I received a review copy of this book from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Series: The Malediction Trilogy #1
Published by Strange Chemistry in 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Buy the Book • Goodreads
And now, for the book that everyone’s been talking about… Stolen Songbird by Danielle L. Jensen.
I swear that all the book bloggers got sick at the end of February and read the exact same book at the exact same time. That’s what it felt like on Twitter, anyway, as everyone was struggling to feel better and raving about the awesomeness of this book.
In a nutshell, it’s about a teenage farm girl who dreams of a better life. Cécile is preparing to leave her small town, move to the city, and begin a singing career, but then she gets kidnapped and sold to trolls. Within the space of a day, her entire world is shattered. The trolls have a prophecy that a union between a read-headed human and a troll will be the key to lifting the curse that confines them to their underground city, and so Cécile is forced to marry the troll prince. Marriage for trolls involves a kind of magic that binds the two partners together and allows them to feel each other’s emotions.
The troll king confirms every stereotype about trolls that Cécile has ever heard, but the prince is different. Tristan believes in a better world where halflings are not subjugated, and he is secretly the leader of a rebellion. He didn’t marry Cécile by choice, and did so only to appease his father. Tristan comes to regret what’s been done to Cécile, and similarly, Cécile begins to realize that the trolls aren’t all evil. She can see their desperation and their hope for a different kind of life, and realizes what breaking the spell would mean to them. Tristan and Cécile fall in love, despite the fact that logically neither of them thinks that they should.
I loved this book on so many levels. First of all, there’s Cécile’s family life. Her father and mother met in the city, and when her father inherited the farm, her mother chose to stay in the city and continue her career as an opera singer. She pretty much abandoned her family, although Cécile doesn’t view it that way and realizes that her mother would never have been happy if she would have moved to the country. I think that the mother is a selfish witch and that there’s a lot more going on with her than was revealed in this book, which is one of the reasons why I’m waiting (impatiently) for the sequel to come out.
And then there’s the relationship between Tristan and Cécile. It could have ended up being a blown-up case of Stockholm Syndrome, but it didn’t. For a long time, Cécile thought of nothing but escape and viewed Tristan as a rather attractive monster. Tristan viewed Cécile as an afterthought and a liability to his revolution. As the two get to know each other and challenge their assumptions about each other, Tristan realizes that Cécile has never been given a choice about her fate, and he realizes that she has to choose him of her own free will before any sort of relationship could work. It reminded me a lot of “Beauty and the Beast.”
And then there’s the fact that the entire prophecy/destiny thing doesn’t go according to plan. It’s almost a trope in a lot of fantasy novels that you have a character with a special destiny who has a mission to change the world. Here, you have two characters with an obvious destiny, and they’re forced together in the early chapters of the book to break a curse and it doesn’t work. You’ve got characters who are screwed over by other people’s beliefs in destiny who want nothing more than to live their own lives on their own terms, and now they have to make the best of it. It’s so different than what’s usually done.
Stolen Songbird is mindblowingly amazing, and if I haven’t stressed it enough, you all need to read it ASAP. This is one of the best books of the year.