“Here lay the gateway between worlds, the divide between reality and fantasy. A dream or, depending on who waited, a nightmare.”
Book: Hidden Huntress (Malediction trilogy #2)
Author: Danielle Jensen
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…
Oh! I wanted to like this book so much more. This book was possibly my most anticipated book of 2015, and while it wasn’t bad- it wasn’t spectacularly mind-blowing like the first book, the Stolen Songbird (I love the titles and covers of both).
I think my main problem with the book was that I had built it up to be so much better than it actually was. There was character development with Cecile becoming a little braver and coming into her own and Tristan learning to trust others and eating a bit of humble pie. But I just wasn’t as invested in their story; I didn’t feel and want for them , since half the time they had no idea what they wanted themselves!
Another thing: the main characters were separated from each other for at least 80% of the book. I’m sorry, but the Cecile/Tristan magic only works when they’re together. I did like the insights we got into enigmatic and mysterious Tristan’s mind, but I think their characters would have shone a lot brighter if they were near each other. What can I say? They bring out the best in each other.
Also, there was a serious lack of banter. And I love banter.
The side characters were brilliant, but some how Anais, Marc, Chris- I wouldn’t say they faded into the background, they just weren’t instrumental to the plot.
And while we’re talking about plot, let me just say I was pretty disappointed with it. The whole book revolves around figuring out the identity of the witch (Anushka), and I had a pretty good guess from the last book (I was right, by the way). Yes, we got an impressive backstory for her ( I just love it when the villains get awesome backstories), but honestly, I think a novella or a short-story would have showcased her point of view a lot more impressively.
Another disappointment was the setting. Trollus was an enchanting and interesting place I fell in love with the second I started reading about it. I loved the magical concept of the tree, the mines seemed appropriately terrifying and the problem on essentially being trapped under a huge rock seemed very real. I loved the intrigue and the layered secrets of the palace as well as the complex relationships the characters had with each other. Unfortunately, only the last two were present in this book.
Now that Cecile’s back in the real world, her days are filled with balls, the opera and faux-witchery. When she’s not pining away for Tristan, she’s pondering her complicated relationship with her mother or feeling guilty for using her brother. This all combined to somehow seem artificial and contrived, nowhere as moving and honest as her emotions towards Tristan and the Trolls in the previous book. Also, the human world is kinda…boring.
Tristan’s story is set in Trollus, but he barely seems to notice his surroundings, and he honestly has no reason to explore the magnificent place (that he grew up in, so we assume he’s familiar with it). Instead he spends his days plotting to one-up his father, steal the throne and keep Cecile safe- all the while pondering who his greatest enemies and allies are. Honorable objectives, maybe- but it felt a bit much.
I did like this book, but it didn’t meet my expectations; this book suffers from middle-book syndrome. If you’ve read Stolen Songbird, then you have to read this too- but honestly, if you skip it, you wouldn’t miss much in terms of plot. You might miss a couple of awesome (and I mean this in the very real sense of the word) quotes.
Overall Rating: 3/5
“I’d admired him, and yes, lusted after him, but then I’d fallen. Fallen for a man who felt too much and took on too much, who believed if only he worked tirelessly and ceaselessly enough, that he could improve the lives of an entire race of people. And I’d had that depth of passion turned on me – seen it in his eyes, felt it in my heart. He loved me, and I loved him. And I’d love him as long as I lived, and if my soul endured, I’d love him for eternity”
“It seems to me, that no matter what we do, no matter what choices we make, there isn’t a happy ending waiting for us at the end of the long road.”
“But that doesn’t mean we give up. It doesn’t mean we stop fighting.”