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First of all, I want to fully appreciate the sentiments of the author’s at the very beginning of the book, about mental illness, and how S. Jae-Jones is writing the main character Liesl as a person with bipolar disorder. She makes a grand gesture by opening her book in this way, and by recognizing that self-harm and suicidal ideation are struggles that should be talked about, and that anyone who is depressed should not be alone.
In turn, she’s acknowledging that while Wintersong may have been a bright mirror of having her voice heard and valued, Shadowsong is the dark one, and reflects another side of her. We all know that authors’ works are personal, but we immediately and literally feel that shadow.
The writing and language is as beautiful as ever, but I will admit to sometimes finding myself bogged down and confused. I also had trouble getting invested in any character and Liesl, as the protagonist, because she struggles with her moods, it’s hard to support her ventures and forgive her misgivings, even though you know she needs ‘help’ with it all. Overall, it made the story take on a tone that is quite different from Wintersong and I’ll be interested to see how many fans see this part of the duology.