Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Lament: The Faerie Queen's Deception

Deirdre Monaghan is an incredibly gifted harpist. She is only sixteen, and as the book opens she is bracing to compete in the 26th Annual Eastern Virginia Arts Festival. Despite her talent and experience, Deirdre becomes so anxious before a performance that she invariably throws up beforehand. The competition is being held at her school, so she knows exactly which bathroom to go to for some privacy. So it is exceedingly odd when she encounters a young man in the remote bathroom, and it's even odder that she recognizes him, even though she's never met him before. She has dreamed about the "amazingly sexy" guy who introduces himself as Luke Dillon. She even knows his name before he introduces himself.

When she finds herself on stage, playing a duet with him - playing as she never has before, playing with courage and the confidence to improvise - it all seems perfectly natural, the way things should be. Even so, she has to admit there is something very strange about their meeting, and as strange things pile upon strange things in her life, from that moment that she met Luke, she comes to realize that the world contains things that she'd never thought possible. Soon she is swept up in the beauties and dangers - very real dangers - of that world. Luke has secrets, she knows, secrets he literally cannot bring himself to speak of, and it is clear that she has an important role to play - if only she could find out exactly what that role is, and exactly what is at stake.

There are many things I liked about this book. First and foremost are the characters, particularly as they they interacted with each other through lively and believable dialogue. Deirdre's best friend, James, is simply delightful - he's handsome and witty, and he could care less what other people (the ones who don't count, that is) think. He reminded me a bit of Simon from the Mortal Instruments series, with his hilarious remarks and wry sense of humor. I loved her down-to-earth grandmother, too, and also the chemistry between Luke and Deidre. It was refreshing to see a protagonist so infatuated with someone, yet still able to maintain her sense of self; Deirdre is strong on her own because of who she is, not because of who she is when she's with Luke. It was interesting to see that the qualities she has that make her such an excellent musician (discipline and creativity, among other things) are helpful tools in dealing with her otherworldly situation. I also loved the evocative sensory imagery, the scents and sounds and touches that are uniquely faerie, and the dreamlike quality of the narrative, which gave the book the atmosphere of a long and intricate ballad.

Ballad, the sequel to this compelling novel, will be released this coming fall.

Lament: The Faerie Queen's Deception by Maggie Stiefvater (Flux, 2008)

Also reviewed at:
Angieville: "In Lament Maggie Stiefvater artfully weaves together a heady mix of music, humor, exhilaration, and desperate longing. I enjoyed this book so much it is physically painful to me that the sequel, Ballad, isn't due out till next fall."
Bookshelves of Doom: "...prose with a rhythm and cadence and dreamlike quality that fit the chock-full of Celtic folklore storyline but that still felt that it fit in the here and now, a heroine who is bright and likable and who, though she is attracted to a beautiful boy, doesn't lose her own self because of it (*cough* Bella Swan *cough*)."
The Compulsive Reader: "Stiefvater strikes just the right balance between supernatural intrigue and down-to-earth teenage tendencies, making Lament engaging to even reluctant readers, despite its length."
Reader Rabbit: "Lament is a beautiful story that many readers will enjoy. There's something for everyone in this lyrical and unpredictable novel; even for those of you who don't particularly like faeries..."
The Story Siren: "Lament has a little bit of everything; suspense, romance, intrigue, and action."

17 comments:

  1. Oo, this sounds good! I love it in fantasy novels when the protagonist's real life gives them some of the tools they need to deal with the fantasy world. :)

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  2. Seriously, Darla, this is too weird. I have my Lament review scheduled to post tomorrow (well, midnight tonight). I wrote it on Monday. Weird.

    Though I liked James in this book I absolutely HATED Simon in the Mortal Instruments series. Hate him! I even did a dance of joy when I thought he was dead. (ha! I'm so mean!).

    I am looking forward to Ballad!

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  3. Jenny - It's a good one. I'll be curious to hear what you think if you give it at try.

    Cat - That is odd, given all the books we could be reading and renewing in any given week! Oh, I thought James was so funny, particularly in the first book. Did you just find him annoying, or was it something else about him?

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  4. this is a gorgeous cover...I think this sounds great.

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  5. Serena - I love the cover, too. It wraps around the book to the back, and there's no copy on the back, just the artwork. It's lovely.

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  6. Ooh! I like the cover, title and your review sounds great! Definitely one for the list, thanks.

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  7. OH yes, this is something I'll want to read!

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  8. Mariel - I think this one is right up your alley!

    Amy - I hope you enjoy it as much as I did! :-)

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  9. This book sounds good. Sadly the library doesn't have it, but you are not the first person that made it sound it interesting. Maybe the library will buy it...

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  10. Kailana - the budget cuts are having such an impact on my library. :-( So often I read reviews of books that sound fantastic, but we just don't have the money for many. I hope your library will be able to get this one!

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  11. No, no! I LIKED James in Lament, I hated SIMON in Mortal Instruments. I found him whiny and just irritating!

    James I liked. Much better than Luke, he didn't really win me over much.

    My review is up now! :)

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  12. Cat - oh, I know what you meant, I just mis-typed that, sorry. I liked James better than Luke, too - although I did feel pretty bad for Luke by the end of the book! I'll be interested to see what happens in Ballad.

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  13. I'm so glad I found your site; you seem to have similar tastes in reading material and you have excellent reviews. I've got this one on my to buy list now!

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  14. Thanks, Trisha - me too! :-) I'll be looking forward to hearing what you think about this one.

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  15. I hated Simon in City of Bones, but by the end of City of Glass, I'd really come around about him. (It was really surprising, because I *really* didn't like him!)

    But I hope that the surface similarities don't scare people away from Lament -- because it's really, really, really super!

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  16. I have this waiting on my shelf and can't wait to read it! All the reviews make it sound like just my kind of book. It's good to see you enjoyed it too.

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  17. Leila - I agree - it really is a completely different book in tone and subject matter from the Mortal Instrument books. I just meant that I loved Simon and James for the same kinds of reasons - their wittiness and fun pop culture references, and the way they were both extremely intelligent and not at all bothered by what other people thought. I like that in a guy, apparently! :-) Glad you enjoyed this book, too.

    Rhinoa - Yes, I think you're going to like this one. And I know I always say that. But it's true!

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