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The Book of Faerie: Lament & Ballad (A YA Book Review)

The Book of Faerie consists of two books currently, Lament and Ballad by Maggie Stiefvater. Lament is the story of Dee who is gifted with the Sight—an ability to see faeries—also known as a Cloverhand. Soon she is swept off her feet by faerie assassin Luke Dillon and is caught up in an elaborate ploy involving the Faerie Queen. At first the style of this book was jarring, but after about three chapters it felt more like the Maggie Stiefvater I am familiar with (The Raven Cycle and The Scorpio Races). The world building is second to none and, like Dee, I am keen on Luke Dillon. I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars.

Ballad is a whole other ball of wax. This book is from the alternating perspectives of James, Dee’s best friend who professed his love for her in Lament, and Nuala a faerie muse who is more human than faerie, but consumes her boyfriends to sustain her life. Yet still has to burn and be born again every sixteen years. Nuala takes on the desired form of her love interest, which in this case is James. James still has complicated feelings for Dee, and Dee is fairly absent from this book, the majority of her interaction being unsent text messages to James. The setting is the musical school mentioned in the first book Thornking-Ash. The theory is those who are musically gifted (Dee—harp, James—bag pipes) are more likely to catch the faeries attention. James pursues the Thorn King, or King of the Dead, Nuala pursues James, Dee pursues the elusive Luke Dillon. I didn’t care much for James and Nuala’s perspectives, especially Nuala. She hates on Dee constantly—which is kind of a shame considering she knows nothing about her or her backstory. And James never enlightens her. Not that I don’t think James deserves love, he does. In the end, I liked Nuala more, but for most of the book I dreaded her perspective. That aside, the world still rocks. The faeries are growing stronger and are trying to take down the Cloverhand (Dee), and James’ teacher Sullivan is a standout character. One bad thing: NO LUKE DILLON. And it ends in a cliffhanger, with book three nowhere in sight. I gave this one 3.75 out of 5 stars.

I found that Maggie had sold it to Scholastic, but then asked for it back to rework. The title is Requiem and she has admitted the first words of it are Luke Dillon. The problem is Ballad was published in 2008 and since Maggie has written the Shiver trilogy and The Raven Cycle, among other books, and has grown as a writer. There are even some parallels I noticed between Ballad and the Raven Cycle (ideas, names used, etc.) I read that she wants to stay true to fans of the Book of Faerie, but her writing has changed so much in the 8-9 years since the first two books were published. I hope she decides to publish Requiem because I would love to know what happens to Dee, James, Nuala, Sullivan, and Luke Dillon.

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