This is a prequel novel to Danielle Jensen‘s MALEDICTION TRILOGY, which is comprised of Stolen Songbird, Hidden Huntress and Warrior Witch. A lot of people like to read books series in chronological order, but I would highly recommend not doing that here, as The Broken Ones (2017) well and truly assumes you’ve already read the original trilogy.
Beneath the Forsaken Mountain is the city of Trollus, ruled over by a tyrannical king and his son Tristan. But unbeknownst to only but a few, Tristan and his closest circle of friends are plotting a coup to overthrow his cruel father and establish a kinder, fairer system.
But they’re beset by danger and intrigue on all sides. Marc is Tristan’s best friend and right-hand man, though for most of his life he’s been in love with Pénélope, the daughter of the scheming Duke d’Angoulême. And when Pénélope accidentally ruins the chances of her sister becoming the next queen of Trollus, she’s tasked with finding evidence that Marc is involved in the movement against the crown.
So the two lovers struggle to negotiate the complex politics that surround them, knowing that they’re balancing their own desire for happiness against the greater good of Trollus.
The Broken Ones is a good read that provides some context to the original story, though — as I said — it’s not something that should be read without first having the trilogy under your belt. Concepts such as “bonding” and “half-bloods” go completely unexplained, and even as someone who had read the trilogy a while back I had trouble remembering the specifics.
A little exposition wouldn’t have gone amiss, especially when it comes to the rules of magic that govern Trollus, or characters such as the queen. She’s actually a Siamese twin, and it took me a couple of pages to remember that (which made her scenes extremely confusing at first).
The book also includes a short story called “The Songbird’s Overture” which introduces Cecile (the protagonist of the trilogy) at age fourteen, her life on the farm with her family, and the meeting with her mother that sets up her life in Stolen Songbird.
Altogether, it’s an interesting companion to Jensen’s series. Pénélope’s shadow looms large in the trilogy, so it was nice to get some insight into who she actually was, and The Broken Ones provides more background detail on life in Trollus before Cecile’s story begins.