Title: Stolen Songbird
Author: Danielle L. Jensen
Genre: Romantic Fantasy Young Adult
Publisher: Strange Chemistry
Pages: 436 Paperback
Copy Origin: ARC via NetGalley
Stolen Songbird was a pleasantly surprising, intelligent romantic fantasy. I’m usually wary of books that are compared to other books in their summaries, but in this case, I think the comparisons to Graceling and Seraphina are well made.
In some ways, Stolen Songbird avoids a lot of annoying tropes. There’s no insta-love, neither is there a love triangle or a heroine who constants berates herself as ugly or nothing special. On the other hand… well, I expected the troll Prince to be nothing special himself, at least to look at. And in the beginning I thought that would be the case: Some of the trolls are deformed, such as the King and his wife.
But not, apparently, their son. He’s inhumanly handsome and, of course, kind of a huge jerk (although in fairness to the story, it’s because he pretends to be literally to protect his own life, so I was willing to overlook that after a time.) I was kind of disappointed that the love interest was naturally good looking, because for all the tropes Stolen Songbird doesn’t utilize, I’d been hoping that would be another.
I was also, frankly, very tired of how back and forth Cecile and Tristan went in their development and interactions. One moment they make some headway, and then it’s taken away by another development. I understand that it shouldn’t be easy, but when a certain event seemingly only happens in order to make your MC get upset and run off so other plot things can happen, well… it does get tiring.
For all that those minor details bothered me, though, there’s plenty else to recommend Stolen Songbird. It’s an intelligent fantasy with a well done political intrigue, well crafted characters, and no easy answers.
I did enjoy Cecile as a main character, although I did find it odd how she went from barely tolerating Tristan to being okay with him to being “Oh, I guess I love him. Well!” That part of the development was done a little too subtly and, honestly, a little too early in the game. I didn’t really see why she loved him yet at that point.
If there was anything else I’d say was an issue, it’s that the book was maybe a smidge too long and seemed a little aimless at times. Near the end I was beginning to grow a little frustrated. While I see now why things unfolded as they did (because this first book is mainly set up for the next in the series) it maybe could have used some tightening up or even shortened by a few dozen pages.
But they’re just minor qualms, really. I did enjoy Stolen Songbird and I’ll be looking forward to the sequel.