by Jae-jones, S.

Six months after the events of "Wintersong," the barrier between worlds begins to crumble, sending Liesl back to the Underground where she searches for answers about life, death, and the Goblin King.

S. Jae-Jones (called JJ) is an artist, an adrenaline junkie, and erstwhile editrix. When not obsessing over books, she can be found jumping out of perfectly good airplanes, co-hosting the Pub(lishing) Crawl podcast, or playing dress-up. Born and raised in Los Angeles, she now lives in North Carolina, as well as many other places on the internet, including Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, Instagram, and her blog. She is the author of Wintersong and Shadowsong.

*Starred Review* Jae-Jones follows up her best-selling debut, Wintersong (2017), with this introspective, ethereal sequel. Wintersong followed Liesl, a nineteenth-century Bavarian composer who journeyed to the Underground to rescue her sister, stolen away by goblins. There Liesl lost her own heart to the Goblin King. If the first book detailed the slow awakening of Liesl's passion and independence in the Underground, this second book is its mirror image: now Liesl must navigate the real world and her own worsening mental health as everything around her threatens to fall apart. Her violin virtuoso brother, Josef, has grown cold, his music lacking soul when he plays anything other than Liesl's composition Der Erlkönig. As Liesl struggles to reach him both physically and mentally, it becomes eerily clear that the Underground is encroaching on the real world, and that the Goblin King's choice to let Liesl go may have dire consequences on both their worlds. This neatly dodges some of the pacing problems that plagued its predecessor by shifts in perspective: Liesl's first-person narration gives way to third-person chapters from Josef's perspective and fable-like sections that illuminate more of the Goblin King's past. The all-consuming romance that dominated the first volume now takes a far backseat to Liesl's relationships with her siblings, her art, and her own mind. An elegant conclusion to a wholly original duology. Copyright 2017 Booklist Reviews.

Even when der Erlkönig lets you go, the old laws still demand a sacrifice.After a year Underground, a changed Liesl returns to her family's rural Bavarian inn. Longing for her beloved Goblin King, missing her violinist brother, Josef, and constantly slipping between the mundane and the uncanny, she lives haunted by a "maelstrom…[of] madness, mania, melancholy" that frustrates her efforts to compose music. Meanwhile the Wild Hunt relentlessly pursues her and Josef from glittering Viennese salons through crumbling Bohemian ruins to the dark labyrinths Underground. Plot threads from Wintersong (2016) resolve satisfyingly, leaning heavily upon 19th-century Romanticism (including the problematic linkage between genius and insanity). Jae-Jones' author's note makes explicit her reliance on her own experience of bipolar disorder, lending authenticity to Liesl's mercurial moods: her alternating lassitude and frenzy, her intense self-absorption and self-loathing, and her dre amlike blurring of reality and fantasy. Liesl's narration is interspersed with additional viewpoints (all white, except for Josef's "Negro" and purely "metaphysical" lover), but they still feel remote, more totems of her mental state than fully fledged individuals. As the tone slowly develops from quotidian meanderings through nightmarish dread to a final phantasmagoric climax of terrible beauty and pain, the relentless richness of the lush, overripe prose will leave readers either swooning or exhausted. A harrowing, surreal catharsis of mental illness framed as a steamy fairy tale. (Fantasy. 14-adult) Copyright Kirkus 2018 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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