I LOVED Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones more then I’ll ever be able to convey through words. (Sjaejones on Instagram… Go find her so you can keep up with everything Wintersong).
Wintersong is about music, magic and tales from the times of the old laws. It is lore, superstitions, bedtime stories and warnings whispered to children to be good. It’s unique and beautiful- set in the era when composers like the Linley’s and Mozart created brilliance that we just know as the classics- musical masterpiece that are timeless.
After reading so many series whose settings feel so familiar, this book is different. It feels mystical and wild, magical and free…Der Erlkönig or The Goblin King is the Lord of Mischief. He is beautiful, mysterious, playful and cunning… (his characteristics seem kindred to the fey from many other best-selling YA novels we all have read except in Wintersong, it’s Goblins who are the story. Eerie, mysterious creatures that I haven’t read about in books before.)
In the stories Liesl and her siblings have been told as they sat as children at the feet of Constanze, their grandmother: he’s the creature of your nightmares.
Constanze, who had always kept faith to the old calenders and the old law, said that on the last night of autumn, the barrier between the worlds was at it’s thinnest. She believed that the day the old year dies, Der Erlkönig rides above ground, in the world of the living, searching for his bride.
Liesl as a child imagined she, herself, would play with the King of Goblins in the woods. She’d dance, play games of challenges and dares, truth and forfeit, and play her music for the boy in the woods. As seasons changed, she always returned… He’d tease and ask “Will you marry me, Elisabeth?” she’d giggle and chide that he hadn’t yet won her hand. They’d play game after game… she would lose every round. Eventually, as she reached adolescence, she took on more and more of the family responsibility. Her primary focus was helping prepare her younger brother Josef to become a famous musician. She no longer went into the woods to see her childhood friend.
Since a child, she always felt an untamed, wild music in her blood. She came from a family of outstanding musical ability. Her father was once an extrodinaire violinist, who played with some of the best musicians in the courts and her mother, also, was well renowned through out the courts, for not only her voice by for her beauty. The family had once dreamt to take her brother Josef to tour the capital cities with his talent the way Mozart had been and be seen as a child prodigy – but it hadn’t happened. Their Papa spent more time at the bottom of a barrel, not reaching as far in his career as his peers and maybe waiting too long to show off his son’s musical brilliance as well. They had one last chance. So many of the families hopes were riding on Master Antonius, an acquaintance from their father’s glory days, to take on her youngest brother as an apprentice. For Liesl, it was her secret wish that it would one day be a way for her to have her music reach other people’s ears. She kept scribbles of compositions, parts of sonatas -written on discarded papers found, scraps or loose stationary left behind at the inn their family ran. Jotted down melodies here and there that she once day dreamt of being heard by someone other then her baby brother. She created the music- odd, strange and undisciplined and he played the music- knowing her music like he knew himself… fixing the imperfections and playing the notes with precision and perfection. Her beautiful sister Käthe, so full of life, sensuous and full of sunshine, had other dreams if their brother apprenticed with the Master. It was a chance for her to visit him as he toured the cities of Venice and more. An escape from their small village to a life of adventure. Her grandmother always warned her to watch out for her sister and to choose well. She was everything the Goblin King looked for in a bride. Dismissive of the fairytales of her childhood, she spent most of her time with Josef- he needed her more. Always sickly, since he was a baby, she felt that his frailty and musical brilliance always needed her attention.
As Käthe and her went into town to pick up new bows for Josef’s audition, Constanze’s warnings came bank to Liesl “Beware the goblin men, and the wares they sell.” Tonight, on the last night of autumn, The Lord of Mischief would steal away a bride. She never felt any fear for herself. Der Erlkönig had a weakness for beautiful women and she was not beautiful… she was just plain, queer, untrained Liesl. In the towns center, they heard chanting … sellers from all corners… but a strange music- tapped on the table corners and sang through their chant- caught both Käthe and her ears. There in a far corner, when winter was but a moment away, were ripe summer peaches. She knew. She didn’t. These were the Goblin men from the stories but they couldn’t be. She quickly drew her sister away from the fruit that was tantalizing their senses. You never trust the things sold by the goblin men. After picking up the supplies they came for separately, Liesl went to go find her sister. An elegant and mysterious, tall stranger stopped her and gave her a gift. She knew the warnings but he promised the gift- a wooden flute- was given out of selfishness “to see what she would do with it”… Suddenly, she realized that Käthe was nowhere to be seen. Constanze’s warnings to choose wisely rang on her ears. Watch out for your sister. The Goblin King needs his bride. She ran – frantic- knowing exactly where to look… But there was no fruitsellers, no tables… only her sister with a glazed look her eyes and lips sticky from a half eaten peach.
She promised to keep her sister safe, but was it already too late?
Okay, that is my summary on the absolutely AMAZING beginning of the book. I don’t want to write any more for fear that I’ll ruin S. Jae-Jones’s BRILLIANT story and flawless writing style. (I am sure that I butchered it enough as it is!)
Like I said in my first few words, Wintersong is going to be one of the most talked about and sought after book this year… And years to come.
I had the honor of doing a Question and Answer with the author, herself (eek! I was seriously fangirling over here… I still am.)
Meet S. Jae-Jones (JJ for short)
I’m a huge fan of perfumes (particularly Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab perfumes), so for fun I once came up with a list of fragrances for my characters and various other things related to my book. 🙂
I didn’t really think about the way my characters would smell as I was writing the book, but what I love about perfumery and other fragrance-based artistry is how smells can evoke feelings in people. For me, when I think of the Goblin King, I think of dark, cool mysterious forests, so a woody scent like vetiver would probably be a base. Goblin Kings are also mischievous and perhaps a little bit cruel, so I think leather and violet would also be appropriate. Leather for cruelty, but violet is traditionally considered a flirtatious fragrance because it comes and goes. And finally, I think a hint of incense would be part of my Goblin King’s candle, because faith is a large part of his character.
Question two: If you had to describe “You, Entire” as a scent for a candle, what fragrances would you use?
In many ways, I think “You, Entire” would be a bit like the Amortentia potion from Harry Potter in that it would smell different for everyone. However, as Liesl is the person for whom the candle would be named, I think “You, Entire” would be a richer, fuller version of her fragrance, which I described as “A light floral bouquet of roses, jasmine, and ivy warmed by sandalwood and golden musk.” I love the smell of white flowers like jasmine, gardenia, and ylang-ylang, which I always associate with a sort of feminine delicacy. But flowers fade as a top note without a strong base, something woody and/or musky. I think of Liesl’s base as being very warm, like fire, so warm scents like sandalwood and amber would anchor her.
Besides gaining inspiration from The Labyrinth, do you have you own personal place relative to the Goblin Grove, where you began to envision what the forest would look like?
I don’t have my own sacred place, or at least, not a physical one. To be honest, I don’t even like forests all that much, haha. I was born and raised in LA, and it wasn’t until I moved to the East Coast that I saw a proper forest. But I knew very clearly what the Goblin Grove looked like; so many fairy tales begin in the deep, dark woods, and I’ve travelled through many of them in the stories I read.
Thank you so much S. Jae-Jones for taking the time to answer these questions, but most of all for writing this incredible piece of literature. This book has not left my mind since I first read it (and I have actually already done my first reread of Wintersong… My first of many, since anyone who knows me or reads my posts/blogs know that I’m an avid rereader of my favorites.)
Wintersong actually inspired me to create a candle of Der Erlkönig, The Goblin King, from the scents that S. Jae-Jones came up with above. It’s her interpretation of the characters she brought to life and I feel honored that she was willing to tell me what fragrances that she images for the character as she wrote this work of art.
Later this week ‘Der Erlkönig, The Goblin King’ Candle will be for sale in my Etsy shop, so stay tuned.
Click the link above to PRE-ORDER now from one of your favorite bookstores. Release date is February 7, 2017… (You don’t want to be the last one to buy this novel. This book already has an incredible buzz surrounding it. You will not be disappointed.)
Follow S. Jae-Jones on Instagram @sjaejones for all things Wintersong!