Author: Danielle L. Jensen
Publisher: Strange Chemistry/Angry Robot
Length: 469 pages
Source: eGalley via NetGalley
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...
Protagonist: Cécile grew up the daughter of a farmer, but was trained and tutored in the art of singing, knowing that one day she'd go off to live with her mother and make a career out of her talent. On the very day she is to be sent off she is taken captive and sold to the trolls beneath the mountain. Very few know about the trolls and no one who's seen them have ever spoken of them. Now Cécile knows just how real they are. Cécile starts off scared but stubborn as she's thrown into a life she never wanted, however over the course of the book she grows and changes, realizing that not all trolls are the monsters that legends have led her to believe. Many simply want to be free and to live a life they see fit. I really liked Cécile, she doesn't start off as a bad-ass heroine kicking ass and taking names, but it easy to see as she develops that she has that potential, but even if she didn't she's still a very strong and admirable female protagonist.
Romance: So due to some unintentional vibes the romance is very hard to discern at first. There are two possible candidates, however there's never a love triangle, it's just that at first it's not clear who the love interest is. Even then there it was quite a while before I felt comfortable that the author wasn't going to turn the compelling one on one romance into a love triangle. That being said for the most part I loved the romance between Cécile and Tristan. The chase and will they/won't they aspect of the relationship was the best. It was fairly slow moving and reminded me in many ways of Beauty and the Beast, however once the romance really got started, Tristan's self-loathing troll side comes out and it's not pretty. Things do get smoothed over, for better or worse, but it just got too Twilighty there for a minute.
World-Building: So going into this all I knew was that it was a fantasy about trapped trolls stealing away a girl with the talent to sing. However it is far more complex than that. This book contains a lot of political intrigue and there's a rebellion brewing that Cécile finds herself at the center of. Over the course of this book we learn a lot about the trolls, troll culture, and about the original spell that trapped them in the mountain in the first place. There's still a lot left unexplored and many things were set up to hopefully explore in further novels. I have to say I didn't expect much in the way of world-building when it came to this book, but as this story progresses this world grows immensely and I'm very eager to see how it grows in future installments.
Predictability: There was a lot to this book that I wasn't expecting, going into it I wasn't quite sure what would happen and like I mentioned above, when it came to the romance I feel like there was some unintentional foreshadowing going on. In fact there were some more similar misdirects, and some things that I thought we would discover left undiscovered. There were of course small moments that I could see coming but they were few and far between. On the whole though I liked seeing where this story would go and I enjoyed the feeling of not knowing what to expect and feeling as though anything can happen.
Ending: So as I was getting closer to the end and things were getting more and more intense I was waiting for what I call the final climax, usually a battle or struggle of some sort, and there was one, in fact depending on how you look at it there was more than one. Usually the final climax isn't very long, but it's not exactly short either, but this story felt like it had a few smaller climaxes at the end, while still keeping the tension high between each. The last of these was very intense and is sure to breed many consequences. The cool down was handled very well. While it wasn't something I expected, where things ended up by the end didn't necessarily surprise me. The very end has a bit of a cliffhanger, and while it's not too bad of one, I'm kind of happy I waited to read this one as the wait might have killed me.
So the rating for this book was a bit of a no brainer for me. I love this book and this world the author has created. My only complaint is the self-loathing love interest, which created quite a bit of annoying drama, but even then it wasn't anywhere close to a deal breaker, especially when compared to the rest of the book!