Ballad by Maggie Stiefvater

This sequel to Lament continues the story of Dee and James, this time from James’ perspective.  Now the two of them are at Thornking-Ash, a boarding highschool for musically talented teens.  James is an incredibly talented piper and his talent draws in a faerie who seeks out musicians and gives them great music in exchange for years of their lives.  Nuala arrives ready to make a deal with James, but as they get to know one another better, her motives change.  Now they must deal with the fact that Nuala lives only 16 years and will be burned alive on Halloween only to return reborn without any memories.  And on top of that, they have to stop the cunning other faeries who are searching for more power through Dee.

Stiefvater has outdone herself here.  Her prose is thorny, magical, and gripping.  The novel draws you into its faerie ring and won’t release you until you are gasping for breath from the dance.  Her characterization of James is poignant and soul searching combined with a sarcasm and wit that really brings him to life.  Nuala is a character readers will be set to detest, but will slowly warm to just as James does.  She is a complex character who changes through the course of the book believably.

The setting of the school is done very well.  It becomes both an area of safety and a place of fear.  The campus setting is ideal for this sort of story with its separateness, community and structure. 

Impossible to put down, breathlessly turning and spinning, this novel is a wonder.  Highly recommended to all libraries and to all teens who loved Lament, this book is appropriate for ages 13-17.

Reviewed from copy received from publisher.

Also reviewed by Bib-Laura-graphy, Angieville, Jen Robinson’s Book Page, Library Lounge Lizard, The Well-Read Child, and Charlotte’s Library.