Sunday, November 8, 2009

Ballad: A Gathering of Fairy by Maggie Stiefvater (4/5 stars)

This book is the sequel to “Lament”. You wouldn’t have to read “Lament” to enjoy this book but “Lament” does provide a lot of good background between Dee and James. This was a good book, I enjoyed it. I am finding that Steifvater has a very distinct writing style; I am not totally in love with it but I do love her characters.

Dee and James have started school at Thornking-Ash. Each of them is having their own problems. James keeps hearing the song of the horned king and wants to chase it down. Then he happens upon Nuala, she is a low type of fairy who feeds off of a person’s creativity to live. Nuala and James dance back and forth, as Nuala tries to draw him into a deal. While they are absorbed in this game something big is happening in Fairy. The new Fairy Queen wants to shrug free of the power of the Cloverhand (Dee) and has a plan to do it; but how much will her plan cost in lives?

I liked James voice better than Dee’s from the “Lament”. James is just more interesting and has a more fascinating perspective on the world. The chapters alternate between James’ and Nuala’s point of view. Nuala has quite a bit of bite and is another interesting character to read about.

There is a lot of tension between James and Nuala, as Nuala struggles to not eat James life force. This makes the story interesting and propels the beginning of the story along despite the lethargic pace of the plot.

I am finding that Steifvater has a very distinct writing style. Her books are always very meandering and laid back in the beginning; she spends a lot of time talking about how the characters feel and following them through their everyday lives. Then tons of stuff happens in the last few chapters. This book is no exception to that; it follows exactly the same pattern as both “Lament” and “Shiver”. It is not my favorite writing style but it seems to work for this story. Stiefvater's real strength is in the likable and believable characters she creates, and how she makes them struggle to love against all odds.

The end of this book resolves some issues but not others. I haven’t heard that there are any more books planned in this world, but the ending leaves me to believe that they will be at least a few more.

All in all it was an enjoyable book. I still wish though that the action had been spread out more and not all shoved in at the end. That being said I will continue to read Steifvater because I really do like the characters she creates.

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