Published: April 1st 2013 by Strange Chemistry
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.
"She foretold that when a prince of night bonded a daughter of the sun, the curse would be broken."
- Danielle L. Jensen
Thank you Netgalley and Strange Chemistry for providing me with a copy of this book!
Actual rating: 3.5 stars
Stolen Songbird is a novel I was dying to get into. Whether it was the cover or the premise of something original, something caught my attention and eventually got me to finally read it. Even though there's little voice in my head telling me it's a disappointment, I'm not going to review it as one. It's good, and I really got to enjoyed it despite my issues.
Starting off, I'd like to get straight into the issues. Without a doubt, Jensen has a writing style of her own. It's sometimes poetic and very easy to find a good quote. Maybe a bit too easy? What I'm trying to say, is that I think it's written in a way, that it was a struggle for me for a big part of the book. I wondered while reading if the main character talked like this even before she was kidnapped. If so, I really wonder how one could possibly talk like that all the time. It has this formality to it that makes both the dialogues and the characters in general feel not so realistic. I do realise that the author may have made this choice since the world has a royal feel to it. Yet, I'm still not happy with the way it was written. It certainly took a while for me to get used to, and by then I was already seventy percent in. The point of view was a smart choice, if only it hadn't been for little point of views we got from Tristan. They felt unnecessary and confusing, especially since I've been in Cécile's head for such a long time that I automatically read Tristan's point of view as if I were still reading Cécile's.
Moving on to the pace of the novel, I have to say that I really felt how long the book was. As with most of the books which lack a good pace, I was just kind of waiting around for the action to start and the book to get interesting. However when the world and pace did get interesting, I didn't feel the need to keep reading. It was only at the very end when the book turned into a fast-paced page turner.
The formal writing held me back from caring about many characters in this book. Almost none of them felt special or made their way into my heart. Furthermore, there were these characters who only seemed to be introduced as additional world-building because we didn't get to see much of them after they made their first appearance. Yet despite my little negativity on the characters of Stolen Songbird, the good things can't be ignored. The depth with each character is palpable. They are portrayed as individuals with a backstory, something I really liked.
The protagonist, Cécile, is a girl who's been a mess in the beginning because it's logical. She wasn't a badass who does everything in her power to get away from there. She's like the majority of us. If I got kidnapped to marry a mean troll, I will have a breakdown and cry when I want too. She's smart and waited until the time seemed right. She's not reckless or a Mary Sue, even though she has her talents. She's not special. She's normal, and I just loved that. Comparing her to the male lead, I don't have much good to say about him. Even though he was also a character with a backstory and a character you need to feel sympathy for, you don't. Or, I didn't. This made it hard for me when coming to the romance aspect of the book. There was already so much tension between the two from the beginning that I was so relieved when I got to see the start of their romance. Only, it developed in a way I didn't enjoy. There should have been a moment when one of the two says that their relationship is moving way too fast. None did. It seemed like Célice had a special case of the Stockholm syndrome and Tristan finally got off his period.
To me, the plot always seems to be connected to the pace. And since the pace wasn't that great, it already tells a lot about the plot itself. Some scenes were really predictable and unnecessary. At one point all we learn are the politics of Trollus. It's not something most readers look forward to, I think. Other than this, Stolen Songbird does have potential and a really original concept. It's not like I have ever read a book about trolls. Together with the ancient curse and the world, the author combined known elements in the YA world in a way that still creates something unique. It could have been done just a little better with the take on trolls. What I expected were those little, stereotypical "monsters" we know. What I got were humans with a little exception here and there. Further than this, I think that once the bonding happened, the plot started to drift off and went nowhere. Everything that happened didn't seem connected or happened for a certain reason.
The world has to be the best thing about this book. It grabbed me from the first moment Cécile walked in and described it all. A kingdom beneath the mountain. Seems like a huge rip-off from Erebor. Trust me; it's not. The entire time Cécile has been there, the world just has its royal feel. I just really appreciated this, since I don't get a lot to read about kings and queens. What matched this perfectly, was the discrimination of the half-bloods and the troll's opinions on humans. It's believable, I loved it. The Greek take on the novel may have been a bit random, but some of you know how much I love the tale of the labyrinth. Instead of a minotaur, we get a giant slug. This only works with the half-bloods being thrown in there, because it makes you realise how hard their lives are. The world pulled me in, and I really hope to see more of this in the sequel.
When I said that the world was the best thing, I had yet to discuss the ending. Without giving away any spoilers, it was intense and the last few chapters were real page-turners. I absolutely loved it. It makes me want to read the sequel, just because if the ending was so good, who knows, perhaps the sequel will be even better?
Stolen Songbird was an interesting novel, with a let-downs here and there. I'm currently crossing my fingers for a fantastic sequel. It has potential, the world is fantastic which I'd love to read more about, and would be a shame if it won't turn out to be a great trilogy.