Author: Danielle L. Jensen
Publisher: Angry Robot
Length: 464 pages
Source: eGalley via NetGalley
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…
Protagonists: After being separated Cécile and Tristan try and so whatever they can to be reunited. Cecile is in Trianon, where she works tirelessly to try and find the witch Anushka so that the curse on the trolls can be lifted and that she can find her way back to her husband. Tristan on the other hand is dealing with all of the fallout of the previous installment, the betrayal of not only his father, but of his supporters has put him in a tough and humble place that he needs to dig himself out of if he's ever going to make Trollus a safe and equal place. I was surprised to find how much I enjoyed Tristan's arc in this book. He does start out every bit the self-loathing troll I hated in the first book, though a bit more tolerable, however his growth into a much more focused and wise character was very much appreciated and made me really connect with him in a way that I never did in the first book. Cécile's development is very closely tied with her desire to free the trolls, namely does she want to risk unleashing them all, or is she letting her feelings for Tristan and her friends believe that breaking the curse is worth the consequences. While I also enjoyed seeing this development and seeing her really put thought into her decision, I have to say that in my book it paled in comparison to the development of Tristan.
Romance: Okay so there isn't all that much I can say about this without giving away spoilers. I will say a few things though. There is a bit of romance in this book, and yes it's between Tristan and Cécile, who else? I won't say on what grounds it occurs, however I will say that I've really come to love this couple. First off while they do have their issues like any normal couple would, it doesn't take them too long to resolve them, at least not in this installment. Secondly, they just balance each other out so well. Tristan is a pragmatic and thoughtful character, whereas Cécile likes to dive in regardless of the consequences and ask questions later. As the story develops you can really see their influence on each other, Tristan will strike while the iron's hot and Cécile will carefully consider what she's doing. Their romance is so well crafted and despite what other characters might thing *cough* Sabine *cough* I think they're perfect for each other.
World-Building: So in this installment we get out first real look at the Isle of Light. In the previous installment Cécile wasn't above ground long enough for us to really get a sense for what the Isle is like, but in this book, Cécile spends most of her time around humans and interacts and partakes in the politics of Trianon society. In addition to learning more about the world, we also learn more about their denizens, such as Cécile's mother who's cold, calculating, and very strict, but seems to love Cécile in her own twisted way. We also learn more about human magic and witches and just what their powers can do. What I found most interesting was the political intrigue woven throughout this tale and how wrapped up the human politics are with the troll ones, for better or worse. P.S. this book did what I thought was impossible it made me really like the character of Chris.
Predictability: So the central mystery of this book is both who Anushka is, and how she's been able to survive for so many years. The first of these mysteries, believe it or not, I actually figured out in the first installment, I don't know what drove me to predict it, but it just sort of clicked, the fun for me in this installment was picking up on all the foreshadowing and figuring out her secret to immortality, which surprisingly enough also clicked without much proof one way or the other. However regardless of if you figure it out or not, I'm sure you'll still enjoy watching everything unfold. The foreshadowing is fairly subtle and vague so it doesn't really beat you over the head with the answer or anything, in fact there were a few times when I doubted my hypotheses.
Ending: Wow, there was a lot packed into this ending. There was a lot of tension as the final climax started. In it there was a lot that was revealed to the reader, some hard truths from the past that were still relevant in the present. As the climax came to a close, I wasn't sure what out heroes would do, but then it happened and before any real sort of cool down period could emerge things picked up again and left the story with one doozy of a cliffhanger. Once again I'm happy I chose to wait to read these book because if the cliffhanger at the end of the first book didn't do me in, the one at the end of this book would have.
After finishing this book I wasn't quite sure on the rating, but as I wrote the review I knew that this book rightly deserves five huge stars. This book is everything I wanted and more, I can't wait to see how this author will conclude this, so far amazing, trilogy!