Series Review: The Malediction Trilogy by Danielle L. Jensen

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Series Review: The Malediction Trilogy by Danielle L. JensenThe Broken Ones by Danielle L. Jensen
Series: The Malediction Trilogy #0.6
Published by Angry Robot on June 6, 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 320
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
AmazonThe Book DepositoryAudible
Goodreads
three-half-stars

A prequel to the USA Today bestseller and Goodreads Choice finalist Stolen Songbird (The Malediction Trilogy).

Below Forsaken Mountain, a plot is being hatched to overthrow the tyrant king of Trollus, and Marc is the right-hand man of its leader. His involvement is information more than one troll would kill to possess, which is why he must keep it a secret from everyone, even the girl he loves.

After accidentally ruining her sister’s chance to become queen, Pénélope is given one last opportunity by her father, the Duke d’Angoulême, to make herself useful: she must find proof that the boy she’s in love with is conspiring against the crown. If she fails, her life will be forfeit.

Marc and Pénélope must navigate the complex politics of Trollus, where powers on all sides are intent on using them as pawns, forcing them to risk everything for a chance at a life together.

Except being together may turn out to be the greatest risk of all.

I’d have read this series a bit earlier than now, except that just as I was going to get started, this prequel novel was announced, so I decided to wait. If you’ve not already started the series, I’d recommend reading this in series order rather than publication order, because I don’t think I would have wanted to go back and read this after reading even just book one.

The Broken Ones is sort of like Trolleo and Juliet. Well, they’re both trolls. Only these trolls are more like faeries because they’re all hot and magical and stuff. Except Marc isn’t hot because the trolls are cursed, so his face is deformed. The curse on the trolls is the coolest part of the book, and I love that Pénélope thinks Marc is hot af just as he is. There’s a star-crossed thing going on with them because initially she was too high status for him, and then, when her blood disorder was revealed, he was too high status for her. They give no shits though. View Spoiler »

Though objectively, there’s a lot about The Broken Ones I’d expect not to like, it really worked for me. It’s not a massive ship, but I really like March and Pénélope, as well as the political maneuverings.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

 

Series Review: The Malediction Trilogy by Danielle L. JensenStolen Songbird by Danielle L. Jensen
Series: The Malediction Trilogy #1
Published by Strange Chemistry on April 1, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 469
Format: Paperback
Source: Library
AmazonThe Book DepositoryAudible
Goodreads
three-half-stars

For five centuries, a witch’s curse has bound the trolls to their city beneath the mountain. When Cécile de Troyes is kidnapped and taken beneath the mountain, she realises that the trolls are relying on her to break the curse.

Cécile has only one thing on her mind: escape. But the trolls are clever, fast, and inhumanly strong. She will have to bide her time…

But the more time she spends with the trolls, the more she understands their plight. There is a rebellion brewing. And she just might be the one the trolls were looking for...

Where The Broken Ones felt like Trolleo and Juliet, Stolen Songbird is Beauty and the (Incredibly Hot) Troll. Plot-wise, there’s not much to surprise about Stolen Songbird but it’s very much compulsively readable.

Cécile’s about to go off to the city to be a singer and live with her neglectful mother when she’s kidnapped and sold to the trolls in their forgotten kingdom under the mountain. Even though the trolls hate humans (a clear racism commentary), they bond (marriage plus magic) Cécile to their prince, Tristan, because his aunt had a prophecy that she would be able to end their curse (which poisons them and traps them under the earth).

Cécile and Tristan, while not a mega ship, totally pushes some great shippy buttons for me. They’re hate-to-love with a dash of reverse fake relationship (as they have to pretend to hate each other once they don’t so that Tristan’s role in the revolution doesn’t get revealed). They have pretty good banter, and I do like them. One thing that was off here, though, was that I couldn’t help feeling terrible for Anaïs, having read the prequel first.

Another thing working both for and against this book is the concept of the bond. They make an interesting comparison to Sarah J. Maas’ mating bonds. Here, couples drink of an elixir, which marks them with a tattoo and unites their emotions and lives inextricably. Once bonded, they can never bond with someone else, and they typically cannot survive the death of a bonded partner. There’s a definite question with Tristan and Cécile as to whether they actually fell in love with each other or if it’s all the work of the bond. I appreciate that Jensen does consider all the unhealthy aspects (like how bonded couples don’t seem able to choose anyone or anything over their partner), but this sort of romance will never ever be my fave.

The plot runs heavily to the predictable. Cécile’s the savior, and, though the villain has yet to be revealed, I one hundred percent know who it is: View Spoiler ». It’s not a case where I think the heroine’s an idiot for not figuring it out necessarily, but, for readers familiar with fantasy or The 10th Kingdom, it’s going to be really fucking obvious. Everything unfolded just how I expected View Spoiler ».

There’s just something so fun and fast-paced and approachable about the writing. I think it’s that it’s pretty dialog-heavy and there’s a consistent sort of light banter. I’m having a lot of fun with these so far, but it’s one of those times where I’m not sure if I should like them as much as I do.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:


Series Review: The Malediction Trilogy by Danielle L. JensenHidden Huntress by Danielle L. Jensen
Series: The Malediction Trilogy #2
Published by Angry Robot on June 2, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 464
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
AmazonThe Book DepositoryAudible
Goodreads
one-half-stars

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…

I hate having to write negative reviews for books that didn’t piss me off (those are emotionally satisfying lbr); I find no pleasure in it. However, Hidden Huntress is laughably bad to the degree that I’m seriously questioning my enjoyment of the other two and to the degree that I’m quitting this series.

About halfway through Hidden Huntress, I wanted to DNF, but I decided to push through so I could at least review this one, and also so that I would never second guess my quitting of the series. The first half of the book is mostly just boring: Tristan and Cécile are separated, and they’re the only characters developed enough that you give even the teensiest shit about them. Blah blah searching blah blah sad blah blah twue wuv.

One of the things I liked about the prequel and Stolen Songbird was that I felt like Jensen was playing with the complexities of the bond, the way that it totally fucked up a person’s priorities. In Hidden Huntress all of that basically drops out. At some point, Tristan and Cécile are just accepted as being in love and perfect for each other, and I am so not there. If the reader’s meant to ship a relationship, the reader needs to feel like they’re in love before the characters are avowing their intense and ever-lasting feelings. I’m sitting in “the bond magic totally did this to you guys” land where this is all super unhealthy, but obviously that’s not ever going to come up again. All the people who doubt their relationship will either come around or die, and that’s the world this is now.

Now, I know I said that Tristan and Cécile were developed and you cared, but actually that sort of disappears too. By the end, I have no fucking clue who Cécile is anymore, other than a fucking idiot (more on that in a moment); she definitely makes choices that seem completely unbelievable based on the established function of the bond between her and Tristan. Meanwhile, Tristan, who was leading the rebels and so motivated and progressive, mostly doesn’t seem to give a shit about anything but Cécile anymore. He’s sapped of energy, strength, and determination, and it would be tragic if he were intentionally going through a thing, but I think it’s more that the plot is all about Cécile in this book, so there wasn’t much for him to do.

Warning: there will be untagged spoilers from this point on, though some of the spoilers you will have seen coming for eight hundred pages.

All of this stuff, though, isn’t the big, fundamental problem with this book. The big problem is the plot, which is atrociously stupid and predictable. That may sound mean, but I’ve known how all of this would go down since pretty early in book one (and I predicted it in a Stolen Songbird spoiler written before I read this book). If you’ve read much fantasy ever, it will be completely obvious to you that the evil witch Anushka who they’re searching for is Cécile’s mom.

It is possible to pull off a plot where the reader figures things out long before the MC does and not have the MC come off like a major idiot, but it’s not easy to do that. In this case, it doesn’t work at all. Mostly because it’s massively apparent that the revelation of Anushka being (in the body of) her mother is meant to be a shocking twist, despite the fact that I’d been banging my head against the wall for four hundred pages because it was so clear. Even worse, as the book unravels, it becomes increasingly clear. Even when they figure out that Anushka can only gain long life by killing her descendants, Cécile and company go “so it’s still totally this lady I am in no way related to and OH NO she’s going to kill my mom in three days!” and I die. That makes no logical sense, and these characters are supposed to be smart.

Then there are the adorable little plot holes. Cécile performs a spell right at the start of the final showdown while captured by her mom (not shady at all) ostensibly to make sure she doesn’t miss her performance. The spell is to show her mother, but she gets nothing (MASSIVE SUBTLE HINT), so she does the same spell to show her Anushka. Yo, bitch, you could have done this at the start of the book and not FOUR HUNDRED PAGES IN. Anyway, gaping plot hole aside, the spell shows her mother, and she’s like “omg mom is with Anushka much danger!” and figures out nothing until Momnushka and her lackey have a conversation clearly detailing everything. HOW CONVENIENT THAT CECILE DIDN’T HAVE TO USE A SINGLE BRAIN CELL.

It gets worse, though. I KNOW. Now that Cécile knows her mom’s the evil witch, she uses her bond to order Tristan not to trust anyone because she doesn’t want him to kill her mom but wants to warn him. If it hadn’t been an ebook, I would have thrown the book at this point. No surprise, this makes the climax more dramatic, because when bestie Sabine figures out it’s Cécile’s mom (oh look, someone with a brain), Tristan protects the mom because he’s not sure who he’s not supposed to trust. And Sabine dies (this is what happens when you dare to be smarter than the MC, I guess). After more waffling about killing her mom, because Cécile hasn’t figured out that Anushka took over her mom’s body ages ago and it’s NOT her mom, she finally kills Anushka, and the trolls invade. It’s finally blessedly over and I give no shits.

For fun, I also spoiled myself on book three, and it’s apparently just as bad. View Spoiler » I’m done with The Malediction Trilogy, and I can’t recommend starting it at this point, since the quality goes so far downhill. Also, I do hate that it’s about “trolls” who are actually just faeries; it’s such an obvious attempt to make the series sound unique when it’s not. And if plotting isn’t a strong point, books probably shouldn’t be almost five hundred pages.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

 

Save

Save

Save

One response to “Series Review: The Malediction Trilogy by Danielle L. Jensen”

  1. I CLICKED THE BOOK THREE SPOILER AND I CANNOT FUCKING BELIEVE IT, I WOULD BE LIVID. OMFG. You are smarter than me, I didn’t think of the witch thing in book one but like I mentioned, I’ve tried a few times to read Hidden Huntress and couldn’t get past the first few chapters. It makes me super sad that the series went so downhill because I really really enjoyed Stolen Songbird, and it did feel unique. Sigh. What a turn of events.
    Morgan @ The Bookish Beagle recently posted…Fangirl Friday with Morgan from The Bookish BeagleMy Profile

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge