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Ballad: A Gathering of Faerie by Maggie Stiefvater

I have fallen in love tonight.  I have fallen in love with a voice, the voice of an author named Maggie Stiefvater.  Before now I hadn't had the pleasure of reading any of Ms. Stiefvater's works and now I feel like I have missed out. Such a shame that I have been wasting so much time...when I could have been partaking in the perfection that is the prose of Maggie Stiefvater. (That was me being poetic)

Ms. Steifvater weaves a tale of fairies, unrequited love and the chilling end-all of death. Ballad focuses on the story of James, whom was introduced in Lament. James has followed Dee to boarding school, his love for her almost unbearable as she avoids him in their first weeks in school.  They were best friends and now Dee is acting strangely and he barely sees her anymore.

James is a sociable lad though, and he makes friends and carries on without her.  But, Dee is always on his mind and when they happen to run into one another the meetings are almost painful. During this time Dee is becoming more and more unstable and James is being pestered by a strikingly beautiful yet, very dangerous girl that calls herself Nuala. James is pulled in two directions - and the two paths that stretch before him both seem to end in pain and death.

I must state that before reading Ballad I did not read Lament. I think I wasn't paying attention. My fellow BWB companions said here read this Rach - and so I read.  I'm actually kind of glad that I read Ballad first. I'm never one to read in order.  Odd but that is me.  I feel I might have found a new perspective because of my reverse reading.  My reverse perspective found me hating Dee.  I was introduced to the broken character that she was.  A girl whom James was madly in love with but whom couldn't even open the lines of communication with him.  Each time he would reach for her, she would do something stupid or selfish which would have me hating on her even more and falling harder for James.

Ms. Stiefvater's characters had so much depth I felt as if they are real and could walk in upon me at any moment. The intricacies that are James and Nuala made them so believable and relatable that I mourned their passing as the last page came to a close.  Even the side characters of Paul and Sullivan were striking in their depth - considering Paul was used as a comic sort of character - but was so much more.

The only flaw I found with this book was near the ending I found she circled around the inevitable a little too long when she could have just plowed through to the end.

Parents have no fear when passing this on to your child. There is a bit of violence, and a smidge of cursing.  But nothing that they wouldn't see on prime time.

I am giving it a 4.5 because the quandary that is - an excellent book, but there are only a select few that can reach a perfect 5.

Blog with Bite Discussion Questions

James is a flawed and heart broken character, do you find his mental peculiarities charming or annoying? Please do explain.I love James and his peculiarities. His OCD, heart break and genius only made him a better and deeper character. The dialogue that he engaged in was some of the best character interaction that I have read in a really long time.  Ms. Stiefvater has a gift.

What did you think of James and Dee's kiss? This being a pivotal moment for their relationship, how do you think it changed James?
I wanted to choke the life out of Dee. Yet, her response was required.  It showed James that Dee was not his future.

Whom do you prefer Dee or Nuala?
Nuala hands down.  I like strong female characters.  Blithering, whimpering soggy females I just can't relate to.  So your heart is broken, stop crying, put on a mini skirt and date his best-friend!

What's your verdict on the best way to read Ballad?  Is it a stand alone book or do you need to read Lament first?  If you read Lament, what did it add/not add to Ballad?  If you haven't read Lament, do you think it would have added to your reading of Ballad?

I believe reading Ballad first gave me an interesting perspective on things.  I don't even want to like Dee.

We've been reading a lot of stories with fairies as the central paranormal creatures.  What are your thoughts on the "Fair Folk".  Do you believe in faires?

Fairy tales are always and interesting read for me. Depending on how they are told depends on how much I like them (rather obvious).  Sometimes the politics that is fairie is tiring.  All the courts and nobles etc. Its almost as if I'm reading a historical novel at times. I might not believe in winged creatures that are born when a baby laughs for the first time - but I do believe that something lurks in the in-betweens. Do they have wings?? Maybe.


Anonymous said...

what a kick a** review Rach....I LOVE Love love Maggies should read Lament and OMgosh Shiver is Fantastic!!!!!!

PeaceLove&Pat said...

I'm glad you like it too. I am with you about your perspective of Dee, that's why I am pro-Nuala. Dee irritates me. (maybe if I read Lament my feelings toward her might change)

This is also my first Maggie Stiefvater book, I also heart her now. I bought Shiver yesterday and Lament today to catch up with her :)

Caitlin said...

I'm with you on Maggie's writing.. it's truly beautiful. Glad you liked Ballad! Can't wait to see what you think when you get to Shiver...

Juju at Tales of said...

I too feel in love with her writing and voice when I read Lament.

Very well said!

Blodeuedd said...

I do want to try her, I hear she is sooo good :D

Book Crazy Jenn said...

Awesome review - I love all things Maggie too :) She's amazing - Shiver is just as good! :)

As for reading Ballad first, you should give Lament a try...I know WHY you did not find you wanted to like Dee...though Lament gives you another prospective on her...Def. worth the read I think :)

~Mary said...

I just finished Shiver and I am aching for more! I need her books! They totally speak to me! I love them!!!!

Ash. Elizabeth said... just convinced me to buy this series : )

choco (In Which a Girl Reads) said...

Wow, now you've convinced me to go out as soon as possible and pick up a copy of this book! Such a great review :)

Alessandra said...

Read Shiver and you won't be disappointed!

Sheere said...

Shiver was amazing and in a few months Linger will be avaliable! I can't wait

Alyssa Kirk @ Teens Read and Write said...

I love Maggie's writing but this story just didn't grab me. I liked Lament better, and read it just before Ballad. But I am a total James fan! And prefer Nuala over Dee. Great review!

Amanda Leigh said...

Wonderful review. Well, there's another author added to my TBR list

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