Hidden Huntress (Malediction Trilogy #2) by Danielle L. Jensen
Genre: Young adult fantasy
Publisher: Angry Robot
Release date: June 2 2015
Source: eARC from publisher via NetGalley
The nitty-gritty: A slow start but a strong finish, uneven pacing, but still beautifully written. Oh Hidden Huntress, I wanted to love you more!
**Spoilers ahead if you haven’t read Stolen Songbird!**
Stolen Songbird was one of my top ten YA books last year, and I loved it for its unique setting and sparkling writing. I had high hopes for Hidden Huntress, but they were only partly realized, unfortunately. It kills me not to be able to rave about this book, because I so wanted to love it. One of the reasons I had some issues with the story was that our main characters Cécile and Tristan, who were separated at the end of Stolen Songbird, remain separated for more than half of Hidden Huntress. I missed their romantic banter, and even when they finally get together, the events that happened while they are separated seem to drive a wedge between them. Hidden Huntress is a darker story with many more obstacles for the characters to overcome, and the happy and magical moments from the first book just weren’t there.
However, I can see the grand scheme of where Jensen is going with her series, and so I’m itching to read the final book, mostly because I finally want some answers! I’ll try to keep spoilers to a minimum, but if you haven’t read Stolen Songbird yet, you may want to skip this review. The story picks up three months after the end of the last book. Cécile is back at home, living with her mother and performing onstage as a singer, which was her dream before she was kidnapped and taken to Trollus. Tristan, however, is not doing as well. He has been imprisoned for treason and is being tortured by none other than his father, the King of Trollus.
Cécile is determined to save Tristan, as well as all the trolls and half-bloods she’s made friends with, and so she continues to search for Anushka the witch, the only person who can break the curse of the trolls’ imprisonment under the mountain. Meanwhile, her mother is controlling her every move and preparing Cécile to take her place in society, something she has absolutely no interest in. All Cécile wants is to break the curse and reunite with Tristan. But Cécile and Tristan are up against some very powerful trolls—and humans—and it won’t be an easy task.
I think many of my issues with Hidden Huntress stem from the pacing. The story moves very slowly, almost stagnant, until about three-quarters of the way through, and then it takes off like a rocket, with an exciting finish that left me dying to read the next book. Once again, the focus of the story is the characters trying to find a way to break the curse that traps the trolls in Trollus. But where the first book took place almost entirely underground in the magical land of the trolls, this time the plot is split between the world of humans and Trollus, and neither place was very interesting to me without Cécile and Tristan and their snarky banter and sweetly developing romance.
Cécile’s big challenge, besides trying to find the witch, is surviving her mother’s overbearing ways, and although I loathed her mother, she was one of the strongest characters in the story. Genevieve is an opera star who is grooming Cécile to take over her spot someday. But her methods of tough love and hurling insults at her daughter only serve to push Cécile away. Her dream of singing on stage is now a reality, and it’s nothing like she imagined it would be. Even worse, her mother “entertains” the men of society and she expects Cécile to do the same someday. Yuck! Think of just about any evil fairy tale stepmother and you’ll have an inkling of just how far Genevieve will go to get what she wants. All I wanted was for Cécile to be back in Trollus, and as far away from her poisonous mother as possible.
Ultimately, there were too many plot threads and too many characters for the story to be cohesive. I wanted all the elements to flow together, but I felt as if the plot lost its way time after time. Jensen gave us hints in the first book that the trolls are not what they seem, and that another supernatural entity is somehow tied up in their history. She drops more hints in this book, but never really explains them. Here’s hoping book three will finally answer all my questions.
The ending was completely unexpected, and while several plot lines are resolved, something happens on the last page that will leave readers hanging. a startling development that seems to come out of nowhere. Jensen has me all kinds of confused and anxious over that ending, but in a good way. Even though Hidden Huntress didn’t quite work for me, I can’t imagine NOT finishing up this series.
Read my review of Stolen Songbird.
Big thanks to the publisher for supplying a review copy. Danielle joined me a couple of days ago, to talk about her writing habits. You can read that post here.
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