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This book is certainly different from a lot of other fantasy out there. It read like a folktale and the narration added to that sense of old-timey myth and mystery. However, the narrative is almost entirely introspection. Everything seems like a metaphor because it doesn't quite make sense. It's the kind of story that wants you to believe that deep things are being said, but is less concerned with actually saying them.
A young woman is trying to figure out her life, basically. She's insecure about her looks and talents, she's jealous of her siblings but also a bit co-dependent, something about sexuality. The problem is that while each issue comes up a lot, none of them are coherently addressed. For instance, it's a huge deal that the Goblin King won't have sex with her and she doesn't understand why, so she feels rejected. So what turns out to be the reason? Well, goblins can't feel and are feeding off her emotions or something. So if she has strong emotions (like during sex), she will be drained and die more quickly. However the king encourages her to compose passionately for days without food or sleep, so how is that less emotional than sex? She does get a nose bleed after composing, which is a sign of her impending death, but the book implies that it's from lack of food/sleep because she is too obsessed with music to do any of those things. Or because all the fruit is secretly rotten and has no nutrients. It's so unclear, and it's made even worse when suddenly she is told that she will lose her vision/hearing/taste/sense of touch, and that's how she will die.Why is using her ears for music less taxing than using her sense of touch for sex? Is it based on emotion or sensation? Well, she immediately loses her hearing when the goblin king has sex with her, so there is something about sex that makes it different from her other passions. And then she immediately gets her hearing back for no reason. It drives me crazy. What is Jae-Jones actually trying to say about sex here? I don't get it. The book teases at these questions, then half answers them, then half contradicts itself 10 pages later.
What about that thing where she was choosing her brother over her sister? That thread just gets forgotten about.
Same deal with whether she can have a life with the goblin king or not. He says that there is a version of him somewhere in the world that she should find -- like a human version? Except then they forget about that conversation and it never comes up again. Then there is the story about the first goblin queen leading her king out of the underworld on a bridge of their love, but that doesn't happen either. The end is pretty unsatisfying actually.
It's not terrible, but I didn't love it.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful
Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?
Yes, I have, in fact. First of all, Jim Henson's Labyrinth fans should not hesitate to get their hands on some form of this story, book or audiobook, though the audiobook is something special and worth listening to, giving the story even more magic.
What did you like best about this story?
It captured the essence of Labyrinth while also making it its own story and world. There were definite themes and moments coined to the original idea, but S. Jae-Jones wove a beautiful, sensual, moving story that every fan wished had happened between Sarah and Jareth.
Which scene was your favorite?
SPOILERS! DON'T READ THIS IF YOU DON'T WANT A MAJOR SCENE RUINED!
My favorite scene is after she's rescued her sister and so faced the greatest ultimatum: life or die, flee or surrender, save herself or the world. It's a daunting decision, but what's great about this scene is the creepiness factor that is a prominent part of Beauty and the Beast, Labyrinth, Hades and Persephone, that kidnapping element is eliminating. Basically she tells the Goblin King "You have no power over me", but also she chooses to go with him, to sacrifice herself to belong to him and the Underground. It's a very powerful moment, for all parties, and it changes everything.
Second is the last scene, where she chooses to leave the Underground. She loves the Goblin King, wants to be his forever, entire, but the cost is too great and so he lets her go. This is the satisfying moment we didn't get in the movie, but that's a different story. Here we get the satisfaction of her having chosen the Goblin King, but then also her choosing herself, which is bittersweet but the best thing for her and the story.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful