(Cover picture courtesy of Strange Chemistry Books.)
For five centuries, a witch’s curse has bound the trolls to their city beneath the ruins of Forsaken Mountain. Time enough for their dark and nefarious magic to fade from human memory and into myth. But a prophesy has been spoken of a union with the power to set the trolls free, and when Cécile de Troyes is kidnapped and taken beneath the mountain, she learns there is far more to the myth of the trolls than she could have imagined.
Cécile has only one thing on her mind after she is brought to Trollus: escape. Only the trolls are clever, fast, and inhumanly strong. She will have to bide her time, wait for the perfect opportunity.
But something unexpected happens while she’s waiting – she begins to fall for the enigmatic troll prince to whom she has been bonded and married. She begins to make friends. And she begins to see that she may be the only hope for the half-bloods – part troll, part human creatures who are slaves to the full-blooded trolls. There is a rebellion brewing. And her prince, Tristan, the future king, is its secret leader.
As Cécile becomes involved in the intricate political games of Trollus, she becomes more than a farmer’s daughter. She becomes a princess, the hope of a people, and a witch with magic powerful enough to change Trollus forever.
[Full disclosure: I received a free ebook through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.]
If you’re a regular reader of my reviews here you’re probably wondering why I picked up a book like Stolen Songbird not so long after picking up Captivate by Vanessa Garden, a book with a very similar premise. Well, the truth is that I’m kind of a sucker for these types of stories and saw that Danielle L. Jensen’s book had a lot of potential to be good. If it was done right, that is. The question is: was it done right?
Of course! I got so much more than I bargained for when I took a chance on Stolen Songbird. First off, the main character Cécile is an opera singer, so I’m automatically predisposed to like her as I love opera. But what makes her stand out so much from other protagonists is that even though she’s the ‘Chosen One’ figure in Trollus, she doesn’t succeed in meeting their expectations. She’s imperfect
Unlike a lot of protagonists in her situation, she makes an honest attempt at an escape; she doesn’t fall for Tristan right away. She feels conflicted when she does start growing feelings for him and her choice at the end is shocking and more than a little satisfying. As for Tristan himself I love how he developed as he let his guard down around Cécile. We got to see things from his point of view and it was interesting seeing how they each perceived the other as well as the events and politics going on in Trollus at the time.
She may not be the saviour they’re waiting for. It might not even be a good thing if Trollus was freed from the witches’ curse! It’s all so wonderfully ambiguous; absolutely nothing is clear-cut in this book and that’s one of the main reasons I love it. Danielle L. Jensen doesn’t deal in the black and white, good and evil that is the hallmark of your typical YA fantasy novel. No, there’s good trolls, bad trolls and trolls in-between, just like how she portrays the humans in the novel.
One of the many amazing things about this book is the world-building, which is only enhanced by the beautiful writing style. We slowly learn the backstory of Trollus and how it came to be under a mountain and why the trolls can’t leave. Just when you think you know the whole story, you learn something new about the origins of the city and its inhabitants. There are two sides to the history of trolls and Cécile must decide which one is right or if the truth is somewhere in between the two extremes. The world of Trollus would be fascinating even with mediocre writing, but it is the vivid imagery Danielle L. Jensen uses that puts Stolen Songbird into the ‘great book’ category. Her descriptions of the tunnels, the sluags, the city itself, the palace gardens, the countryside, etc. all make Cécile’s world come alive. The little details are important and I always had a good picture of what the setting looked like in my head, unlike in a lot of other books that sacrifice description for pacing.
In short, Stolen Songbird is a must-read. It doesn’t come out until April 1, but you had better pre-order a copy right now if you find this book even remotely interesting. Just like me you’ll also want the rest of The Malediction Trilogy to come out this instant as well. I can’t wait for book two!
I give this book 5/5 stars.