Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones
Deep in his terrifying realm underground, the cold and forbidding Goblin King casts a dark shadow over nineteen-year-old Liesl. Her grandmother had always warned her to follow the old laws, for every year on the longest night of winter the Goblin King will emerge into the waking world in search of his eternal bride. Sensible and plain, Liesl knows it's her duty to keep her beautiful sister safe from harm, but she wishes only to indulge in her wild, captivating music, composed and played in secret in the Goblin King's honor.
When her beautiful sister Käthe is stolen by the Goblin King, Liesl knows she must set aside her childish fantasies to journey to the Underground and save her. Drawn despite herself to the strange, beautiful world she finds--and the mysterious man who rules it--she finds herself facing an impossible choice. With time and the old laws working against her, Liesl must discover who she truly is before her fate is sealed.
Set at the turn of the 19th century, when young upstart composers like Beethoven were forever altering the sound of music, S. Jae-Jones' richly imagined debut spins a spellbinding tale of music, love, sisterhood, and a young woman's search for self-actualization.
Nineteen-year-old Liesl has always set aside her wants and needs for the wants and needs of others, namely her younger siblings, Josef and Kathe. Liesl is a talented composer but since her father doesn't believe women are capable of being great composers and musicians she hides her talent behind her talented, virtuoso brother, Josef who takes her compositions and brings them to life on his violin. And Liesl has always deferred to her younger, prettier sister Kathe who is betrothed to Liesl's secret crush, Hans.
Liesl has put off her own happiness for so long and completely forgotten about her stolen childhood moments in the Goblin Grove and the playmate she spent hours playing with there. But her playmate, the Goblin King, has not forgotten Liesl, nor has he forgotten the games and promises they once shared.
When Liesl spots an elegant stranger in the market and then Kathe goes missing, her superstitious grandmother, Constanze tells her the only way to get her back is to travel to the Underground and rescue her from the Lord of Mischief himself, the Goblin King. It won't be an easy task but Liesl will persevere - not giving up until she finds herself in the Underground. But saving Kathe won't be as easy as striding in, grabbing her, and racing home. Will Liesl be able to break the Goblin King's hold on Kathe's mind and get her safely into the world above? Can she pass the tests the Goblin King sets before her? Or will Liesl have to make the ultimate sacrifice to save her sister?
The ultimate sacrifice - a life for a life. As Liesl selflessly gives herself up to the Goblin King and becomes his wife, his Goblin Queen, she believes it is the worst thing that has ever happened. But as she's about to learn, it may be the only way to finally free herself of the constraints she's place around herself. In the Underground she'll find love, passion, and above all - she'll find herself. But with her life slipping away, will she be able to enjoy her non-life to the fullest before it's too late?
Wintersong is a truly beautiful novel. It's sexy, romantic, and shows the true love of a sister who would do anything for the siblings she loves. Alternately, the Goblin King is a broken, bitter creature that's afraid to allow himself to love until Liesl comes along and gives him hope. I think I was half in love with the Goblin King from the Overture at the beginning of the book and I loved watching he and Liesl (called Elisabeth later in the book) interact and fall in love.
I thought all the mentions of music in the book to be well researched, leading me to believe the author is either an accomplished musician or composer or someone that really did a lot of great, in depth research on the topic of composing. I thought the storyline was beautiful and rich with mythology, reminding me heavily of the Persephone myth, with a slight variation.
The only issues I had with the book were the sections that were written in German. I would have been so much more appreciative if there had either been a footnote, or a glossary at the end of the book, or even a translation in English after the word or phrase was uttered to explain what it meant. Also, there were a few grammatical errors that I felt got overlooked and I had to double check (since I got Wintersong from the library) that it was a finished copy and not just an ARC that hadn't gone through the final stage of editing.
Overall, I loved this book and I think it will stick with me for quite a while. By the time I got to the end I was pretty much bawling and I hope there's going to be a sequel, because I'd really like a happy ending for Elisabeth and her Goblin King. I also felt that it left it open for book two because the Goblins and the Changelings want Josef after all... that can't go without some kind of plot in a sequel.