Today we’re pleased to welcome Danielle Jensen. Her most recent novel, Warrior Witch was released May 3rd and completed the Malediction trilogy. She stopped by to chat about the relationship between the series protagonist, Cécile, and her mother. Family relationships can always be quite intriguing and this one is no exception!
This post will have Stolen Songbird and Hidden Huntress spoilers, so don’t proceed if you haven’t read the novels!
Quite early in Hidden Huntress, I heavily hint that Cécile’s mother, Genevieve, is actually Anushka. The reason for this early reveal was that I believed the central mystery was not Anushka’s identity, but rather the answer to the riddle of the prophecy that brought Tristan and Cécile together. I was also interested in creating a circumstance where the reader knew or suspected the villain’s identity before the protagonist did. It has always fascinated me how the family members of serial killers are always so shocked to discover that their spouse/parent/sibling has been carrying on such horrible activities. How the idea that said spouse/parent/sibling might be a murderer never once having crossed their minds, despite it being obvious to an outsider presented with the facts. How having an emotional connection to the villain makes people blind to their true nature. I wanted to create a situation where Cécile’s relationship with her mother actually made her the worst person to guess Anushka’s true identity.
One of the reasons I wrote the prequel story, The Songbird’s Overture, was that I wanted to explore the dynamic between Cécile and Genevieve before I began drafting Hidden Huntress. I created a circumstance where Genevieve’s visits to the Hollow were rare events that Cécile treasured, and Genevieve herself was a woman that a young farm girl with aspirations to the stage might idolize. Genevieve was beautiful, talented, educated, and wealthy; but more than that, she was able to do as she pleased. Which was something that appealed to a free spirit like Cécile. She constructed an elaborate fantasy detailing who her mother was, what she was like, and how she lived, the occasional visits serving to compound this vision rather than deconstruct it. By the time Cécile joins Genevieve in Trianon, she’s had a lifetime to create an idealized fantasy of her mother, which does not include her being a powerful witch who is killing off her descendants in order to remain immortal.
The situation is compounded by Cécile’s childhood fear that it was her, or her family’s, inadequacies that caused Genevieve to abandon them. She has a desire to prove herself to her mother, and to win her love, and this need is so entrenched in her psyche that she struggles to shake it despite witnessing evidence that Genevieve is not worthy of the effort. Her mother has been her idol for so long that she clings to the rare moments when Genevieve lives up to her fantasy vision, acknowledging, but then dismissing, the moments when she doesn’t. This isn’t a reflection of Cécile’s intelligence – she isn’t stupid – but is rather a reflection of the damage that has been done by Genevieve’s manipulative form of parenting.
The need to prove herself to her mother reaches its heights when Cécile comes to believe that Genevieve is Anushka’s target, because what better way could there be to win an idol’s love than to save her life. It’s the perfect climax to the childhood fantasy that is lurking in her subconscious, and it blinds her to much of what is obvious to the reader, including that Genevieve is perhaps not worth saving. It drives her actions, many of which are extremely dangerous, right up to the moment where she receives definitive proof that Genevieve is Anushka. The fantasy that Cécile spent a lifetime building shatters, and her struggle to come to terms with reality is how Anushka maintains the upper hand. And it is the moment when Cécile came to terms with the deeply flawed relationship she has with her mother and sees reality that she is able to put an end to Anushka.Gues
Danielle was born and raised in Calgary, Canada. At the insistence of the left side of her brain, she graduated in 2003 from the University of Calgary with a bachelor’s degree in finance.
But the right side of her brain has ever been mutinous; and in 2010, it sent her back to school to complete an entirely impractical English literature degree at Mount Royal University and to pursue publication. Much to her satisfaction, the right side shows no sign of relinquishing its domination.
Published by Angry Robot on May 3rd 2016
Our reviews of this author: Warrior Witch
Sometimes, one must become the unimaginable…
Cécile and Tristan have accomplished the impossible, but their greatest challenge remains: defeating the evil that they have unleashed upon the world.
As they scramble for a way to protect the people of the Isle and liberate the trolls from their tyrant king, Cécile and Tristan must battle those who’d see them dead. To win, they will risk everything… and everyone. But it might not be enough. Both Cécile and Tristan have debts, and they will be forced to pay them at a cost far greater than they had ever imagined.
Everything is at stake, in the heart-stopping conclusion to the acclaimed Malediction Trilogy.