by Danielle L. Jensen
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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.
What I loved in Stolen Songbird can be summed up by the sentence above. Indeed, what’s better than a book which shows the ability to surprise you?
“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.”
✘ What you expect : Regular Trolls
✔ What you get : WIN! Absolutely not the ugly and stupid creatures Trolls are known to be.
Now, I know a big amount of readers were annoyed by the fact that the Trolls aren’t like we could expect but come on. COME ON. Regular Trolls? They’re so fucking lame and stupid. I mean, how in the world could I have been interested in the story if the Trolls were what we’re told they are in other fantasy books? How? During what I love to call my “fantasy days”, when the only books I read except for the classics I studied in Uni were fantasy books, I met a lot of Trolls, and let me tell you, I never ever felt a spark of interest toward them. Never. The guys are morons big ugly creatures used as villains more often than not, and damn, I grew tired of this shit. The “Special Guy” (yes, guy, because have you noticed that Special Girls aren’t that frequent in Fantasy?) must fulfill the World Saving mission he’s been asked to? He met fucking Trolls in the journey. And let’s the battle begin. Sigh.
▶ Excuse me if I prefer BY FAR the way Trolls are portrayed here : clever, designed to rule the world, filled with magic, not sexist (yes, that’s important), and, yes, “handsome”, because it seems to be the major problem for a lot of persons. Not for me. Oh, wait. Am I the only one who think that a lack of symmetry can be completely freaky? Okay, Tristan is handsome. And I’m not complaining because let’s face it : I don’t ship overly beautiful male-leads but come on : a troll like I used to read about in fantasy would have been an awkward love interest, I must admit, because they are STUPID MORONS, remember. Is it bad if I hope that Tristan had more scars, though? Yeah? Well, sue me.
✘ What you expect : A conceited Troll Prince who’s going to fall in love at first sight.
✔ What you get : WIN! The incarnation of what I love in male-leads, no less.
Let me tell you, Tristan is THE guy, as he is *take a huge breath* sarcastic, strong-minded, protective but not creepy, sexy, adorable and selfless. He is Ash’s material, and I’m weighing my words here. One could say that he’s far too perfect, but in my opinion he’s not, because he does have flaws. The thing is, his flaws are the kinds that I love. He hides the truth and doesn’t give his trust easily? Thanks god he doesn’t! He’s a master of deception? I ship that. In life and in books, I often find myself hating when people tell stories about themselves, about the way they are, so special, little things, while their acts say otherwise. In my opinion, Tristan shows bravery, the real courage that is to accept to show a sick image of himself to protect those for whom he cares, as Jérôme says. Oh, and he made me laugh. And swoon. And ache.
“The one, the only, as they like to say,” Tristan said affably, brushing off his coat where I’d bumped into him.
“Which ‘they’ would that be?” I asked.
“Oh, you know. Them.” He waved a hand in the air, dismissing the question.”
Annnnd I’m leaving it at this otherwise my review would only be more and more declarations of love for Tristan, and you don’t want to read this, do you?
✘ What you expect : A TSTL heroine with no other purpose that falling in love
✔ What you get : WIN! A brave and funny female-lead we can relate to.
▶ Cécile is full of awesomeness. Oh, look at this : Cécile. I still don’t understand why all the names are French in this book but that cracked me up at the beginning, because what is supposed to look exotic feels just … random to me. But then, I agreed with a friend the other day because as a fantasy reader I’m sometimes appalled by the names which are chosen, Terkana, Urkira, Putrok (I’m totally creating these), so the way they used French names here is somehow refreshing. French’s exotic, guys. Or not, buuuut that’s another story.
“Oh? And what feelings, pray tell, does this represent?”
I lifted my chin and looked him straight in the eye.
“My feelings for you, dear husband.”
So, Cécile. Let’s make a little list of what I loved in her, shall we?
• Be careful, because that might astonish you, but the girl has a life she doesn’t want to leave behind, and her opinion doesn’t change when she meets the magnificent Tristan. I know, I know, how fierce of her, right?
• She’s never TSTL in my opinion. I mean, yeah, she does make mistakes and knows some instant-jerk reactions, but even if I was worried and mad at some point, never, at any moment, wasn’t I able to understand why she reacted in such way. Actually, she reminds me of Megan from The Iron Fey series, and although I realize that a lot of readers didn’t like her, I always thought that her mistakes were understandable and above that, fucking realistic. Have you never react without thinking of the consequences because you were upset? Nope? Ha, if that’s the case, you’re far better than me in a lot of ways.
• She’s not straight-on bitchy to other women, and she manages to develop girls friends. Fuck YEAH!
• She knows how to defend herself from sarcastic comments *rubs hands*
✘ What you expect : Instalove & Instalust, if you’re lucky like that.
✔ What you get : WIN! A realistic, cute and adorable romance.
▶ Indeed I absolutely loved how their feelings gradually increase, without the sudden trust that never fails to annoy me in several YA books, nope. They’re bonded together? Correct. Do they trust each other first time they meet? Oh, Fuck no, because you know what? Trust must be earn, as in real life : how amazing is that? Moreover, the “I’m going to let everybody think that I hate you” trope? I’m such a sucker for that shit!
✘ What you expect : A story focused on the main characters
✔ What you get : WIN! Interesting and well-portrayed secondary characters
✘ What you expect : A slow-paced, about 500 pages read
✔ What you get : WIN! Such a page-turner that you wonder how in the world it could really be 500 pages.
To say that the story was captivating would be an understatement : the plot is well-wrapped and the ending brings just the right amount of closure and angst, making you want to read the sequel immediately.
✘ What you expect : Miscommunication driven angst
✘ What you get : FAIL! Miscommunication driven angst
▶ Lack of communication driven angst never fails to piss me off, and Sigh. There was a moment where I was both worried and mad, because while I could understand Cécile’s instant-jerk reactions, I was appalled at the same time because never before she let her temper drive her actions. What? I wasn’t expecting that, dammit, she didn’t make me accustomed to such behavior!
Annnnd that’s where I’m feeling unfair because let’s face it, if she had made me used to this kind of stupid (sorry, but it WAS stupid) behavior I wouldn’t have loved her but she didn’t so I did like her and then I felt stabbed in the back. Oh, well. I’m just going to accept that sometimes I’m worse than a spoiled child. There.
Moreover, as much as I appreciate the fact that the secondary characters were multi-layered (Anaïs included), I failed to understand some of their reactions at some point, reactions that I found out of character.
✘ What you expect : Unoriginal plot and world-building
✘ What you get : I can’t say that the plot isn’t original, it wouldn’t be true. However I can’t deny either that the world contains many similarities with The Iron fey series. As it is, I can’t really complain because hell, I loved this series, but I would feel dishonest if I didn’t bring this issue.
• A human MC in a world ruled by magic
• These people can’t lie, and their promises are unbreakable, because you’re bonded by them
• A hero who isn’t who he seems at first, and acts as he hates the heroine to protect her
• The Trolls can be wounded by iron.
• There is a Summer and a Winter Court.
There. The similarities ARE here. Now, did they prevent me from enjoying the story? Of course not. Writers always take inspiration in other works, and that’s for the best, if they don’t end copying another book’s plot and calling it their own. Here it’s far from plagiary, therefore I’m completely okay with that.
PS : A friend just told me that some readers thought that the Trolls here might be Fae in disguise. That’s a smart theory, which would explain a lot of things. I guess we’ll see 🙂
“Correct again. Remind me to choose you for my team if we ever play charades. I like a stacked team.”
|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