Stolen Songbird is a fantasy YA novel about Cécile who life long pursuit is to become a singer who wanted to be like her mother who left her and her family to pursuit her dream. However, she was kidnapped and taken to a secret underground kingdom in which its inhabitants were cursed to live under a mountain and was forced into a marriage after a prophecy hinted that she and the prince would be the end of the Trollus’s curse. However, things doesn’t end up the way it should be and even the trolls wasn’t what the people thought they are.
Despite sounding very cliched, the story is enjoyable and with more depth in it than just a fantasy romance between two people. It was layered in political intrigue, magical curses, impending doom and oppression and revolutionary. The character themselves continuously evolving. Cécile went through enough character growth through her tough time in Trollus as a prisoner and a human in a caste where you’re worthy by the ranks of birth and how magical you are. She undergoes a lot of discovery from her own character strength and ability that exceed what she knew about herself and the expansion of her role in the prophecy and the mystery surrounding the troll kingdom and its people. One of the intriguing aspect of the story was her growing love to the most disagreeable prince one might ever met. One of the amazing thing about this book is that the character doesn’t treat other people of her gender negatively even when one of them obviously in love with your own husband. It is refreshing to see the kind of love that didn’t fit into the stereotypical love triangle.
Since the story was dual narrated, there was another side to the male character that most YA series rarely venture. Tristan himself wasn’t like the conventional male character whose life only revolve around the female character’s well being or as a love object. In fact, the romance itself are an expendable element in this story and the characters do function more than just to satisfy the romance element perquisite with YA genre. Tristan is a political idealist and a revolutionist who recognize the need of his people and was the instrument against the rule of his father. He didn’t idealize the aristocracy ways (re: inbreeding) and do sympathise with the plight of his people and actively trying to change them. He was emotionally guarded to Cécile out of necessity but eventually found himself softening his heart toward her.
But of course, things in this book never really go predictably well and nothing really end up with the way you imagine it to be. I just hope the continuation will keep on surprising me.
The ARC is provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.