eARC provided by Net Galley in exchange for a fair review
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.
Stolen Songbird starts out like a fairy tale. We are introduced to our heroine Cécile, we learn that she is on the cusp of 17, and she is pretty and a singer and she has some issues because Mommy stayed behind in the city to sing, leaving her father and her siblings back in the countryside. On the way home to deliver the eggs needed for her birthday cake, she gets kidnapped and taken to Trollus where she learns she is to be wed and become a Princess for the sake of defeating a prophecy.
It isn’t really the best opening.
We learn very little about her or about her world before the story begins, so that when she is kidnapped, we don’t necessarily have much reason to be concerned for her well-being. Over time though, the author does do a good job of giving us reason to care about our heroine. She wants to help, she wants to escape, but she is also acutely aware of her very human limitations – she has trouble seeing without the help of light, she isn’t nearly as strong as the trolls, and the fact that her life is in danger from a King who despises humans and would have no problems killing her means that while she is reckless at times, it’s because she has so few moments in which to try and get things done.
There is a subplot here regarding “half-breeds” and how they’re slaves to the pure-blooded trolls and how there is a revolution building up that includes some pure-blooded troll sympathizers. These plots are never my favorite, but the author did manage to avoid making it a Statement about Something which is always appreciated. On the other hand, because this is the predominant plot, our protagonists don’t really spend that much time together and I really do end up questioning whether they’d have gotten together if not for the benefit of the empathic bond between them, because I’m not convinced his actions were enough to woo her over.
Finally, the author does do some interesting things with general troll mythology, taking the basics we know and making it her own (for example, explaining why Trolls have the appearance they do, and where they come from) which does show that the author did put some time and thought into her world, which is always appreciated.
This is a solid book that was a fun read; I think the more you are into fairy tales the more you may end up liking it. I didn’t quite buy into the love aspect so I’m not committed to reading the sequel, but I think there is a definite market for titles like this and I think those readers will really enjoy it.
Verdict: A strong Borrow It
Available: April 1st