What's this? An actual review? Yep, I'm finally getting myself back on track. All my books for review have been fabulous lately so I'm eager to share my opinion! As LAMENT is a Flux book I would like to point out the Flux Blog. I liked the mini FAQ because I'd be formatting things OUT of Times New Roman. I hate that font with a passion. Nothing against serifs, really - I like Georgia which is virtually identical except for more prominent serifs. (Not to say I'm not a sans-serif/Gothic girl at heart. Give me Helvetica, Arial, or Verdana. The new Calibri is also lovely - it's one of the few good things about Word '07.) Perhaps it's so ingrained into our culture, but I find it uninspired.
By Maggie Stiefvater
I love faeries. Full stop. I adored discovering new versions of tales I was familiar with as a child. Weighing the pros and cons to determine which was my favorite. What rules of faerie I liked best. As an Irish-ish girl, I leaned toward that family of tales. Maggie Stiefvater's debut clearly draws from the Celtic tradition. But she commands the material and fully satisfied this picky aficionado.
A large part of my satisfaction is her characterization. There are no throwaway characters. Coworker Sarah appears maybe three times but still grows as a person. Freckle Freak, Deirdre’s aunt, and others become scarier as the book continues. LAMENT begins low-key, at a music competition at the high school. There’s a niggling sense of wrongness, but nothing too worrisome. Blood, life-or-death decisions, and even death play their parts in the climax. Yet the book builds slowly to that point.
In that movement the characters reveal their personalities. Deirdre lacks a certain kind of confidence. She knows she’s a talented harpist but needs prodding to take the last step and try to improvise. Luke first pushes her to take steps she should have taken herself, but then she begins to develop her own initiative. She senses he’s dangerous and lying to her from the first but doesn’t truly follow him of her own will at the beginning.
While Luke is the dangerous and attentive new boy, her old friend James, the piper, is sheer adorable. Unlike Deirdre he acknowledges his gifts and uses them to her full potential – yet he can’t tell a girl he likes her just like any teenage boy. I loved the jealousy between him and Luke that goes just above Deirdre’s head.
Stiefvater plays with the classic set-up of a talent human who catches the attention of Faerie masterfully. Without ever losing that mood she still delivers an utterly teenage romance. Really, she hit all of my buttons in all the right ways. It’s not just the faeries, but the music, the assassin, the politics, the banter. It’s like she read a field guide to what sort of books I spent my childhood reading before she produced LAMENT.
I’m sad my first review got erased, because it encompassed the book far better than this one did. Let’s just leave it with favorable. If you like faeries, thrilling climaxes, and rounded characters, treat yourself to LAMENT for the holidays. It’s in bookstores now and BALLAD will hit the shelves in 2009, as will SHIVER (from Scholastic). You can bet I’ll be picking both up ASAP.
You can find Striefvater many places on the 'net, including her website, el jay, and the Merry Sisters of Fate comm. The last includes weekly fiction - totally awesome and highly recommended. Don't forget her art blog either.