Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Reviews: Lament & Ballad by Maggie Stiefvater

Sixteen-year-old Deirdre Monaghan is a painfully shy but prodigiously gifted musician. She's about to find out she's also a cloverhand—one who can see faeries. Deirdre finds herself infatuated with a mysterious boy who enters her ordinary suburban life, seemingly out of thin air. Trouble is, the enigmatic and gorgeous Luke turns out to be a gallowglass—a soulless faerie assassin. An equally hunky—and equally dangerous—dark faerie soldier named Aodhan is also stalking Deirdre. Sworn enemies, Luke and Aodhan each have a deadly assignment from the Faerie Queen. Namely, kill Deirdre before her music captures the attention of the Fae and threatens the Queen's sovereignty. Caught in the crossfire with Deirdre is James, her wisecracking but loyal best friend. Deirdre had been wishing her life weren't so dull, but getting trapped in the middle of a centuries-old faerie war isn't exactly what she had in mind...

I absolutely adored my first venture into Maggie Stiefvater’s books in the form of ‘The Scorpio Races’ so I was pretty sure I was going to love anything I read by her, and I was right. Whilst Lament didn’t sweep me away in quite the same way as Scorpio Races, it was still a fantastically well crafted and sinister tale of magic and faeries that had me racing through the pages to find out how it ended.

I loved Dee, she was a fantastic character, and I loved her relationship with James – complicated as it was. But more on that in my review for Ballard…
The premise was fantastic; it was fresh and innovative, utterly engrossing and a little bit terrifying. I did find it a little bit slow to start with, and I did end up putting it down a couple of times because I wasn’t completely hooked, but about half way through everything starts getting a little bit twisty and I couldn’t put it down.

Not once did I know how it might end, and I love how Stiefvater keeps her reader guessing and plays her cards very close to her chest so that the ending could never end up being predictable.

I wasn’t completely sold on the romance. I think it was mostly that Luke just didn’t do it for me, and I never really trusted him. That and I was secretly rooting for James because I am a sucker for the best friend/underdog romance, and I was shipping them like a crazed thing. But alas, sometimes it’s just not meant to be. But due to that I just never really got on board with Luke, which was a shame.

Whilst I loved Lament, I never fully became as immersed in the story as I was expecting to be, which was a shame. It was still fantastic, and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a new dark faerie tale, but it didn’t quite hit all the spots for me. However Ballard on the other hand…

In this mesmerizing sequel to Lament: The Faerie Queen's Deception , music prodigy James Morgan and his best friend, Deirdre, join a private conservatory for musicians. James' musical talent attracts Nuala, a soul-snatching faerie muse who fosters and feeds on the creative energies of exceptional humans until they die. Composing beautiful music together unexpectedly leads to mutual admiration and love. Haunted by fiery visions of death, James realizes that Deirdre and Nuala are being hunted by the Fey and plunges into a soul-scorching battle with the Queen of the Fey to save their lives.

James was such a fantastic character in ‘Lament’ that I was unbelievably giddy when I found out that the second book was told from his point of view. I just wanted more of him, to find out how he thought and processed things and to see a little more of the world from his perspective, and Ballad gave me exactly that.

I love the idea of looking at the story that’s running side long to the heroine’s story, and whilst this was very much James’ story, the unsent texts from Dee and the little mentions of her story running along without James gave it that feeling that he wasn’t included in the main plot. It was like the episode of Buffy where we see Xander’s story where he gets into all amounts of hell with zombies whilst Buffy and the others are off saving the world. And I LOVE that.

There was just such a fascinating plot and so many fantastic secondary characters running through James’ story, and I loved getting more of him in all his arrogant and ocd fantasticness. I loved his writing on himself and the odd words and how they all fit into the story – it was just such a great element to bring in.  I loved Nuala and the sparks and snark between her and James was fantastic. Hers was such a heartbreakingly beautiful story, and add into the mix James and I was utterly sold.

Ballard was a beautiful companion novel, and it fulfilled my desperate wishes to see more of James and finally give him a bit of happiness. I think of the two I preferred Ballard, but without the lead in that Lament offered, it wouldn’t have been quite so fantastic, so I definitely recommend the two books as a whole, as they paint a rather fascinating new idea of faeries that was reminiscent of Holly Black and Melissa Marr’s faerie books. Fans of Stiefvater’s work will love these two, although I don’t think they quite come up to the exquisite beauty found in The Scorpio Races – but then again, I think I’m just biased…


  1. I read Lament awhile back and while I enjoyed it and found it a bit surprising, I wasn't chomping at the bit to read Ballad. I've had a copy for a few months and I shall be getting to it soonish as I've heard lots of good things about James.

  2. I read Lament. And to be honest am a big fan of Luke and Dee being a couple. I don't know why but it is exciting! Its almost like forbidden love and that made me race through pages. I finished the book in the total of 2 days. Although I cant wait to read Ballad. I hope that there's a sequal to Luke and Dees story. For instance, Luke is a faerie now and Dee is still a human. Will that effect there relationship? What happened to Delia? What happens in the future? Will Dee and Luke be together or is that impossible and Dee is going to get a new lover? Will Luke fall in love for another faerie, instead of being with Dee the human? Or Will Luke have a change of personality? Quoting his words that all faeries can be evil and could kill you for your voice? What about Luke's point of view? And what about Dee? What about her powers? What more can she do? And her mum, will she ever get her angelic voice back? So many questions. I just really hope that there could be another story on Dee and Luke. Even though James is a good character, am mostly drawn to the following: Dee Luke . Am drawn to other characters but they are my favourites. If anyone sees a fanfiction or a book that continues their love story, not including Ballad, Please tell me by replying to my comment please? ^-^ I love this book, I almost cried when it ended.....I need to read more...About Luke and Dees forbidden love story! :D