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Book Geek Wednesday: Lament by Maggie Stiefvater

I realize that Lisa has already posted a review of this book-a glowing review whose enthusiasm was so contagious, it forced me to a bookstore and had me buying both Lament AND Ballad without having read anything by Ms. Stiefvater first. I trust Lisa’s judgment THAT much. And as usual, she didn’t disappoint.

Why am I reviewing this story, rather than its sequel? Well that might be part of a super secret we have in store for you readers, but which I’m sure you’ll really enjoy.

In the meantime, like Lisa, I did not immediately get drawn into the book. In fact, I read the first few pages over the course of a few months, and was just not impressed enough to keep reading. I had no IDEA what was happening within the first 2-3 pages, only that there was a white bird involved and it was trapped in a cage, and somehow, there was something cruel and torturous about keeping it there, as it seemed awfully human and its captured seemed awfully INhuman. But this did little to explain what the heck was going on and by the time we got to Deidre Monaghan, our heroine and average teenage girl, I was confused. Wasn’t this book supposed to be about fairies?

Well, I finally buckled down this past weekend and read through. Several things immediately struck me about Deidre. She is the every girl, the high school geek who never feels like she quite fits in, since most of the world just finds her so amazingly ordinary. And I loved that. I was a theatre girl in high school, I did musicals, I sang, I acted, and I was a geek, let’s face it. I loved performing, took it way seriously, though it made me wicked sick the entire day before. Not throw up in the bathroom sick, like Deidre, but, you know, can’t eat, can’t sleep, insane ball of energy kind of sick.

Anyway, I related to her on a lot of levels, loved how she carried a kind of confidence that came with her musical talent but it never made her haughty. In fact, she never felt special in anyway. But she was wrong. Her ability to play the harp so beautifully, to sing with a voice so lovely, has a very distinct correlation to her special, newfound ability, being a cloverhand, one who sees fairies.

And I love that it went WAY further than that. I was expecting, uh oh, she can see fairies, they’re going to totally harass her. Well yea, they do, because let’s face it, they’re mischievous little buggers, but Deidre’s power starts to manifest in other interesting ways that I won’t reveal, as I feel they’re really great spoilers.

Amidst all of these changes, Deidre has to deal with several things. One, her best friend and rock, James who is undoubtedly falling in love with her and will ruin everything between them if he ever voice it. And the mysterious Luke, who she’s seen in her dreams and suddenly makes a real life appearance. The story definitely took a stunning turn with Luke, who’s entire budding relationship with Deidre left me breathless on more than one occasion. I particularly enjoyed how they did average every day things together, like eat ice cream and go for walks, though they both knew that the other suspected something far more supernatural happening. I see the reality of not mentioning how unlikely Luke’s presence was, for fear that it might, POOF, disappear, like her dreams. It made the discovery of his true identity fascinating and scary. Is he good? Is he bad? What does he really want with Deidre?

Overall, Ms. Stiefvater does an amazing job telling this story in a way that made me smile and ache and cry and snicker. Her writing is fluid and beautiful and effortless. Having already bought Ballad, I devoured it the very next day. Maybe Lisa and I will discuss it together. 🙂 Because James kind of won me over. As I have a feeling he did to her as well. 😉

Lament receives an enthusiastic A+.

Lisa’s Tuesday Perspective – Lament: The Fairy Queen’s Deception by Maggie Stiefvater

It’s no secret that there’s sort of been a Faeriesplosion in the YA section of the book store.  Well, maybe a parasplosion is a bit more accurate, but admit it, there are a bunch of faerie books out there… we’ve reviewed a handful of them right here.  I’ve read a few, and poked around at several more, and I really wanted to find one to fall breathlessly,  head-over-heels in love with, but instead I kept getting frustrated.

Many books on the market are just not what I’ve been looking for, where the Faerie world has been “reinvented” as a grunge-type underworld.  Which is okay, and certainly one way to deal with the issue, but the ones I’ve read (Tithe, for example) just haven’t done it for me.  This is for multiple reasons, but the main one has always been that… well personally I always thought faeries were cool enough (not to mention threatening enough!) on their own.

And then I heard all the buzz about Maggie Stiefvater’s Shiver, and basically swallowed that book whole, which caused an impending demand to read Stiefvater’s other two published books, which leads us to Lament.  I’m not going to tell you that this book grabbed me and held me in place from the very first page, because that would just be lying—it took until page six.  After that, though, I was a goner.  Goner than gone.

I am, embarrassingly, almost speechless about this book, because it is so very good.

The main storyline is this: Deidre Monaghan is a normal teenage girl.  She happens to be exceptionally talented at two things: music, and being completely invisible in high school.  Then one summer day at a music competition she’s found and entranced by the slightly older, and utterly fascinating Luke Dillon—who finds her fascinating as well.  While she knows that something is not normal about Luke, and he knows she knows it, she can’t or won’t bring herself at first to question it.  As events (or otherwise) continue to throw them together, though, strange things are happening around and within Deidre, leading her to the discovery that she’s a cloverhand, or one who can see faeries.  And really, that is just the beginning.

There is something immensely lyrical about this book, yet at the same time the language is very fresh and the wit is quick and lively.  It’s the seemingly effortless passing between the modern and the formal that is so breathtaking.  Well, that and the fact that Luke keeps calling Deidre “pretty girl,” because really, I think I gushed that much more every time he did it.  The wonderful thing about this story is that, for all its fantastical elements, the main storyline rings out true and exceptionally identifiable—the story of someone with quiet insecurities, who is suddenly recognized for being beautiful, interesting and powerful, and being recognized as such, becomes so.  Deidre seems to realize her own possibilities as they are seen by Luke, the wayward gallowglass.

Of course the more powerful Deidre becomes (and “awesome” is a fitting description, just by the by), the more danger she’s in, as the jealous Faerie Queen wants her head.  She has the protection of iron with her at all times, but with malicious, and outright homicidal faeries coming out of the woodworks all around, will it be enough?  I can’t tell you.  Well I could, but I’m not going to.  You’re just going to have to find out for yourself.  All I can say is that this is honestly the most delicious book I’ve read all year.  Good enough to read a second time immediately after finishing—though I have Ballad, the sequel, so I suppose I’ll work on that first (she says coyly, even though she’s almost 80 pages into it already).

Meanwhile, Lament has a lot of nice cameos by the PRETTY side of Faerie.  The Daoine Sidhe and a certain triplet of child-sized faeries were of particular delight.  And I may have already said too much about Luke, but let’s just say that he’s dream-worthy.  Ballad focuses on Deidre’s best friend James, who is promising quite a story himself, which I will be telling you about soonly.

Lament gets an A++ from me.  Ms. Stiefvater? You officially have a fan for life.

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