All her life, nineteen-year-old Liesl has heard tales of the beautiful, mysterious Goblin King. He is the Lord of Mischief, the Ruler Underground, and the muse around which her music is composed. Yet, as Liesl helps shoulder the burden of running her family’s inn, her dreams of composition and childish fancies about the Goblin King must be set aside in favor of more practical concerns.
But when her sister Käthe is taken by the goblins, Liesl journeys to their realm to rescue her sister and return her to the world above. The Goblin King agrees to let Käthe go—for a price. The life of a maiden must be given to the land, in accordance with the old laws. A life for a life, he says. Without sacrifice, nothing good can grow. Without death, there can be no rebirth. In exchange for her sister’s freedom, Liesl offers her hand in marriage to the Goblin King. He accepts.
Down in the Underground, Liesl discovers that the Goblin King still inspires her—musically, physically, emotionally. Yet even as her talent blossoms, Liesl’s life is slowly fading away, the price she paid for becoming the Goblin King’s bride. As the two of them grow closer, they must learn just what it is they are each willing to sacrifice: her life, her music, or the end of the world.
Vivid and enticing. Although, like Liesl, I feel smothered by her little village, the Goblin Grove and the Underground—plus the descriptions of vast European cities—provided the perfect escape for this.
Frustrating and static. I felt that there could have been so much more to the story and the characters if this was an adult book, but here they were just a bit too flat—particularly Liesl and especially the Goblin King. I also thought that there wasn’t much development of the characters and at the end of the book they finished back where they started. However, I did enjoy the exploration of family and familial bonds, as well as the uncanny nature of many characters.
I’ve never seen, or even heard of the movie Labyrinth, so I had very few expectations going into the book (besides the Goblin King’s hair of which I had seen numerous photos). Still, the book wasn’t what I was expecting. The first half had a great pace and action, but the second half felt disjointed and fell flat for me. I really would have liked more of the first half, while still developing the characters—which seemed to happen more in the second half. There just seemed too big of a divide between in the structure of the narrative.
This book’s pace confused me, as did its narrative structure. I felt that the book could have easily finished at the half way point and that the main plot points needed shifting a little. The language and descriptive passages were beautiful, though.
A good debut and I’m looking forward to seeing what comes next from S. Jae-Jones.
Please Note: all opinions are mine and are not endorsed with any company or organization.