"We must not look at goblin men,
We must not buy their fruits;
Who knows upon what soil they fed
Their hungry, thirsty roots?"
from Goblin Market by Christina Rossetti
Tomorrow marks the spring equinox, but you wouldn't think so to look outside, as there is still snow on the ground. It has been a long winter and so I wanted to curl up with a book that took me far away in my mind. I have dozens of new books on my study shelves waiting to be read, but I reached for Wintersong; a fairytale novel based on the epic poem Goblin Market by Christina Rossetti, which is one of my favourite poems.
Wintersong tells the story of Elizabeth, the eldest of three children, who befriends a mysterious boy in the woods and unwittingly makes him an innocent promise she doesn't really understand. Years later a handsome stranger turns up in her life to lay claim to that promise. He is magical and ethereal and powerful - and he is looking for a bride, or else he will plunge the world into an eternal winter of ice, snow and death.
His choice falls on Elizabeth's beautiful golden-haired sister and he whisks her away to the Underworld, leaving Elizabeth no choice but to venture after them to try and rescue her sister from the Goblin King. So begins an epic adventure for Elizabeth and her sister Katharina - one filled with all the feasting, dancing and fine ball gowns of the dark realm of the Fey. But all is not what it seems and faerie glamour is all around them.
As the title of the book suggests, the novel has a musical theme and there is musicality in the lyrical way in which the novel is written. The author clearly has a depth of knowledge in musical theory and composition and this shines through in every chapter. Anyone with a love of playing and composing music would enjoy this book, for it explores the magic of the musical composition and the genius of plucking sounds fresh from the mind and transforming them into melody and song for others to enjoy. The vocabulary used is extensive and lyrically expressive. It is a very intelligent novel.
Wintersong is by far one of the most sophisticated fantasy novels I have ever read, drawing upon classic poetry and the great composers, as well as folklore and mythology, weaving them together into a fairytale version of the Persephone myth, that literally sings from the page. It blends together everything I love about the arts - literature, classical music, poetry, mythology - this book has it all. It's so inspiring to read too. It made me want to study musical theory - and I mean really study it - and take my own attempts to learn piano more seriously.
This book is over 500 pages long and I read it in a day and a half, it's that good. Curled up by the fire, listening to classical harp music playing in the background, I was completely swept away by this story. It is beautiful, romantic, magical and whimsical. If you love music, or enjoyed other fairytale books I have reviewed, such as Entwined and The Treachery of Beautiful Things, I am sure that will love Wintersong too, so I will include the link here, should you want to give it try. It is a beautiful escape into an enchanting world, resplendent in the music of love.
"But did I remember something I had imagined, or something real? There was pretend, and then there was memory..."