Ah, Wintersong, you held so much promise and you deceived me. That’s the worst kind of hurt in a book, when you trust it, when you give it your entire and in return, it doesn’t do the same. This review will be a little long, so please do brace yourself.
The plot emanated so much genuine magic and thrill. I thought, finally, I found a book with a dark, heart wrenching love and a story line that’s concocted from pure talent and imagination. Alas, that was not the case. Wintersong was but a mere echo of the Labyrinth in an adult romance format. And I say adult because midway through the book, the author threw an intense almost sex scene right in my face. I didn’t even know it was coming and being the prude that I am, I had to skip it. And the one after that, and the one after that, and the one after that, and I think there was another one after that . I looked further into it and I read that the author jokingly pitched it as Fifty Shades of Labyrinth and there were supposed to be way more sex scenes.
Awkward, especially when you can’t stop imagining David Bowie as the Goblin King (maybe that works for you though).
While the first half of the book was wondrous and exciting, the second half wasn’t. In the first half, I liked the scene where Liesl and Kathe go to the market and meet the goblins. I could feel the cool breeze of autumn and see the fleshy fruits offered by the goblins. It was beautiful. It was alive.
It even made me want to watch Labyrinth, which I haven’t seen (on hindsight, I think it was a mistake to see it before finishing the book, so my advice for those who haven’t seen it yet, don’t do it yet. Trust me, you don’t want to be stuck imagining David Bowie as the austere young man for a 19-year-old queer, unlovely girl).
The second half deviated from the film and not in a very enticing direction. The plot meandered.
The reason the Goblin King takes on brides, which is to keep eternal winter away, was forgotten and Elisabeth just got to leave like that because of LOVE? I could buy it if it was elaborated upon a bit more but the way it was done left me frustrated.
I also think S. Jae-Jones wanted to recreate Hades and Persephone myth but like many authors before her, she didn’t succeed. She lost direction and the only main characters that remained and could do anything of interest were the two protagonists, which made things kind of boring.
Where were the other Olympian gods? Where were the creators of the old laws? Where the hell was everybody else?
So yeah, the second half of the story felt empty.
Characters, well, at first they were interesting but with the story, went their logic.
Liesl- she was alright in the beginning, even though I didn’t really understand her hatred for her sister. After the midway point, she did a 180 and became very annoying. She was idle and self-pitying and unsure about her looks (I understand she was supposed to grow out of it but it still didn’t make the reading easier, especially since there was no plot to complement it). And, me being me, it irked me that Liesl looked down at the goblins and animals.
“It. As though my baby brother were an animal.”
Rant beyond, tread lightly. I mean what’s so wrong with animals? Have you ever spent time with cats, dogs, cows, heck, even baby mice? They’re all very smart in their own way, so why do we have to look down on them? They’re living, breathing creatures too. So it just feels wrong to me when a protagonist is supposed to be all nice but then they look down on everybody else who’s not human and differ from them in any way. It’s not right to be human-centric to a point that even when there is proof of intelligence in other living creatures, we still insist on referring to them as an it. I mean, look at this:
Goblin King- I liked him in the beginning, he was mysterious and he made sense in a strange way but then I didn’t care? Although I felt a small twinge of sadness for how things ended for him, he was a tragic character after all, I still couldn’t care much for someone I couldn’t understand.
Kathe- I thought she’d play a bigger part in the story, but she was just a bimbo and stayed a bimbo in Elisabeth’s eyes even though by the end of the book Elisabeth said she loved her sister.
Josef- he was an interesting character as well but again, I didn’t feel the connection to him. And the big revelation about him wasn’t that surprising because it seemed so inconsequential. Maybe there’ll be more to it in the sequel.
Goblins- They were a fun bunch but what was up with Twig turning into a tree and then not?
As for the writing, the author definitely has talent. S. Jae-Jones wielded words like Josef wielded the violin, masterfully. Her writing was lush and vivid and beautiful, but I think because it was so lush and vivid and beautiful, the plot hid behind it (in the second half) and refused to come back.
Filmability I’m a filmmaker so every time I read a book, I try to imagine whether it could be a good movie. And for the first time, I decided to include my thought process behind deciding whether the books I read can become feature films. And whether or not I would produce them.
Budget vs success rate
-The original movie was the Labyrinth, and its budget was $25,000,000. In box office it made $12,000,000. By anybody’s standards, that’s not very successful. In DVD sales, Labyrinth made $11,000,000 over a very long period of time. So in making of new films similar to it, the success rate of the already made films needs to be taken into consideration. In this case, it wasn’t very successful.
-However, today Labyrinth is a well-loved movie, which means there’s a chance it could bring in more people to theaters. But if it doesn’t live up to standards of the original, people will be disappointed. And I think, since Wintersong is so much different than the original (kids movie vs adult romance, most people will not be too happy.
-And to make it stand on its own and make it cinematically pleasing, the budget would need to be high. For example, Alice in Wonderland, which is also similar to the world concocted in Wintersong, had a budget of $200,000,000 budget and they made over a billion dollars in box office and $100,000,000 in DVD sales. But it was so successful because it kept true to the original story, while Wintersong would be a completely different rendition of the original.
-I think the first half could be translated into movie language with relative ease, since S. Jae-Jones builds a very nice, vivid world, but the second half would lose its way and not make for a very exciting ending. And all the CGI budget would be spent on that wandering second half.
-However, I do like the chance of incorporating classical music to the mix. It would add a rich layer that the author was going for.
-I’d pick popular actors to draw viewers in but not sure who exactly yet.
-Mia Wasikowska as Liesl, perhaps?
-Sets would probably be built for the first half of the story that takes place in the world above.
-The second half would rely more on blue screen to portray the weirdness of the goblin world that twists in on itself in strange and impossible ways.
-I liked the underground lake, the market, and the masquerade scene and think they could be made into very beautiful scenes.
Yes or no?
-Would I produce it? No.
-There is definitely potential here, but I think I’d pass on it because there is no clear audience to target for marketing. Who would it be?
Children? Because it’s based on a kid’s movie?
Adults? Because it has a lot of shmexy times?
-That line isn’t clear, but who knows, 50 Shades of Grey succeeded, so maybe if someone picks this up and makes it into 50 Shades of Labyrinth, it will also succeed. Who cares about expectations.
I post GIF encrusted reviews like this every Wednesday, so you’re welcome to come back and see what next week holds in store for you.