Monday, April 7, 2014

Review: Stolen Songbird by Danielle L. Jensen

Release date: April 1, 2014
Author info: Website | Twitter | Facebook
Publisher: Strange Chemistry
Pages: 489
Format: Egalley
Source: Publisher provided through Netgalley
Buy the book: Barnes & Noble | Amazon | The Book Depository
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.
You know those books that just work for you, on every level? There aren't too many of those for me, but Stolen Songbird is absolutely added to the ranks. With an imaginative mythology, a plot filled with political intrigue, characters who fight tooth and nail for what they believe in, and one of the most swoon-worthy romances I've read in a while, Stolen Songbird is an excellent read that had me from the first page and still hasn't let go.

It's hard to not to visualize the creatures under the bridge when you think of trolls, isn't it? But Stolen Songbird's trolls run the gamut. There's the gruesome and hideous but there's also the irresistibly beautiful, like Tristan. The mythology here is really interesting, with the trolls only under the ground because of the curse of a witch and "troll" being only a human name the trolls accepted. The dynamics between full-blooded and half-blooded trolls are complicated and precariously balanced, with a lot of resentment between the groups. It's such an interesting setup that delivers a hefty and satisfying dose of political intrigue and will likely get even better in the next book.

Cecile is definitely not happy to be in Trollus, because she was supposed to venture out into the larger world the next day to become a singer, and she lets her unhappiness be known, resisting when she can. She's got spark and an unwillingness to listen to what others want her to do. Even though she doesn't want to be in Trollus, she soon falls in love with the place and the people. She can't ignore the plight of the half-bloods, because they suffer for something that isn't their fault, their humanity. Tristan seems infuriating and cocky at first, but his outside hides his true feelings and his plans for the future. They're big plans--but they show his true nature, one of kindness, sympathy, and a hatred of seeing the half-blood trolls suffer under his father's reign. The two are a good mix, with similar goals but very different methods.

And honestly, it's their romance that makes this book so fantastic, and I'm perfectly happy to admit that. It develops at a perfect pace that is just frustrating enough without making you crazy, and it is so lovely in that development. Cecile and Tristan have the perfect kind of bickering rapport, even as that fighting becomes simply a front for Cecile's protection. They want to love one and protect another so badly, but there's just so much in the way that it's hard to make a reality. But, oh, when you get to those romantic moments, you will want to swoon and clutch your heart, because it's just so lovely, beautiful, and heart-breaking to see.

Stolen Songbird is a beautifully-written story of trust, love, belonging, and friendship that appeals to your imagination and tugs at your heartstrings. Even though it's almost 489 pages long, I read over 450 of them in one sitting, not quitting until 6 a.m., and only because I forced myself. I just couldn't put it down, and even when there were no more words to read, I didn't want to extract myself from Cecile and Tristan's story.

About the author:

Danielle was born and raised in Calgary, Canada. At the insistence of the left side of her brain, she graduated in 2003 from the University of Calgary with a bachelor’s degree in finance. But the right side of her brain has ever been mutinous; and in 2010, it sent her back to school to complete an entirely impractical English literature degree at Mount Royal University and to pursue publication. Much to her satisfaction, the right side shows no sign of relinquishing its domination.

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