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Apr 09

Stolen Songbird – Danielle L. Jensen

About the Book

For those who have loved Seraphina and Graceling comes another truly fabulous fantasy…

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.

469 pages (paperback)
Published on April 1, 2014
Published by Strange Chemistry
Author’s webpage

This book was provided for me to review by the publisher.

Stolen Songbird is the first book in the new young adult Malediction Trilogy. I will admit up front that the entire reason I wanted to read this book was because I think the name of the trilogy is just absolutely amazing. This is also Jensen’s very first book. Huzzuh.

This book tells the story of one Cecile, a young woman coming into her own. Her childhood has been fairly wonderful, despite her mysterious mother who abandoned her for a career on the stage. She has had wonderful tutors, and has a lot of talent. She is also beautiful beyond measure and everyone who sees her loves her. Add to that a dose of cleverness, and you have a pretty stereotypical protagonist that you can probably find in many young adult romantic fantasy books. However, Cecile differs a bit. While her overall description is pretty bland, the truth is, this is a protagonist I ended up enjoying more than I expected, probably as much due to her unique situation, as the creation of her.

The truth is, so much of this book felt like so many other books I’ve read before. The beautiful farmer’s daughter, completely unsuspecting, falls into a situation that lands her in the middle of everything political that goes right over her head until she finds her courage and takes a stand. Love is found and fought for, politics are waded through, and we all pretty much know exactly how it will end at the halfway point. The challenge with books like this isn’t in making me shocked, the challenge is handing me a story that I’ve read before, and keeping me interested and engaged despite that.

For the most part, Jensen really succeeds at that. The city of Trollus is absolutely fascinating. The politics are interesting, and the way society has changed and transformed from their time under the mountain is nothing short of fascinating. I actually deeply enjoyed the thought that Jensen put into her world building, and how all of the cultural nuances effected politics. The city itself was one richly developed interconnected stew of political games that truly affect everything, and I really mean everything. For a young adult book, I was surprised and absolutely enchanted by just how much thought Jensen put into Trollus. Readers will explore many important issues from race relations, cultural clashes, politics, arranged marriages, inbreeding, physical disfigurement and just about everything else. I think it is important for readers to face these issues in the books they read, and I applaud Jensen for filling hers with them in such a graceful, thought provoking way.

Tristan, the prince and love interest of the novel is much like his counterpart Cecile. He is everything you’d expect – an alpha male, dark haired with an air of mystery. He’s got the biting sarcasm that hints at the swoonworthy softie underneath. He’ll appeal to a wide variety of readers. I, however, had an issue with him, which is probably a reflection of my column Special Needs in Strange Worlds. In a world full so many fascinating, complex issues, I felt like Tristan could have reflected that in some way. Most of his relatives are disfigured somehow, so why isn’t he? Instead he’s tall, dark, handsome, and a man that will make anyone want him. For some reason that disturbed me more than it should have. I can see why she made him that way, but really, I would have far more enjoyed a character that reflected the social standing more. And, I have to admit, when so many people around him were disfigured, I found it hard to believe that he wasn’t.

The plot moved at a quick clip. Some events will be more believable than others, but the smooth flow of Jensen’s writing, her incredibly built world, and some interesting twists sprinkled throughout will keep you hooked. Stolen Songbird is a fast, engaging book to read. You really can’t put a price on that. Is it a very surprising book? No, but that’s not why you read it. It’s a lovely coming of age tale with a predictable, but fun romance thrown in, mixed with some truly important social issues. For a first book, and a young adult book, it is very ambitious and it really holds up.

Despite my qualms, Stolen Songbird is well worth your time, and was surprisingly well written, and very well thought out, far beyond what I expected from a first effort. Jensen has a promising career if she stays on the path she’s set herself on. I’m excited to see where she takes this series next.

 

3/5 stars

m4s0n501

2 comments

1 ping

  1. Bibliotropic

    Agreed on the issue of Tristan and his appearance. I confess to a bit of an eye-roll when he’s revealed; OF COURSE he’d be handsome and wonderful and gorgeous when others aren’t so much. He’s the love interest, and we can’t have a love interest who isn’t physically attractive. It wasn’t exactly clear why he was so attractive, either, when other trolls were disfigured. Maybe that’s something that’s going to get addressed later, maybe it was an oversight, I don’t really know. Jensen does seem to have a bit of a knack for writing in layers, so it may well be an intentional thing that’s going to get explored in the sequel(s).

  2. Nathan (@reviewbarn)

    Quick Sarah, your five favorite trolls? Just because.

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