Danielle L. Jensen
This is the sequel to Stolen Songbird
Release Date: June 2, 2015
Publisher: Angry Robot
Synopsis on Goodreads:
Sometimes, one must accomplish the impossible.
Beneath the mountain, the king’s reign of tyranny is absolute; the one troll with the capacity to challenge him is imprisoned for treason. Cécile has escaped the darkness of Trollus, but she learns all too quickly that she is not beyond the reach of the king’s power. Or his manipulation.
Recovered from her injuries, she now lives with her mother in Trianon and graces the opera stage every night. But by day she searches for the witch who has eluded the trolls for five hundred years. Whether she succeeds or fails, the costs to those she cares about will be high.
To find Anushka, she must delve into magic that is both dark and deadly. But the witch is a clever creature. And Cécile might not just be the hunter. She might also be the hunted…
Hidden Huntress is book two in the Malediction Trilogy, and I have to say I enjoyed it a lot more than book one. Although I loved Stolen Songbird for introducing these amazing characters and the world of Trollus, I could see a difference between the two from the start! The character development is hugely expanded on, and in my opinion the strongest aspect when compared to plot and world-building. With all kinds of magic and witchery, this book embodies the title of “Hidden Huntress”.
I first noticed the author is more comfortable with her fantasy world, and in turn the reader is drawn deeper into the characters. I loved that the POV’s were split between Tristan and Cecile! Usually I can’t stand this sort of thing, but it works really well for the book. The reader learns a lot more about what’s happening in Trollus as well as the human world – in particular Trianon. And a great deal of things are happening. Tristan is on the outs with his father & the half-bloods while his friends are being punished for his actions in Stolen Songbird. There’s no one Tristan can trust in accomplishing his goals. It was great being inside his head as Tristan combats these different issues plus we get a better understanding of Tristan as a character – more so than we did in Stolen Songbird.
Minor and briefly-mentioned characters of Stolen Songbird are expanded on! My favourite examples were Chris and Cecile’s mother, Genevieve. Chris proves himself to be a valuable friend and ally. Even when his life may be in danger, he continues getting involved in Cecile’s search for Anushka. With Genevieve, there’s a lot of tension between mother and daughter. This showed an interesting dynamic because after many years apart, the two are forced to come to terms with each other. Furthermore, this benefited the plot [by moving it along], as it turns out Anushka has a deeper connection to Cecile, and her mother, than she realized.
World-building. We get to learn about some of the politics of Trianon and how the rest of the Isle is structured leadership-wise. Cecile discovers the Regency – the reigning government of the Isle – has close ties with the trolls and Anushka. I absolutely loved all the plot twists Jensen had waiting for the reader, most were a complete surprise! However, I would have liked more world-building. It felt to me she only scratched the surface, and I had more questions for every answer provided.
Witchery, grimoires, magic – all these things were manifested in Cecile and came with serious character growth. The magical side that she only discovered in Stolen Songbird, is put to good use in Hidden Huntress – for better or worse. Cecile dives straight into the dark arts and animal sacrifice, her love for Tristan and their friends a huge motivator. It was a fascinating turn of events, as Tristan seemed to go a more moral route. Cecile’s self-less nature drives her to do whatever it takes to find Anushka and break the curse.
I did have some issues with the writing. There were times when I liked it, and times when I wasn’t sure if I liked it or not. I encountered this with Stolen Songbird, but definitely feel it has since improved. This could just be a style thing, but I’ve never been so conflicted about the writing in any book I’ve read. In addition, I found the first 30% of the book to be very long. It was almost a chore to get through. I find the author uses a lot of adjectives, so her writing is visually beautiful, but sometimes it’s too much and hard to understand what is going on. If a few less words were used I don’t think I’d have found it so long.
Overall, Hidden Huntress undeniably surpasses as a sequel to Stolen Songbird. Once again, SS was great for introducing this fantastical world of trolls & magic, but HH gives that bigger visual of the Isle, the world Cecile comes from and where she might have gone if the trolls hadn’t intervened. I was blown away by the ending and cannot wait for book 3 – which is even harder since I read book 2 before it was even released! Danielle L. Jensen has shaped an underground city of magical creatures into one of my most valued book worlds – and that makes me extremely excited for future works.
I received a free e-arc from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.