Hidden Huntress by Danielle L Jensen (No.2 of the Malediction Trilogy)

Hidden Huntress is the second instalment in the Malediction Trilogy by Danielle Jensen, following on from Stolen Songbird.  (Beware of spoilers below).

At the start of the story Cecile is now living with her mother in Trianon, performing opera each night on the stage.  She has recovered from her injuries and is intent on her search to find the witch that cursed the trolls (and her husband Tristan) to live beneath a mountain for the rest of eternity.  However, although she may have escaped Trollus the King beneath the mountain has a long reach and he’s still able to contact Cecile.  Unfortunately, having agreed to see the King, in the hopes of seeing Tristan, Cecile makes a promise to find Anushka and do all within her power to help free the trolls.  Little does she realise that the King will now be able to drive her almost to the brink of insanity in order to fulfil her promise.

Hidden Huntress has a very different feel from the first.  The story focuses much more on Cecile and although we spend some time in the fascinating world of the trolls most of the story takes place in Trianon where Cecile struggles to uncover anything in relation to the long lived witch who cursed the trolls.  Her search is going to turn her towards the dark arts of magic and will eventually place her in great danger as it becomes clear that time is running out.

I can’t deny that I have slightly mixed feelings for this book and in fact have left my review for a few days whilst the dust settles. To a certain extent I think this is a fairly solid second instalment, it’s well written and has a dramatic finale.  However, on the other hand, I felt like this could have been somewhat shorter.  I definitely experienced moments where I felt the story dragged and on top of that I found myself increasingly irritated by the fact that the outcome was so obvious.  I felt like I was at a pantomime shouting to the character on stage ‘he’s behind you’.  And yet the characters in the story remained totally oblivious.  Okay, I suppose once they’d gone down a certain track their minds were made up but for me personally I never had any doubt about which direction the story was going in.  Should that bother me – maybe not.  Sometimes the story isn’t all about the mystery or the twist at the end but in this particular case I felt like the ending was supposed to be something of a shock – and so that felt like a little bit of a let down.

In this story we have Cecile and Tristan narrating.  I enjoyed that aspect very much and in particular the fact that although they share a special bond they can still misunderstand each other to such a large extent that they sometimes seem to be at cross purposes.  I like the character Tristan.  He tries much harder in this book to be conciliatory and offer olive branches to those who feel he betrayed their cause in book No.1.  He is used quite appallingly by his father and yet in spite of this I feel like there’s something about the King that we haven’t quite yet discovered.  That aside Tristan manages a fair amount of sneaking about and trickery.

In terms of Cecile.  I don’t dislike her as a character but do find her a little bit annoying in some respects.  It just feels that in spite of her efforts she never really moves the story forward a great deal.  Well until the last third of the book – and even then she makes some questionable decisions.  Strangely and conversely I think Cecile’s mother makes an excellent character as the strict mother figure.

On the whole I enjoyed No.2.  I did think it suffered a little with the pacing and also with the predictability but I have to admit it’s an excellent set up for what promises to be a revealing conclusion.

I received a copy of this courtesy of the publishers through Netgalley for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.