Stolen Songbird by Danielle L. Jensen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is the first book in the Malediction trilogy and its prospects are so far very promising. Again, I have to say this: it is a rare incident for me to read a book in one sitting and/or stay up until 4:30AM to finish it. The story was neither mind-blowing or thought-provoking but it sure was irresistibly riveting. It’s not the type that keeps readers on the edge of their seats with excitement but there wasn’t a boring moment and things were always happening. I liked that a lot occurred within that couple hundred pages and I certainly enjoyed the slow development of an actual relationship between two people. Sure, the romance is a central point to the story but politics and civil affairs are not shoved to the background and are very well-integrated.
Characters: Great!! I’m so glad that there aren’t too many or too few characters introduced in the novel and I enjoy that each of them have a role. I appreciated that they weren’t ”dropped or discarded’ later on but there were numerous people that never had their moment to shine or become as fully developed as I wished them to be. Well, no one can aspire for a 3-D character like from the Harry Potter series but it was such a shame to know that the minor characters weren’t as involved in the larger picture. Although the action was ever-present, the Lorien Legacies series had way too many characters to juggle and develop properly and I’m glad to not see SS not make a hash of it. Either way, I liked the different spectrums of trolls from the twin Baron/Baroness, Duchess/Queen, Marc, and Tip. I liked we readers gauged these characters’ personalities mainly from their actions and not from telling. The manipulative nature of the prince was reiterated and reflected by his deliberate planned acts: this, I figured out pretty early on so I was disgruntled that it took our heroine, Cécile, a while to glimpse past it. But that’s not to say that Cecile de Troyes is a dimwitted damsel in distress because she is in no way close to that! Sure, she is foolish and impulsive but I reckon that her situations is rather dire and merits rashness. If I was kidnapped, what would I do? Most likely try to escape just like her without thinking of the consequences because the taste of freedom is so sweet and it’s worth it. She had so much ahead of her in life and it may not seem like much to readers since it’s singing on a royal stage but think of it as the equivalent of college/Julliard to us! I especially cheered Cecile on when she bided her time and took advantage of what Trollus has to offer since she cannot simply sulk.
“I shoved my filthy sleeves into my mouth to muffle the sobs that I could not suppress. There was no way out. A shower of pebbles rained down onto the pool, and my howls cut off abruptly as I held my breath to listen. But nothing else stirred…The darkness was unforgiving and my frozen body refused to reach out to discover the limits of my circumstances. I was terrified. It was not like the terror of running from a wolf, always knowing you can turn and fight. It was not like the sense of drowning, where there is a chance to flee to the surface. From this darkness and this place, there was no escape. I could neither run nor hide, and no one can fight the dark. All there was left for me to do was die.
But the very idea of ending it here, interned in a pool of offal with an idiot like Luc, struck fury in my heart. I wasn’t injured or starving. There was hope yet.”
Tristan, the brooding, moody prince has such a compassionate, boyish personality and his banter with Cecile is always so adorably awkward. They’re very considerate of each other and the care they take to explain their words and understand one another is endearing. They often do not know what to say around each other which basically sums up every infatuated couple in the rudimentary stage of dating.
“He took hold of my shoulders and turned me towards a mirror. I stood frozen as he brushed my hair aside, his expression fixed with concentration as he undid the clasp and fastened it around my neck. My senses seemed magnified, and I felt everything keenly: the brush of his wrist against my shoulder, the warmth of his breath on my hair, the faint scent of apples on his hands.”
I liked that they interpret each others’ words differently because they care so much about feelings. Tristan’s point of view is always so refreshing and I enjoyed how they offered insight into different aspects of the plot. It also clarified Tristan’s actions because he is so contradictory sometimes but each act is so logically explained. I liked that his motives were laid out so clearly for readers but at the same time, I wanted unpredictability. Up to a certain point, I began to know how Tristan and Cecile would react accordingly to the current scenario. It would have been fine if circumstances turned out differently due to other factors but it seems these factors were not strong enough. Nevertheless, it was still fascinating to see everything unfold and maybe there’ll be a curve ball in the second book. At certain parts, the writing is excellent and the vivid descriptions of the city of Trollus was like art. But then some sentences in the book did not sit well with me and I squirmed at how off-key it felt for me. Notwithstanding, the writing was overall smooth and I think the author has a great talent for details and delineating great scenes.
“I wondered, as I walked towards him, if out in the brightness of the sun, he would seem as mortal as me. He was still beautiful handsome, like something out of a dream, but the coldness of that perfection was softened by anxiety, fear, and hope. Painful, painful hope.”
Myths: I found the interspersed information about trolls really interesting to learn about because many myths were debunked. You see, common legends dictate that trolls will turn stone when they encounter daylight, eat humans, are bulky, and revoltingly ugly. First of all, trolls are rather good-looking although there is insanity and physical deformities due to inbreeding. They have no problem with sunlight. Like…at all. Humans aren’t their food and they enjoy the finer delicacies in life just like us. They’re remarkably similar to a human in form except they can control magic.The ones Danielle Jensen acquaint us with deviate so much from what the myths inoculate so I feel that was a bit too far of stretch in terms of creative license. Spoilers ahead, highlight to reveal: The author gave her own twist on trolls and their origins…which alerted me to how these things don’t add up at all. There are too many disparities and the ‘trolls’ in this story can really be any other subhuman magical creature. I suspect they’re actually faeries and I’m 99% sure I’m correct because the author injects a huge dose of clues near the end.
I was a bit irked with the supposed plot twist not because they were obvious, but because of the way they were handled. The full impact was not there because the key problem laid in the ‘2-D villain’ that was poorly used as instrumental to the occurrence. Sorry, the threats that placed deadly harm on the characters were too convenient and derived on the spot/in the moment that it was obvious. I don’t know, I’ve been so used to reading about threats/villains that exist on the forefront or bear a strong presence without actually being there fully. (Does that make sense? I mean for a threat that is ever-looming and omnipresent in the story so that it is not simply used to throw danger and then dismissed easily.) However, there is a pervasive evil guy and he stands as the crux of all the obstacles. I look forward to knowing more about his motives and historical background in order to understand his drive in the sequel. There’s a lot that can be explained and improved upon so I want to see the second book “Hidden Huntress” serve as a crutch.
pLoT: I always want to discuss the storyline but I don’t see the point because that would spoil it and I’d prefer to rush in blindly. Stuff happens and it’s not boring. The romance is satisfying and matters a lot so people who don’t like too much mushiness may be put off. The fantasy premise is good but don’t read it just for that because there are other books suitable for that. I’m pleasantly surprised at this great debut and Danielle definitely trumps over Stacey Jay (author of Princess of Thorns & Of Beast and Beauty) in creating the perfect blend of fantasy and romance.
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