Hidden Huntress by Danielle L. Jensen
Book Two of the Malediction Trilogy
Publisher: Angry Robot
Publication Date: June 2, 2015
Rating: 2 stars
Source: eARC from NetGalley
Summary (from Goodreads):
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…
What I Liked:
Well, that was disappointing. I didn't completely dislike this book, but I was very, very disappointed, to be honest. A lot of factors were at play - I think my expectations were very high after reading Stolen Songbird, but this book in general was just all over the place. And kind of bad. I can't even say that this book suffer from sequel slump because it's not like this book is boring or slow or could have been skipped altogether. No no - there were serious problems with this book (for me) that went beyond your typical "sequel slump" symptoms.
In any case, this book is my Pili-Pushed recommendation for the month of April. To see all of the Pili-Pushed recommendations, like on the "Pili-Pushed" tag! It's unfortunate that I didn't like this book more, because I loved Stolen Songbird - it's my favorite Pili-Pushed recommendation to date!
It's been two months since Cécile left Trollus, since she and Tristan have been separated. Tristan is a prisoner for conspiring against the king, and Cécile is trying to have somewhat of a normal life in Triannon as a singer. But she is not content with singing anymore - she wants to find Anushka and put an end to the curse. Separated but bound together, Tristan and Cécile must work from each of their worlds to find a way out, a way through, and a way back to each other, to find Anushka. But nothing is simple or easy, and Cécile and Tristan are in much more danger than they realize.
I will say that I was never really bored while reading this book. It's loooooong, and there are times when I really felt the length, but for the most part, I thought the story had decent pacing and interesting events. The twists and turns were predictable (see below). But I couldn't not keep reading, as I wanted to know if my intuitions were correct (they were all correct, because the plot twists were obvious).
That was really the only thing that I really *liked* about this book - it kept me reading, I kept going. Oh and no love triangle. That's always a good thing. We get Cécile AND Tristan's first-person points-of-view, which is pretty cool, and different from book one. But most of my feelings towards this book aren't all that positive. Read on!
What I Did Not Like:
Seriously, what in the world happened to this book?! Stolen Songbird blew me away! This book lacked the spark and flare that its predecessor had. I'm honestly confused by the huge difference in quality of story, between Stolen Songbird and this book. Things I didn't like: Cécile's seriously passive attitude, the constant guilt-trip-woe-is-me-martyr episodes, the predictability, certain plot arcs in general, the lack of romance. The last one isn't a sticking point, but it didn't exactly help that the romance is pretty much nonexistent in this book.
I'll start with Cécile. I really did NOT like her in this book. I liked her a lot in Stolen Songbird! But in this book, she complains a lot. She lets people boss her around, tell her what to do, tell her what's best for her. The very first few scenes features her mother harassing her into performing this or that. Or there was Chris, physically trying to prevent her from doing something, speaking over her, making decisions for her. This goes on throughout the book. Cécile's mother never stops controlling Cécile, and Cécile never stops her. Cécile goes along with it, though we know internally she gets irritated sometimes. Other times, she's all, I-love-my-mother-la-la-la-everything-is-fine.
I have so many problems with this attitude! Cécile lets everyone tell her what to do, how to act, how to run her life. Does Cécile even WANT to be a singer in Triannon? It sure does NOT feel like that from the beginning of this book, yet Cécile doesn't try to do anything different. She doesn't stand up for herself at all. Sometimes, she gets mad internally (but does nothing), but most of the time, she doesn't even know that someone is owning her like that. SO WRONG.
And tell me why she is blindly following her mother? A woman who hasn't been in her life for years? A woman who only cares about projecting her career goals on her daughter? It's obvious that Genevieve doesn't are about Cécile. Yet Cécile is constantly trying to please her, obey her, cater to her every whim. If this were MY estranged mother... please. That lady would have been shown the door. I don't tolerate people dictating my life.
Not to mention the whole martyr thing got old real quick. Both Tristan and Cécile went through some serious guilt trips throughout the book. Tristan, I was more forgiving towards him, because his guilt made sense. With Cécile, I felt like her guilt was more misplaced, and it was more of her feeling sorry for herself. She did A LOT of moping and whining and complaining and feeling sorry for herself in this book. Lots of pity parties.
This book was totally predictable. There were so many twists that you could spot from a mile away. There was a big one with Anushka that I knew from the beginning. FROM THE BEGINNING. Really obvious. This is the case with most of the "twists".
There were a lot of plot arcs that I really just didn't agree with. To begin with, separating the two protagonists for 75% of the book? I'm not okay with that. But let's pretend that one is okay. The author does certain things to Tristan, and to Cécile, and involving Cécile's brother Fred, and a lot of these events got eye rolls from me, or pissed me off. Like, OF COURSE Fred is going to do this, because he feels this guilt about this and that. It's so frustrating! There are so many plot cliches! I can't say things specifically without giving things away, but you'll have to take my word for it.
Last thing I'm going to talk about (there's more, but I'm tired) - the romance. It's basically not there. There's no romance, no chemistry, and little interactions. I don't want to spoil anything, but I was not happy with the romance.
I was also not happy with the ending, but that had nothing to do with the romance. It's a bit of a cliffhanger, but that's not what is bothering. What's bothering me is Cécile's idiot brain that tells her to do stupid and to not do smart things. Ugh. No spoilers, but... ugh.
Would I Recommend It:
Eh. If you liked Stolen Songbird (like me), then you should give this book a chance. But if you haven't read Stolen Songbird, then don't bother. Not yet, at least. Stolen Songbird was AMAZING. This book? Not so much.
2 stars. This book could have been so much better. I had expectations, but this book didn't even come close to meeting any of my expectations... this book was such a disappointment for me. I've seen others enjoy it though, so perhaps I'm just too picky!
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