Ballad: A Gathering of Faerie (Books of Faerie #2)
Ballad, sequel to Lament
If youve read any of my reviews of Maggie Stiefvaters work, you already know Im a huge fan (like, an embarrassing, fangurl type of fan). I pick her books up with a mixture of excitement and trepidation, always ready for an amazing, lyrical ride, but more than a little worried about how things are going to turn out. Shes not afraid of bittersweet. I am. If a writer can make your stomach hurt before you even open her book, you know shes good.
Of course, Ballad was everything I expected and more.
I loved Luke in Lament. I loved Sam in Shiver. But I have to say, hands down, James is my most favorite and crush-worthy Stiefvater creation. Hes cocky. Hes arrogant. Hes flawed and real and leaps off the page. Just how I like em. Nualas layers, mysteries and complexities make for an intriguing heroine. I rooted for her and James to succeed from the first chapter.
Also, there is kissing. Hot. Kissing.
Dee, from the first book in the series, reappears. She did several things that made me not like her as much as I did in Lament. So, with the unresolved issues and all that, I really need a book three. (Did you hear me, Flux? Maggie? Dont make me write fan fiction.)
While the storyline is flawless, its Maggies subtext that always grabs me and sticks around in my brain for days (and its already crowded in there). Shes done a gorgeous job with it in Ballad, this time addressing the wanting, the burning, the desire for MORE so many artists struggle with. Im not sure Maggie gives the reader a resolution, but the concept sure makes you ask yourself some hard questions.
I know Ill see more in the next go around. Maggies books always warrant a second (third, fourth) read either because I missed some details and want to feel smart when I catch them or because I want to immerse myself in the beauty of her writing again.
Go get Ballad now. You know you want to, just like you know it comes with my highest recommendation. 5/5
As an added bonus, here are some short stories by Maggie at Merry Sisters of Fate about characters from the faerie series:
As impossible as this sounds, I think Ballad was even better than Lament! I thought the plot was a lot more original and I loved that James was the main character, he was my favorite character in Lament and I was glad to get to see more of him in this book. Nuala and him were so cute together that I kept rooting for them the whole way through the book. I was so sad when I thought she might die, and I found myself reading faster and faster and growing more and more worried as the book went on and he still hadn't saved her, and it even crossed my mind for a moment that maybe she wouldn't be able to become human and stay with James. I think that is what made me love this book, was I never was quite sure what would happen in the end, there were so many ways it could go, and many unexpected things happened that I just kept reading and reading, and enjoying it the whole way through. Plus it was funny. Which naturally made it 20 times better.
After reading LAMENT, I was eager to read BALLAD. Though I wasn't sure how I'd feel about James narrating, I ended up really enjoying his perspective. He was wonderfully tragic and compelling, and his motivations were heartbreakingly clear. Oh, and the end. . . .
I wish there were more in this series.
Maggie became famous for her Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy, but I fell in love with her writing when I read Lament and its sequel Ballad. This book is jaw-droppingly good. (Is that an adverb? It totally should be.) My favorite part of this book is the way we get to live--really live--beneath the skin of the main characters. I felt like I was a part of them. I also loved the way the story unfolded in my mind in vivid, lush detail. Not so much detail that I was skimming just to get to the good parts. But detail that made me sit up a little straighter and say to myself "YES. I know what that looks like/feels like/smells like." The stakes are satisfyingly high, the plot is paced well, and James??
Oh, James. He has my heart. What a hero! If you love Maggie's other books (or if you're new to Maggie's writing), this book is the place to start.