Genre: Fantasy Age Range: YA Star Rating: 4 stars Series: yes - prequel
Below Forsaken Mountain, a plot is being hatched to overthrow the tyrant king of Trollus, and Marc is the right-hand man of its leader. His involvement is information more than one troll would kill to possess, which is why he must keep it a secret from everyone, even the girl he loves.
After accidentally ruining her sister’s chance to become queen, Pénélope is given one last opportunity by her father, the Duke d’Angoulême, to make herself useful: she must find proof that the boy she’s in love with is conspiring against the crown. If she fails, her life will be forfeit.
Marc and Pénélope must navigate the complex politics of Trollus, where powers on all sides are intent on using them as pawns, forcing them to risk everything for a chance at a life together.
Except being together may turn out to be the greatest risk of all.
Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.
While there was a heavy romance focus to this book (unavoidable with star-crossed lovers at the centre), there was a lot of political intrigue too. Everyone is using Marc and Penelope for their own ends, and it was fun to try and guess the schemes and how they were shifting in response to other actions. I really liked the reveal/it being spelt out at the end how one of the characters had been manipulating everything as it shows just how formidable an opponent he’d been.
I had been advised to read this after reading STOLEN SONGBIRD, so that it didn’t spoil things. It doesn’t actually spoil very much: Marc’s backstory (which is a tiny bit of that book) and Tristian’s true loyalties (which come out very early on). However, reading this after STOLEN SONGBIRD, spoils the ending of this book. The flipside, is that knowing the ending makes it an obvious tragedy, so I suppose it depends on how much you want to know how bad it will get (I think the feels are more if you read this first, as there’s a chance to feel hope.)
I might recommend reading it first, if you prefer more intrigue-y stories or want a more solid grounding into the world of Trollus before diving into the series. If a big sweeping romance is your thing, then probably the main series first, as you have three books to invest in Cecile and Tristian, rather than one (very short) one about a pair of star-crossed lovers.
THE BROKEN ONES also confirms that this series is set in an alternate version of our world. I hadn’t been sure if it was supposed to be set in a fictional corner of France, or a secondary world inspired by France (there has been no reference of any location like Paris or France at all). However, Tristian quotes Shakespeare, and is old off for quoting human poetry, which pretty much confirms it in my mind. PLUS, it was a line from Henry IV Part One (my favourite Shakespeare play), which only made me squeal more.
Read my reviews of other books by Danielle L. Jensen:
The Malediction Trilogy (this series):
- STOLEN SONGBIRD (#1)
- HIDDEN HUNTRESS (#2)
- WARRIOR WITCH (#3)
- TARNISHED EMPIRE (#0)
- DARK SHORES (#1)
- DARK SKIES (#2)
- GILDED SERPENT (#3)
The Bridge Kingdom:
- THE BRIDGE KINGDOM (#1)
- THE TRAITOR QUEEN (#2)
- THE INADEQUATE HEIR (#3)