February seems to be my month of surprising reading experiences.
I was reluctant to read Maggie Stiefvater’s Ballad: A Gathering of Faerie. I read Lament, and honestly didn’t care for it–mostly the dialogue felt off to me, I think, and the ending didn’t satisfy me although I won’t say WHY because then I would spoil it for anyone who hasn’t read it yet. But I kept hearing good things about Ballad, and I didn’t know what to read, so I finally got it from the library.
All I can say is, I totally loved this book. Stievfater has just made leaps and bounds as a writer. That is kind of exciting to see, because it gives me hope for my own process.
Okay let me give you the synopsis before I get too carried away:
James Morgan has an almost unearthly gift for music. And it has attracted Nuala, a soul-snatching faerie muse who fosters and then feeds on the creative energies of exceptional humans until they die. James has plenty of reasons to fear the faeries, but as he and Nuala collaborate on an achingly beautiful musical composition, James finds his feelings towards Nuala deepening. But the rest of the fairies are not as harmless. As Halloween—the day of the dead—draws near, James will have to battle the Faerie Queen and the horned king of the dead to save Nuala’s life and his soul.
I was really captivated by the emotional progression of the characters in this novel. I loved James, the protagonist; he felt really, really alive to me. I’ve known boys like James. I think I had crushes on some of them. Which means obviously I cared enough about him to be totally biting my nails and worrying as the story progressed and the tension built. Really delightful, eerie, sad, sweet, and funny in just the right places. I am wondering if there is going to be a third book? Because I feel like James has (mostly) gotten his resolution, but Dee (the protagonist of Lament and James’s best friend) really hasn’t yet. Also, I get a kick out of the interaction between Nuala and James and would be interested to see how that unfolds.
I am always so happy when my expectations of a book are pleasantly overturned. And now I’m really excited about reading Shiver. . . which I also have from the library.