat on grits and barbecue. When not writing, she can be found rock-climbing, skydiving, taking photographs, drawing pictures, and dragging her dog on ridiculously long hikes.
Didn’t I say there would be a giveaway? Congratulations! You made it! One lucky reader will win:
- One (1) finished copy of Shadowsong by S. Jae-Jones
This giveaway is US Only! Sorry, international bookworms!!
CLICK HERE TO ENTER
Follow The Tour
Would you like to see more reviews and creative content while increasing your chances of winning the giveaway prize? Wish granted! Check out the other stops on the blog tour and you can have these things and more. You can find the full tour schedule here.
Thank you SO MUCH to S. Jae-Jones for writing Shadowsong. It’s such a brilliant novel and gift to the YA/NA Fantasy community and you are such a rockstar!
Thank you to the Fantastic Flying Book Club for allowing me to be part of this tour!
And, last but certainly not least, a huge thank you to Wednesday Books for the gift of being able to read Shadowsong before its publication date. And also, obviously, for recognizing S. Jae-Jones’ ridiculous amount of talent and publishing her in the first place!
That’s all for this post, bookworms. Keep living one page at a time!