by Danielle L. Jensen
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*Buddy read with my wonderful friend, Kat*
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.
Okaaaaayyyy so…..a book about trolls? Really? I mean, come on. In what way could this possibly be appealing? And, even if it did appeal to my senses, how could a troll possibly be hotter than the sun our dear Cecile so desperately misses? I can’t answer these questions with coherent and well thought out answers, but I can assure you of one thing: Tristan. Was. Hot. This story? It was beyond addicting. Every single one of these characters had a way of getting under my skin that mirrored only my favorite stories, and that is very rarely an occurrence for me.
“They aren’t ugly.” I bit my lip, trying to find the right words. “More like beautiful things that have had the misfortune of being broken.” Tristan turned his face back to me. I saw the sorrow in his eyes and felt it in my heart. “Why are you always so unhappy?” I asked.
“I think it is our nature to believe evil always has an ugly face,” he said, ignoring my question. “Beauty is supposed to be good and kind, and to discover it otherwise is like a betrayal of trust. A violation of the nature of things.”
“Do you think trolls are evil?” I asked.
“Do you?” His eyes searched mine as though he might find the answer there.
“No,” I said. “I don’t.”
He exhaled softly, reaching up and stroking my cheek with one hand. “From your lips I can almost believe it’s true.”
It’s quite simple, really…Cecile is stolen from everything she has ever known, dragged ‘leagues’ downward to the passed over and only rarely mentioned city of Trollus where all the Trolls are trapped because of a curse some witch cast on them a long time ago. And how might they break this curse, you ask? Well, it is foretold that if a daughter of sun (who sings) and a son of night (prince) are brought together in marriage, that the curse will be lifted. Or so they think…
“I wish I was not what I am.” His voice was twisted with anguish. “I wish I was not who I am. I wish I had met you in different circumstances, in a place far away from here, where there is no magic, politics, and deception. Somewhere where things could be different between us. I wish I was someone else.”
Cecile doesn’t want to be a troll’s wife and she doesn’t want to sleep in the same bed as her newly (forced) betrothed. So she does what any good wife would do: She plots. She plots and researches and waits for her moment to escape. She waits to capitalize on the mistakes of the city around her and, most importantly, her husband. But this is probably the largest problem with her whole plan: He can feel her. Every emotion. Every flinch of pain. He can feel if she’s becoming deceptive or if she’s hiding something…but can he ever really know?
“That was only part of it.” I barely heard him speak his voice was so quiet. “I was afraid…I am afraid of loving you, knowing that someday you will go and leave me here.”
Trolls can’t lie, but humans can. Oh sure, they can deceive. They can mislead. They can lead someone off the edge of a cliff or push them off themselves, but they can’t directly lie. Thus making for one of the biggest problems for our romantic duo throughout the whole story. Even hate at first sight can lead to something when you see them for what they truly are. Forced together when neither of them wanted each other, they form a bond they never anticipated. They forged an understanding. They had a common thread that linked them and, ultimately, bonded them.
“Ha ha,” Tristan snorted. “How dreadfully clever. And speaking of clever, is this to be your bid for escape?” He contemplated my clothing. “In a dressing gown and bare feet? Now tell me, if I go put on nightclothes and slippers, might I join you, or is this a solo adventure?”
On the outside they loathe one another. They walk through the city’s streets and ignore one another until absolutely necessary and even then share minimal exchanges unless venom is spitting through their teeth. But they can’t hide what’s on the inside: The pain. The turmoil. The misery. The longing. The secret ‘you aren’t so bad’ thoughts. No, it’s all fun and games until you realize you are starting to befriend and care for the other person. And when you have enemies hidden in plain sight within the city, you can’t afford to show that you’re falling for her, not when your carefully planned ruse could so easily crumble-Or when she could so easily be used to bring you to your knees….we wouldn’t want that…would we?
Tristan was by far my favorite character, that much was certain. But it’s not often I can say I loved the female lead almost as much-Cecile was strong-willed, stubborn and she made mistakes. Costly mistakes. But because of these mistakes, we got to know both her and Tristan on a deeper level. We got to see my favorite thing about any story-I’ve only said about one hundred times that I love seeing a desperate male lead saving the damsel in distress in the fashion that he could lose his life in exchange-and I haven’t gotten to see that in action for a long long time….not in such a dramatic fashion, anyway. In short-I loved how every perilous situation was handled in this book. The author didn’t shy from the nasty things or the bloody things and, no, there wasn’t necessarily an abundance of those either, but all in all I loved seeing it play out and the desperation and love that was brought forth in these situations. Seeing Tristan and Cecile fall for one another both warmed and broke my heart….because they can only be used as pawns against one another…did I mention I loved that?
Dying was an easy thing to accomplish, effortless in its agony. It was living that was hard, requiring endless toil and labor, and for all one’s efforts, it could be stolen in an instant.
Normally I would touch on what my complaints were for the story, but I really didn’t have any. Like…at all. I really enjoyed this and found it was very difficult to put down at any cost. This was everything I love in a story and then some. Very rarely do action and peril meet my standards alongside the romance within the same story. I never would have guessed that a book such as this would become an instant favorite of mine, but it has and I can’t seem to find the words to explain just how great this book was. It was addicting, heartbreaking, hopeful, fun, action-packed, and sweet. I fell in love with the world and what they were trying to do-the lies, the deception-all for the greater good. I am obsessed with these characters and can’t wait to see how their story continues. My only hope is that it isn’t too long of a wait before I can see what becomes of these wonderful characters with so much to lose.
“This all seems like a dream now, but like every dream, eventually you must wake.”
*Sorry-my review was more factual than fun, and I hate that-but I’m so tired…and it shows.*
|Reading Order & Links:
Amazon (click on covers), iBooks (click on titles) & Book Depository (click on book #)
Stolen Songbird #1
Hidden Huntress #2
Hidden Huntress #3