February 16, 2014 by mmileti
Release Date: April 1st 2014
Stolen Songbird is an absolutely wonderful edition to the fantasy genre. The book is full of magic, adventure, outlandish creatures, and at its heart is one of the most touching love stories I have ever read. It is Jensen’s debut book, and the first book in the Malediction Trilogy. It is being marketed in the YA genre, and in this case I think that this is pretty far off the mark. High School age students will be able to enjoy this book, but I think that it will work just as well, or perhaps even better, for an adult audience. I do admit that this is most likely a book that will be more enjoyable to women, but I am getting awfully tired of books written by women in the fantasy genre always being classified as YA. This novel has plenty of violence, some of it quite graphic, and some very mature themes. I also want to point out that even though this book involves a love story, it is not a romance novel. It is full of intricate world building, political intrigue, and adventure as well.
The story follows a young woman named Cecile who is planning to leave for the big city to have her mother train her to be a famous singer. Instead, on the day Cecile is supposed to leave her small hometown, she is kidnapped and taken to a hidden city beneath a fallen mountain. She soon learns that Trolls, a society of unearthly creatures, have purchased Cecile and plan to marry her to their Prince in order to fulfill a prophecy. Cecile discovers that the monstrous creatures of Trollus are far more than they first appeared to be, especially her new husband Tristan. In fact, many of them are not monstrous at all. She becomes torn between finding a way to escape the mountain and rejoin her family, or uncovering the many secrets of Trollus and the Trolls themselves. Cecile must make her decision fast because the more she stays, the more attached she becomes to Tristan, and if she takes too long she may never be able to leave.
This novel takes a very old fairytale cliché, and turns it into a stunningly original and beautiful story. Jensen’s descriptions of Trollus are beautiful and fuelled by a wonderful imagination. She has combined all the elements that I look for in a good story in this novel, and put them into a plot that is fast-paced and will leave you on the edge of your seat. I have not read a novel that I enjoyed this much in years, and I haven’t cared for a book’s characters so much since I was a child reading fantasy for the first time.
As a critic, I am trying to take a step back and find things to criticize about this book despite the fact I loved it so much. I know that not everyone will enjoy this story so much, as it seems that the author perfectly tailored it to my interests. I do know that not as many men will enjoy this book as women. This is in part because more women pick up YA books than men, and also because not very many men will pick up a book with romance in it. But, for any men thinking of picking up this book, the romance does not overwhelm the plot. There are plenty of other things to enjoy about this book, and I think that Jensen’s world building will fascinate any person who enjoys fantasy. The prose is not excessively flowery, and it is not a book like Guy Gavriel Kay’s that has a lot of depth, but Jensen is incredible at bringing the reader into the story. She really makes you feel like you are there under the mountain with Cecile, and you feel the same wonder as she discovers Trollus’ hidden beauty.
So obviously I really like this book and I am going to go ahead and give it a 9/10. This is the highest rating so far!
I received a copy of this book from Netgalley and the publisher in return for an honest review.