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StolenSongbirdReleased: 2014

Cécile de Troyes is very different from the other women in her small rural village in more ways than she could have possibly imagined.

Life for the inhabitants of Goshawk’s Hollow entails long hours of manual labour, and hardly anyone leaves. Unhappy with the prospect of enduring a monotonous life in a place where she is expected to be an unambitious housewife, Cécile works tirelessly towards a singing career alongside her famous mother in Trianon. Her dream almost becomes a reality, but a fellow villager called Luc kidnaps her from home on the eve of her departure. Luc violently transports Cécile to a mysterious and dangerous location, which turns out to be a city most people believe to be mythological: the lost city of Trollus. The home of the trolls is buried beneath the partially collapsed Forsaken Mountain, carrying a curse placed upon it by a witch five centuries ago. The trolls are confined to the broken mountain until the curse is lifted, and one of their prophecies predicted that the magical bonding of Prince Tristan and a human is the key to freedom.

Cécile soon discovers that she is part of a bargain Luc made with the trolls. She must marry Prince Tristan because she resembles the description of the curse-breaker in the prophecy, and Luc receives his body weight in gold for bringing her to Trollus. Things don’t quite go according to plan, leaving the trolls angry and disappointed.

Initially desperate to escape, Cécile refuses to accept the responsibility of cracking the curse. However, she learns the complex politics of Trollus and how the dark pasts of humans and trolls are closely connected. She witnesses the struggles of the half-bloods (those with both troll and human blood) and their second-class status in Trollus, and the cruelty of the aristocracy she has forcibly been married into. Her rocky relationship with her sarcastic and unfriendly husband further adds to her complicated feelings, but Cécile makes some true friends in Trollus who help her face many difficult decisions.

Can she really learn to love Tristan despite being married to him against her will? Should she betray her new in-laws and aid the half-bloods’ rebellion, risking not only her own life but Tristan’s as well? Should she find ways to break the witch’s curse? Or should she escape and turn her back on Trollus forever? The trolls frequently surprise Cécile, making her position increasingly difficult and painful as she becomes more deeply involved.

Stolen Songbird is a stunningly written fantasy adventure and is only the first in Danielle L. Jensen’s Malediction Trilogy. Cécile grows into a remarkable young heroine throughout the novel, and she still has a lot left to fight for when the story concludes. One thing’s for certain: she’s not going to give up until she gets what she wants. 

★★★★★

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