Title: Stolen Songbird (The Malediction Trilogy #1)
Author: Danielle L. Jensen
Publisher: Strange Chemistry
Acquired Via: Publisher
Release Date: April 1, 2014
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.
A lot of the book was reminiscent of Beauty and the Beast - unwilling girl kidnapped to break a monstrous curse. There were several other parallels, but I don’t want to give any spoilers so I won’t discuss it here. I did think that it was little convenient that when Cécile is first brought to Trollus she thought that all the trolls were “monstrous” but the one troll she is supposed to marry she thinks is beautiful. I wish that Tristan would have been, if not disfigured, then at least not the most beautiful person in Trollus. It would have been refreshing to have a less-than-perfect male lead in YA.
I loved Cécile’s character. She was brave, clever and made the best of a bad situation. Sure, she had been kidnapped and married against her will, but she didn’t spend her time pouting and moaning. She tried to get to know people, she made friends, and learned about her new world - all the while plotting her escape. She was also willing to put herself into danger for complete strangers and people she knew. My kind of heroine! The secondary cast of characters were equally as well written. They had distinct likable or unlikable personalities. I hope that we get to see more of Marc’s story in the future! However, I did think the “villains” were too black-and-white evil. I like some grey in my villains and a bit more of a reason for their evilness other than they hate a specific species/race/etc.
I also enjoyed the world of Stolen Songbird. I loved that the trolls oppressed the humans, because if the trolls had been above the surface, I’m sure that the trolls would have been the ones in slavery. Human kind does not have the best track record. I also liked the political intrigue and having the prince be the leader of the resistance. The world building was top-notch. Jensen created this entire underground world with its own troubles, political system, economic system and values. I loved learning about all the laws concerning the trolls, humans and half breeds (part human/part troll). The execution of the lore of the trolls and the curse was brilliant.
My only complaints are pretty minor. First, the shifting first-person point of views without any sort of notice threw me off a few times. I wish there would have been some sort of clue such as Tristan’s name at the beginning of his passages. As it was, I would read a few sentences into a paragraph before realizing that the speaker was actually Tristan.
My second complaint is the lack of a resolution in the story. I feel like Cécile and Tristan went through a huge ordeal to basically accomplish nothing. However, the story was so wonderful and beautiful that I’m willing to wait (impatiently) until the next two books for all the information I need about the evil witch and her curse.
For most of the first half of the book, the romance takes a back seat to the plot of the story, which I really enjoyed. This was a YA novel that did not make the female heroine’s entire world center around the man she loved...until it did. By the end of the story, Cécile and Tristan were making choices solely for their love for one another, which hadn’t been present for the rest of the story. I liked the relationship between the two, but I wanted there to be more of a balance between no romance to full-fledged love. Also, I wanted Cécile to want to stay in Trollus because it was the right thing to do (like helping the oppressed half-breeds and freeing the trolls from the curse), and not because she just couldn’t live without Tristan.
Other than my minor issues with the book, I completely enjoyed it. I read it almost entirely in one sitting, and so far it is one of my favorites so far this year, if not my absolute favorite.
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To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received an advance copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.