Stolen Songbird – The Malediction Trilogy #1 – Danielle L. Jensen
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.
So what’s the first thing you think about when you hear the word ‘trolls’? I remember a set of toys I got from my grandma when I was young: little gnarled creatures with fluorescent hair. Since then that’s the first thing that comes to mind when I have to imagine a troll. The second image is the troll from the first Harry Potter movie, that big, ugly brute with huge amounts of snot clogging his nose.
Stolen Songbird is a book about trolls, but not the kind I described. When Cécile first encounters some trolls they are creatures with deformations. But not all of the trolls are like that, they are actually beautiful folk and the ones with deformations are only found in the royal family. The royal family does quite a bit of inbreeding and just like humans, that causes genetic mutations.
I was happily surprised by this. I had expected them to be beautiful somehow and not the ugly creatures I imagined, but it still gave an extra twist that not all of them are that way.
I liked Cécile as a main character. She is a normal teenage girl that is taken against her will to a hidden city, Trollus, which she thought only existed in myths and legends. But all of a sudden she is sold to the trolls because they think she can break the curse they’ve been living under for years. A prophecy foretold that if she married the Prince of Trollus, the trolls would be able to leave their city inside the mountain again. They’ve been locked inside there since a witch brought down a mountain on Trollus and cast a spell so that no one could ever leave.
Cécile’s reactions and ordeals were very realistic and I felt really sorry for her. She is treated like a piece of meat, just needed to serve a purpose and nothing more. It is horrifying for her and that emotion really comes of the pages. I felt connected with her through her sorrow and the panic she’s feeling. But there’s no way out for her.
The Prince of Trollus is a beautiful, young guy, which is a bit cliché and he’s a total ass, which is also a bit of a cliché in YA Fantasy. But although this total-ass-beautiful-Prince and normal-human-girl thing has been done many times before, I didn’t mind. The tension between Cécile and Tristan is palpable and their dialogues are pure entertainment. I liked them as a pair and though I knew Tristan would turn out to be good, they still made a great pair after that was revealed.
A good part of the story is dedicated to the politics of Trollus. If you’ve been following my reviews, you might know that I really like a story centered on politics and intrigue. When Cécile gets to know to workings of Trollus and its people, it’s pretty obvious that the normal people and the mixed bloods (partly human, partly troll) are being oppressed. That part of the civilization has to work in the mines, which is extremely dangerous, or clean the streets, just because they have little to no magic. The ones that do have magic serve the royal family or the more well-off families.
Cécile wants to help these people and gets involved in the brewing rebellion. Along the way Cécile discovers a lot about herself, about the history of Trollus and about the political games in Trollus. Her personal journey is really inspiring and I loved to see her growing in her roll.
Tristan is totally different from Cécile, he’s sneeky, because he has to be, growing up in a family like that, but he also has a heart of gold. He’s the paragon of a good leader, deep down.
There are some other entertaining secondary characters, like Cécile’s mixed blood handmaidens, some of the rebels and some of the royal family, like the Queen/Tristan’s aunt (they’re two people in one).
Trollus is described as quite a beautiful, but also very desolate city. Because there is no sunlight they can have no plants or flowers or anything like that. In the palace there is a glass garden, every plant meticulously made in the image of the real ones on the outside. This gave a magical touch to the otherwise ‘dark’ city, hidden under a mountain.
One thing that did bother me a bit was that the first few pages of the story are so fast paced. I always need some time to fully get in to a book and here it all just went way to fast for me. Before I was grasping who the main character was and how her life looked life, she was being kidnapped. I understand that the important thing are the events in Trollus in this book, but I would have liked to know something more about Cécile’s life outside of Trollus.
The book is full of exciting action and political and social engagement. The curse is a great backstory that weaves the story together and leaves us guessing about a few things at the end.
I wouldn’t say this is a new or very original story, it has been done before, but is has been done far worse before. I enjoyed reading it, it is an entertaining book for a fan of YA Fantasy.
Posted on May 26, 2014, in Danielle L. Jensen and tagged Angry Robot, Danielle L. Jensen, Hidden kingdom, Stolen Songbird, Strange Chemistry, The Malediction Trilogy, Trolls. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.