Thursday, March 27, 2014

Review: Stolen Songbird

STOLEN SONGBIRD
The Malediction Trilogy #1
Danielle L. Jensen
Young Adult/Fantasy
436 pages
Strange Chemistry
Available April 1st
Source: eARC from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
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.


MY THOUGHTS
Stolen Songbird is everything we could hope for in a fantasy story, a richly complex world enhanced by the beautifully layered characters who inhabit it to ensure we’re captivated from first page to last. The dark and cavernous environment of Trollus is not as sprawling as some fantasy worlds, its more self-contained nature allowing us to wrap our minds around its layout with far more ease than is sometimes the case with fantasy novels. We’re also given enough history as to the how’s of the trolls’ curse so that the legs we’re standing on in this world feel solid beneath us, but the why’s are left a bit more up in the air, piquing our curiosity as our hearts and imaginations are taken on an unforgettable ride.

Cecile is an absolute delight, a fairly ordinary young woman in terms of physical strength who finds herself at the mercy of a group far stronger than she is, but yet she fights tooth and nail for her freedom in a way we can imagine ourselves doing were we taken against our wills. She’s easy to relate to from the onset, and while we admire the way she doesn’t simply roll over and expose her vulnerable belly to the more powerful trolls, where she impresses us most is the way in which she fights, knowing when to push and when to sit back, observe, and sort through information about her captors as it comes to her. She doesn’t give up on escape, but neither does she have tunnel vision with regard to it, letting herself get to know the trolls she’s surrounded by and opening herself up–albeit warily–to Tristan rather than holding her circumstances against him every moment of every day.

The romance is as stunning as the rest of the story, starting out largely antagonistic thanks to the kidnapping and the enormous secrets about where Tristan’s loyalties lie, but thanks to time and a bond that allows them to feel each other’s emotions, the two of them build something warm, beautiful, and so memorable as to guarantee they land themselves on our list of top fictional couples. The fact that they can sense what the other is feeling is a fascinating aspect, the assumption upon hearing such a thing being that it would allow them to fall in love faster, with the bond acting as a window to the other’s heart and soul they wouldn’t have had access to otherwise. What we find, however, is that the bond muddies their waters in the most striking way, forcing both them and us to look deeper at every emotion for not only what they’re feeling, but also the root cause of it. The result is a relationship that’s simultaneously strong and fragile, the two of them partners in every sense of the word but yet we feel how tenuous each emotion flowing between them is, understanding that the slightest tug will snap those threads free and leave both of them reeling.

Another aspect that makes the romance one we’re fully invested in is Cecile’s honesty despite the situation she’s found herself in, willing to display her trust in Tristan in order to win his in return. While Tristan is not as forthcoming with his secrets as Cecile is with hers, he’s at least honest about the fact that he’s keeping things from her, allowing her to know his dark corners exist without fully shining light upon them. The two of them together are a joy to read about, and though we might wish for a little bit more information in a couple areas (namely Tristan’s destructive brother Roland), overall this first installment is mesmerizing on a variety of levels. We’re left with hearts bruised but not broken, the strength of Cecile’s will, her ability to adapt to any situation, and her shining love for Tristan all giving us hope that book two will return to us what the end of this first book takes away.

Rating: 4.5/5
 
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This book was sent to me by the publisher free of charge for the purpose of a review
I received no other compensation and the above is my honest opinion.

43 comments:

  1. Oh yayy this review pleases me so much! I've had my eye on this one ever since I read the blurb and I was truly hoping it would be exactly the fantasy I wanted. You know I'm not the biggest romance fan, but even I could see myself rooting for this romance that you feel so strongly about! Excellent review, Jenny - I know I must be adding this one to my tbr now for sure!!

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    1. I LOVED this book Aylee! There's so much more to the story than just the romance, so I think you'll be a fan. At least I hope you are:)

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  2. Yeeehaw!! Tanja adored this to pieces and I'm so glad to see that you thought the same of it. This world sounds so unique and I can't wait to explore it. Good to know that the MC is relatable, she sounds like a fighter indeed. The romance kind of reminds me of UtNS which I love love love when it comes to the romance (and everything else, of course) ;) I'm so happy to see that you enjoyed this novel, Jenny!

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    1. I really hope you like this one Siiri! I just thought it was fantastic:)

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  3. I'm so glad you enjoyed this one, Jenny! I thought its technical qualities were impressive but I wasn't able to become emotionally involved in this one. Still, it's an incredibly promising start to this trilogy and I'm curious to see where the story goes. Great review, Jenny!

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    1. Definitely looking forward to book two:)

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  4. Considering that this is the latest raving review for Stolen Songbird, my Tanja loved it, you love it - now I really have to read it. :)

    Great review, Jenny.

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  5. Gorgeous review, Jenny. I've been so excited about this book for some time now, but unfortunately I missed out on it when it was available on NG, but I'm definitely buying a copy after reading your review. It sounds amazing and I can tell I'm going to be as impressed as you. I love the sound of the romance. It sounds fantastic and I sure do love a good slow-burn romance.
    Lovely review, Jenny!

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    1. Thanks so much Nick! I just adored this one and can't sing its praises enough:)

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  6. Woo-hoo for antagonistic relationships! Those really are my favorite (when they're done right). I've heard so many good things about this book, I'm thinking I've GOT to check it out. I have a feeling I'm going to be a fan of Cecile.

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    1. YES! My favorite. There can never be too many antagonistic romances as far as I'm concerned:)

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  7. I'm so glad you loved Stolen Songbird, Jenny. This was such a well crafted story and delight to read. Like you, I really enjoyed the fact that Trollus was an amazing fantasy world to escape to, but contained and not over overwhelming. And the romance *sigh*
    Beautiful review :)

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    1. Exactly! Sometimes with fantasy I struggle with the sheer scope of the world, but I found it easy to sort of map this one in my mind and understand the layout of it:)

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  8. I'm still on the fence of this one, Jenny. I've read some nonstellar reviews so I'm going to see what book 2 holds for this series before picking it up.

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    1. I just loved it Rummanah, I hope you decide to give it a try:)

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  9. Really looking forward to starting this one-- I have such great luck with fantasy and Strange Chemistry books lately! And I have to say, having read Deathsworn recently, another book that takes place in an cave/underground setting, this has become a fave setting of mine-- I loved the claustrophobic feeling and the tension

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    1. And the SWOON-- clearly I'm looking forward to THAT;)

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    2. I really enjoyed Death Sworn too! These caves are a bit more extensive it felt like, but still small enough that I could wrap my mind around everything easily. Loved it:)

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  10. Wonderful review Jenny, I have this on my audible wish list and love the sound of the world. I am glad to hear the characters and romance worked for you.

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    1. Thanks Kim! Can't wait to see what you think:)

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  11. The romance was just TOO adorable :D I'm not much of a romance-lover in most of my books, but I love how they started out hating each other :D haha. Cécile was such a remarkable character. I like how ordinary and normal she was, which made it so easy to connect with her :)

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    1. I'm always a fan of romances where they start out hating one another. It just makes me happy:)

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  12. Gorgeous review Jenny, I am so excited for this one!

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    1. Thanks Ali! Hope you love it as much as I did!

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  13. LOVE this book! I think the next one will be even better and I'm dying to read it. It's going to be intense until we (she) gets back, I think. So glad you loved this too!

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    1. I need book two immediately Candace. I want back in this world!

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  14. Okay, I'm all for high fantasy! This genre in just stealing my heart away!

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    1. ME TOO! I used to steer way clear of it, but now I can't get enough:)

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  15. Your review touched on all of the key elements that I look for in a good YA Fantasy novel, so it's pretty much a given that I'll be checking this one out. Thanks for the recommendation!

    Carmel @ Rabid Reads

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    1. YAY! I really hope you like it Carmel:)

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  16. Omg yes yes, it sounds great :D

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  17. I am so excited to read this. I have it coming up for review in a week or so and I have read so many great reviews. I am looking forward to the anatagonist romance and the world buildling and trolls! So glad to see you loved it.

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  18. Oh this sounds so perfect for me. I want to read this book! Cecile sounds like a great heroine! I usually hate it when characters are so secretive, but I do like that he is at least up front about it! I think I can handle that. Oh I want to read this one even more now!

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  19. Your reviews are always so eloquent! I love what you say about the small-scale fantasy world Danielle has created, and how her world-building doesn't have annoying info-dumping but it's not too vague either.
    I completely agree about Cecile - she's a wonderful heroine, strong and vulnerable in all the right ways. I like that she is always fighting for herself, but she sees the bigger picture and has so much compassion for others. I'm excited to see how she'll grow in the second book!

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  20. This sounds good. I don't mind having a simpler fantasy world. Sometimes it's like authors go overboard to make themselves seem more impressive. I do have trouble thinking of trolls as anything other than stupid giants though.

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  21. Oh, I hope I have this one ordered!! It sounds great, though I am having trouble imagining trolls as handsome. Still, I'm sure the book will convince me of the romance. I need some romance!!

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  22. I tend to hesitate when it comes to reading fantasy like this because the world-building is often daunting, but this one sounds ... easier. That sounds lazy, but sometimes I'm a lazy reader. lol

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  23. I try not to set myself up like this, but I've really been counting on this to be my next Big Deal YA fantasy book. It's traditional fantasy, there hasn't been a ton of hype, and it just looks and feels like my thing, you know? I'm glad it's living up to my ridiculous and unfounded expectations ;)

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  24. A fantastic review, Jenny! I agree 100% with it! I requested it cause I was very intrigued about the trolls since most fantasy novels deal with other creatures and races, and I was very happy to have found such a gem as this one!

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  25. Well you sold me on this one! Though that last sentence is worrisome. Sounds like there's some sort of cliffy or pulling apart that occurs?! But that entire romance paragraph made me desperate to get a copy of this. Now I'm kicking myself for not even having this on my radar. I should have requested a NG copy! I love the idea of a forced marriage leading to love between the couple. And the bonding sounds fascinating. I need this book in my life!

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  26. I am super excited for this book to come out!! I have the NG ARC but come on, I want the real thing in my hands!
    This is pure awesomeness!!! xoxox Thanks for sharing!
    New Follower
    Michelle ~ Book Hangovers Blabs Books

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  27. I agree that Cecile had the perfect balance between wanting to escape but knowing that she needs to plan her opportunities. I loved Marc and the twins though.

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