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…
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thanks Angry Robot and Netgalley!
When I got this book I was basically:
Okay, back on topic. The book starts out right in the middle of where we were left at the end of Stolen Songbird. (By the way, really like that alliteration going on in the titles.) It switches from first person POVs between Cécile and Tristan, so we could look at what each was doing in both Trianon and Trollus.
Cécile is back in Trianon and singing in operas under her mother’s tutelage while also trying to look for the witch Anushka. While her mother is prepping Cécile to take up the stage and a rich protector, Cécile is focusing on looking for Anushka to save Tristan and her troll friends. However, Anushka is pretty hard to find and the majority of Cécile’s side of the book is devoted to looking for this witch. Cécile’s relationship with her mother was really interesting to me. She can’t hate the woman because it’s her mom, but she doesn’t exactly like what her mom is doing. How can you absolutely hate someone who just wants “the best” for you? Even if she broke apart your family for her selfishness to stay an actress and performer…
Tristan, on the other hand, is trying to deal with his own problems in Trollus. It seems like the king has thought of everything to foil Tristan’s plans. It also doesn’t help that the half-bloods in the kingdom aren’t too keen on him since the debacle in the first book. However, Tristan manages to slowly gain their trust and maneuver his way through the political maze going on in Trollus.
“But I had a new weapon, one that I’d never used much before: the truth.”
This time, Tristan’s relationship with his father is rather intriguing to me. Seriously, the man beats his son and disinherits him from the throne but… the king wouldn’t kill Tristan. And, much as Tristan is loathe to admit, he cares about what happens to his father. So we’re looking at another family that has to go through hard situations to show their… tough love? Is the king trying to shape Tristan into the future king he wants him to be? Is Cécile’s mother just trying to give to Cécile a life with no suffering? Familial relationships are ambiguous, because you have to ask yourself if they’re truly evil or they’re doing it for their love (or at least affinity) to their children.
“Thibault did the things he did because he believed Tristan needed to be a certain kind of man to rule the trolls. And while I’d never condone or truly understand his abuse of his son, I was certain that the King would do everything in his power to keep Tristan alive.”
Sighh, this book is definitely great for the romantics here (like me). Cécile and Tristan are really great characters individually, but together they’re amazing. Both of them are trying to free the oppressed and create new opportunities for the half-bloods in Trollus, but at what cause? Suddenly, this becomes way more than freeing a race from the unjust hands of a vengeful witch. We’re dealing with not only trolls v. humans and half-bloods v. full-bloods, but also an underlying animosity that has had more than centuries to grow.
“For the longest time, I thought this fight was between half-bloods and full-bloods,” I finaly said. “But I was wrong. It’s a fight against a flawed iddeology. A fight for a different way of life.”
Okay but back to the romance: people who are looking for more Tristan time or Tristan and Cécile time will not be disappointed. Their love for each other really shines throughout the book, even in the midst of the chaos wrecking their lives. And yes, things do get steamier than in the first book.
“‘There are risks and consequences, and logic, reason, and… and good sense say that I should stop now.’ He bit at his lower lip, and I held my breath. ‘But I don’t want to. We’ve almost lost each other too many times, and I don’t want to regret not giving you everything when I had the chance.'”
The supporting cast continues to be astonishing, as ever. Sabine and Chris’s friendship are Cécile’s pillars throughout her time at Trianon. They and her brother Fred are always there to help her, and only look out for her safety. Tristan’s brother Roland is as psychotic as ever, and Anais is back but… different. Ack there are so many characters in the book that have so much depth, you have to read it to find out.
What I got out most from this book was the different actions that love can bring forth from a person. The love of a couple who need each other. The love of a brother to go against orders to help his sister. The love of a father who is only capable of showing it through extreme measures to his son. The love of a witch that turns into a lie when she binds a centuries old curse onto her supposed beloved. It’s truly astonishing to see how far people are willing to go to do things fueled by “love.”
This was such a great addition to the Malediction Trilogy, and the ending really set the tone for an amazing last book. I can’t wait!
Quotes are from an ARC copy and are subject to change upon publication.
And on the topic of ARCs – I know they’re supposed to have typos and all, but this one upset me the most:
“They took me to the castle in a, and if the guards thought it strange that a young woman opera singer be treated so, they were too well trained to ask questions.”
In a – what?! It’s definitely something opulent if an opera singer isn’t supposed to be in it, but what is it?? This reminds me of those SAT questions where you have to pick the word to fill in the blank, except without answer choices. Dang.