Review: Ballad by Maggie Stiefvater (The Faerie Queen’s Deception #2)

In this mesmerizing sequel to Lament: The Faerie Queen’s Deception, music prodigy James Morgan and his best friend, Deirdre,untitled (2) 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.(

I didn’t think I’d like this book since it’s written from James POV.

But I’m so VERY pleased with how this book turned out!

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This is a companion novel. Companion novels are fine, in fact some of them are great, but I think there is an extremely important distinction to be made between a “sequel” and a “companion.” Honestly, the expectation that Ballad would be a traditional sequel to Lament kind of ruined the first half of the book for me. I was fully prepared for more Deirdre and Luke. Again, nope. This book is told from the point of view of James (Deirdre’s best friend in the first book) and a new character. It focuses on James so much that half of the time I forgot that Deirdre was even a character

Witty repartee and quirky t-shirts aside, BALLAD brings us infinitely farther into James’ mind than the brief glimpse we got in Lament: The Faerie Queen’s Deception And what’s there is richer and more painful than one might expect from his humorous exterior. The sort of deal Nuala offers is the height of temptation for this troubled young man who is obsessed with music and excellence and who is so very alone. BALLAD is a tighter story than its predecessor and that fact was clear from page one. James and the cadre of disciples he gathers round him like a cloak at Thornking-Ash fairly leap off the page at you until all you want in life is to be chummy and sarcastic with them all day long. Nuala is a different story. The chapters alternate between James and Nuala’s point of view (with a few text messages from Dee interspersed here and there). And as she gets to know and appreciate James, I came to like her more and more. But Nuala didn’t ever quite come into focus for me as much as James did. Of course, he’s a hard act to follow. For as he edges closer and closer to completely unravelling, his witty facade gets sharper, more honed, more irresistable. Both to the reader and the psychic vampire obsessed with him. I laughed and gasped and wrung my hands with worry for this boy. And I miss him now that it’s over.

Ballad isn’t a fast paced, action-packed adventure. If that’s what you’re in the mood to read, look elsewhere. Instead, Ballad is slow and lush and gut-wrenching, with gorgeous writing that paints a detailed picture of the emotional devastation of loving someone who truly loves you in return but not in a romantic way. The guy in love is James Morgan; clever, complicated and brilliant. The girl he loves is Deirdre (Dee) Monaghan, his best friend who, in Ballad, is still mourning Luke, the tortured and tormented assassin from Lament who may no longer even be alive and is certainly beyond her reach

Above all, though, this book worked wonderfully because of the protagonists — James and Nuala. Their sarcasm and wit just won me over. Yes, I love sarcastic characters. Sarcasm is usually just a defense mechanism, after all, hiding deeper (and sometimes darker) things. The story was so enthralling to me because I had characters leading me along whom I actually did like and care about. (It goes without saying that Deidre’s text message snippets in between most of the chapters annoyed me. You thought Bella Swan was bad? Just take a look at Deidre Monaghan.)

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