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.
The year is far from over but I can already predict that this book will be high on my top ten favourite debuts. It was magical, lyrical, and it was an absolute joy to get sucked into this story. It had great characters, an addicting romance, and had all the Labyrinth feels I could want.
Liesl loved her family so it was no surprise that she would sacrifice herself for her sister. I liked her journey with her music as she became more confident, being a female composer during a time when women playing music was considered a silly indulgence. I also liked the emphasis on the difference in the relationships she had with her brother and her sister. She loved both but there was a special bond she shared with her brother and it left her sister feeling ignored.
The romance with Liesl and The Goblin King took time to grow on me and I was glad it did. If it had happened too fast I think I would have disliked it due to how she came to be his partner. The slow progression of their relationship worked. The romance would be the main reason I wouldn’t recommend it to younger teens but the older YA or NA crowd would be the perfect audience. Plus adults who love YA.
The story was dark and there was a lingering nostalgia as I read, a cross between Labyrinth memories and childhood imaginary friends long faded. I loved the way music was woven so heavily into the story and that there were many differences in this book and the movie Labyrinth so there were still surprises.
The sequel has definitely made its way on to my 2018 most anticipated list.
*I received a copy of this book from Indigo Books & Music in exchange for an honest review.