Stolen Songbird by Danielle L. Jensen
|Book Name:||Stolen Songbird|
|Author:||Danielle L. Jensen|
|Formatt:||Paperback / eBook|
|Genre(s):||YA Fantasy / Romance|
|Release Date:||April 1, 2014 (US) March 19, 2014 (UK)|
If you want a fantasy where two teens in an arranged marriage struggle to love each other, then read Stolen Songbird by Danielle L. Jensen.
First Cecile is kidnapped. Then she’s taken underground into a labyrinth that’s slick with the slime of slug beasts that sweat antimagic. Next she’s thrown into a city of human-hating trolls and forcibly married to their prince. She fights every step of the way. The worst still happens.
After moonlight inscribes a magical bonding over her wrist and her new husband’s, the trolls leer in. They all hope this loathsome union with a human will break the spell that has imprisoned them in their subterranean city. Nothing happens. Cecile is blamed for it.
Cecile had hoped to impress her mother, following her wayward slippers as an opera singer. Then Cecile was waylaid, sold to the trolls for her weight in gold. She struggles to find her place in Trollus City, or better yet, out of it. She has one advantage in politics, in that she can lie, while the trolls can only deceive. Cecile makes an applause-worthy play of intrigue. She also snoops around with her lock picking, a curios skill for an opera-trained farm girl. More believable is when she begins learning magic, from the tome of a witch who also had red hair. That witch cursed the trolls in the first place.
The trolls can never leave their city. They’ve had nothing to do for centuries except mine gold and craft beauty. A city of silver-glowing orbs, of waterfalls, of silence. Gardens of glass flash with color when Cecile sings. The trolls must escape their prison of rare elegance before overcrowding forms them into a rat-king.
The troll prince would rather his people smother themselves than be free to again terrorize the world. Prince Tristan has read the histories, the bloodbaths, the dominion of trolls. “Duty,” he says, “is what keeps selfishness from inheriting the earth.” His people were bound underground for a reason. I have to agree with him. It’s hard enough to have faith in humanity. The prince hides his motives, though the reader sees his design from scenes told from his first-person perspective. Getting too close to Cecile may break the curse, so he pretends to despise her.
She returns the disfavor, deceptively after she learns his true agenda. She hates the role. The arguments sting, even if feigned. The couple’s trial grows harder after Tristan begins to fall in love because of her voice. She plays the siren. An intense scene comes when she decides the prince should pay human agents to go to the surface to fake her death. Her parents would then have closure and stop searching for her.
The trouble is, the magically imprisoned trolls depend on human traders. The people that visit and the half-breeds they leave behind have no rights in Trollus. I am surprised how much the intrigue revolves around the liberties of half-trolls. Unions of the consensual variety seem common enough, in part because the trolls are so dashed handsome. At least Prince Tristan is.
Some have the gruesome deformities we’ve come to expect out of a respectable troll. Grotesque size. Mismatched face. Conjoined twins, for the iconic two heads. These come from the interbreeding of royalty. “Beautiful things that had the misfortune of being broken.” What most distinguishes a troll is power. They practically sneeze magic. Marriage to a lightless human, why, that’s a disgrace.
“I’d breed you to a sheep,” the king says to his son, “if it would set us free.” In the marriage, Cecile wears a gown of green with black onyx lace. Prince Tristan wears a scowl. He’s stuck between the rock of his father and a sense of duty. To break the curse, to preserve it, and to lead the rebellion of half-breeds against his own father.
Prince Tristan and Cecile are more than married. They’re bonded, their emotions forever linked by magic. Now the man is forced to feel all that the woman does. The synchronicity of shared feelings astounds them both. With this mental link, it’s strange that a few times the lead characters sneak up on each other. Later, they’re able to find each other in the dark.
Oh, and if one dies, they both do. To kill the powerful prince, an assassin only need choke Cecile.
Escaping Trollus would mean leaving Tristan’s protection, too. That’s still what Cecile plans to do, except that it grows more difficult every day she spends with him.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to take a stroll through a garden of glass. Who knows? The starless night is young. I may even break off a jasmine flower and drink wine from its crystal petals.