Author: Danielle L. Jensen
Series: The Malediction Trilogy, #1
Cécile de Troyes dreams of being a professional singer. Her voice is the only means she has to connect with her much-absent mother, and so her happiness is complete when she is offered the opportunity to study under her. But other forces have different plans. Cécile is kidnapped and taken to Forsaken Mountain, where she discovers that the legendary city of Trollus is real. Sold and forced into marriage to the troll prince Tristan, Cécile can only bide her time until an opportunity to escape presents itself. But where Cécile expects monsters, she finds an oppressed people hoping for freedom and a curse the trolls believe only she can break.
“‘Do you think you can get away?’ The question came from above. I looked up and saw Guillaume sitting on the edge of a roof, leaning back on his hands with ankles crossed. A shudder ran through me. They were toying with me, like a pair of cats with a mouse.
But I was no mouse.”
Cécile is no damsel in distress. She understands her situation, that only patience can help her succeed in escaping. Despite Tristan’s beauty, Cécile is not taken to swooning. I tire of protagonists swooning simply because an attractive male makes eyes at her. In my estimation, one of the most valuable aspects of literature is that it lacks concrete visualizations, and the reader is free to delve deeper into a character rather than be distracted by his or her looks. The time Cécile spends in Trollus changes her and because of her kindness she finds herself invested in the lives of these people. Her faith in the people of Trollus is in direct opposition to Tristan’s own views, but this fact does not make her own opinion waver.
Tristan, heir to the Trollus throne, plays a dangerous game. His father, like many others, despises the very existence of humanity. Tristan, on the other hand, has taken it upon himself to be a different leader who does not discriminate against those of mixed blood. But he must do this in secret and his inability to lie makes it even more difficult. Despite these complications, Tristan shows himself to be a clever challenger to his father’s reign. I found the few chapters told from his perspective very gripping and only wish more of them were devoted to his point of view.
Stolen Songbird‘s greatest strength is its picture of Trollus, where half-blooded trolls are treated as slaves but lack the power to rise against those oppressing them. But this picture is not black and white, for there are sympathizers on both sides and servants loyal only to those they serve. The politics are complicated and at every turn the rebellion brewing underground is in danger of exposure. I liked the fact that Cécile and Tristan’s relationship wasn’t the be-all and end-all of the story, and both characters in their own way recognize the bigger picture.