I have a confession to make. I want to be liked. I can be whoever I need to be for you to like me.
Why am I telling you this?
I don’t enjoy criticising. Trust me, the irony of starting a critical book review blog is not lost on me. I did it on purpose though. I want to push myself whilst battling those inner demons of mine. 🙂
With that said: DING DONG, DING DONG, a not so popular review coming your way.
Wintersong is narrated by Liesl and follows her quest to save her sister Käthe, who is taken underground by the Goblin King.
“There is a law that for spring to begin, a life of a maiden must be given to the land. Without sacrifice, nothing good can grow. Without death, there can be no rebirth.”
If you are thinking of the film Labyrinth, you are on the right track.
It is a retelling of Labyrinth that was also inspired by the poem Erlkönig by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.
Who rides there so late through the night dark and drear?
The father it is, with his infant so dear;
He holdeth the boy tightly clasp’d in his arm,
He holdeth him safely, he keepeth him warm.
“My son, wherefore seek’st thou thy face thus to hide?”
“Look, father, the Erl-King is close by our side!
~ Erlkönig translated by Edgar Alfred Bowring
Initially, I picked Wintersong because of its haunting writing. But sadly, this book was not meant to be. Don’t be put off by what I am about to say. This book has received many five star reviews and maybe I was just not its target audience.
Let’s break it down. I felt the entire book could have been summarised in a page. I felt, not much happened throughout the story.
Then there was Liesel, whom I found exasperating. She would fulfil her dreams via her younger, ‘gifted’ brother, whilst being envious of her ‘beautiful’ sister. She would not honour her own gift of music composing as she was afraid to be judged.
She was described as ‘plain’ – seemingly having a ‘character’ was not something she would recognise as necessary.
I guess I was supposed to like her as she ‘sacrificed’ herself to stay underground instead of her sister. Regrettably, I did not see her offering as a true sacrifice as she fancied the Goblin King and had an inner motive to stay.
She was jealous, judgemental, insecure and full of self-loathing. I would consider a character experiencing all of those traits intriguing as long as there was a growth potential. Liesel did not evolve, a missed opportunity perhaps, and for that, I found her tedious and annoying.
Let’s talk ‘real problems’, shall we?
- The romance between Liesl and the Goblin King troubled me.
It is below par to portray dangerous ‘monster’ men as romantic heroes.
“I am” he whispers, “the monster I warned you against.”
“You are,” I say hoarsely. “the monster I claim.”
It may appear ‘thrilling’ to some but I have enough drama in my life without having to invite a monster into it, thank you very much.
In my opinion, such messages may influence someone into tolerating an abusive behaviour whilst justifying it as ‘oh, he/she is a monster now but he/she is ‘my’ monster’.
- Liesel’s radical transformation after she had sex bothered me.
BOOM BOOM BANG BANG, a girl has sex for the first time and suddenly, all her misery disappears as she becomes a happy ray of sunshine.
Not only did
Liesel Elisabeth start feeling like a new person, she also finally saw herself as a woman. Something that could be interpreted as sex being a ritual into one’s adulthood. Such message irritated me, especially as this genre targets young adults.
Maybe it was just me, maybe I was in a foul mood, who knows. Sadly, Wintersong was not my thing.