Series: The Malediction Trilogy #1
Published by Strange Chemistry on April 2014
Genres: Fantasy, High Fantasy, Young Adult
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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.
Cécile is a young girl in a society much like a French aristocracy, about to follow her mother to the big city to become a professional singer. As she travels home one evening she is kidnapped and sold to the kingdom of trolls. Trolls are confined to their city of Trollus under the mountains by a witch’s curse, and a prophecy states that a human bonded to a troll prince can break the curse. Cécile is forced to bond to the troll prince, Tristan, against her will, but as she spends longer in the company of the trolls and sees the terrible conditions that the troll-human half-bloods are living in, she begins to be more sympathetic to their cause.
The premise of Stolen Songbird sounded so interesting when I first picked up this book: An underground city of trolls and a young girl working to break a curse. Also, it was compared to Seraphina, which I adored, and Graceling, which I didn’t enjoy that much but loved its YA epic fantasy feeling. This book is not a lot like either of those titles, though!
I have a problem with stories involving kidnap and imprisonment, no matter how comfortable the prison may turn out to be. I recently read Captivate, which had a similar kidnap-romance theme. I tried not to let my initial dislike overtake my reading experience, though! The story itself is quite a well-written start to this trilogy (why do I keep writing trollogy?) and hints at all sorts of ways that the story could progress.
Stolen Songbird is mostly told from Cécile’s point of view, but occasional chapters are told by Tristan. This does help the reader to see things as Tristan is experiencing them but when both points of view are written in first person, it really doesn’t work very well. Tristan’s voice isn’t so different to Cécile’s and I was a little confused at times. The story could have been told entirely from Cécile’s point of view without Tristan’s input – in fact I thought it took a lot of the romantic suspense away to know exactly what Tristan was thinking as the story went on.
On top of the point of view shifts breaking the tension, I found Tristan and Cécile’s romance itself to be kind of annoying. On top of the almost Stockholm-Syndrome feeling to their relationship, they were constantly jumping to the wrong conclusions and storming off from each other. I’ve seen a few reviews around that praise the romance as being gradual and lovely and so on.. I just don’t see it! Tristan treated Cécile absolutely terribly through most of the book and I would have thought that their empathic bond would have softened that, but she kept acting in a lovesick manner. It frustrated me!
Despite my problems with the main characters and their relationships, the other characters were varied and interesting and the action was actually very well written. I also thought the dual nature of the elemental magic systems was interesting. There’s plenty of political intrigue, secrets and betrayals throughout this story and hints at a much larger history for both troll and human societies.
Oh, and there’s a heartbreaking cliff-hanger ending! I’ll be looking out for the next book in this trilogy – despite my criticisms, I’ll be interested to know what happens next! This is a very promising debut from Danielle L Jensen and her writing style will continue to draw readers for her future stories.
– A promising debut that I didn’t enjoy as much as I thought I might, but you should give it a go – others have loved it.