Shadowsong picks up 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 Her younger brother Josef is cold, distant, and withdrawn, while Liesl can’t forget the austere young man she left beneath the earth, and the music he inspired in her.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? (via Goodreads)
I received an eARC from publisher Wednesday Books, courtesy of Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
The sequel to S. Jae-Jones’ Wintersong is a beautiful, discordant and strange book, and I can’t decide whether I liked it or not.
Shadowsong needs content warnings for self harm, addiction, reckless behaviors, suicidal ideation, use of ‘negro,’ kidnapping, use of ableist words ‘idiot, simple, mad’, drug use, unconsenting drug use, and suicide. Please be careful with your mental health as you read.
It had a lot of good elements, and pulled in themes from the original story. I loved that Käthe got more of her own storyline. I loved that we got to learn more about François. I loved the mysterious benefactor aspect.
One thing I really love about Shadowsong is that it really makes it clear that her love for Josef and for the Goblin King are different, but equal. So often, romantic relationships are prioritized over family and friendship in a really shitty way, but Jae-Jones goes out of her way not to do that. I loved that she did state that they are both part of her heart, and that her heart just grew to accept the other people without lessening her love for the originals.
However, there was one line that really bothered me from Josef’s perspective, as someone on the ace spectrum.
“But the changeling knew that his love was not the same as François’s love, for the urge to touch was absent and the heat of passion was cold.”
It’s a throwaway line that could be omitted without any damage to the story, and would be much less harmful for readers like myself.
I didn’t love the weird perspective changes. Liesl’s part was told in first person, but all of the others were in a distant third person, which forced me to really take a minute and get back into the story every time. It wasn’t badly written, it was just really confusing for me.
I would have loved a little bit more of a conclusion, rather than the sigh that Shadowsong ends on.
Overall, I think that I liked this book. But there were definitely some things that left me scratching my head.