A review of Lament: The Faerie Queen’s Deception (Books of Faerie #1), by Maggie Stiefvater
by REBECCA, January 9, 2013
Deirdre Monaghan: a shy and brilliant musician, when her eyes are suddenly opened to the world of Faerie she knows her life will never be the same again
Luke Dillon: fascinated by Deirdre, he appears just around the time things start getting weird . . .
James: Deirdre’s best friend, a piper who is always ready with a joke or late-night support, as the occasion requires
Granna: Deirdre’s grandmother, attuned to the world of Faerie
Sara: Deirdre’s superficial coworker who just might be an ally (and is definitely not good at ice cream scooping)
At a local music competition, Deirdre meets Luke, a mysterious boy who seems to know just what buttons to push to get her to explore abilities she never knew she had. As Deirdre’s musical talents blossom and she falls for Luke she also finds that she is a cloverhand—someone who can see fairies—and that something about her has caused the Faerie Queen to feel threatened. Threatened enough to have her killed. But is her relationship with Luke more likely to save her life, or to get her killed?
Lament: The Faerie Queen’s Deception is Maggie Stiefvater’s first book, and I’m not at all surprised that the first book of such an awesome talent was published by the equally awesome Flux, one of my favorite publishers. Now, anyone who reads Crunchings and Munchings knows that I’m a big Maggie Stiefvater fan (check out a review of The Scorpio Races HERE and of The Raven Boys HERE)! The first Stiefvater book I ever read was Shiver, which I thought was beautiful, although the rest of the series wasn’t quite my cup of tea. Still, even though I wasn’t super taken by Linger, the second in the series, I remember thinking: this woman’s writing is gorgeous and I’m absolutely going to check out whatever she writes next. And I did. But somehow I managed never to get around to the Books of Faerie series. But never fear, fair readers, for I finally got my act together.
Lament is a totally charming take on what can happen when a human catches the eye of the fae. Deirdre is smart and quite likeable, and I loved that she played the harp. Her relationships with the other characters are well-drawn—her quippy and totally comfortable one with James, her exasperating one with her overprotective mother, and her close but mysterious one with her grandmother, and her avoidant and creepy one with her aunt. Most importantly, of course, is her relationship with Luke, which she doesn’t trust but can’t seem to give up on.
Luke finds Dee in the bathroom where she is vomiting up her nerves before a music competition. When she turns to see him she recognizes him from her dream the night before. And things only get more confusing after that. Somehow, Luke knows of abilities that Dee hasn’t even discovered in herself yet: that she can compose gorgeous harp music on the spot, that she has mad guts, and that she can see fairies. After she meets Luke, Dee starts seeing . . . things . . . four-leaf clovers seem to appear everywhere, she is sure she sees a pack composed entirely of her own dog, and then, well, there is the little matter of a newly acquired case of telekinesis. And did I mention the mind-reading? Oh, yeah, and the fairies. What in the holy hell is going on? Only Luke seems to know for sure, and when Dee looks into Luke’s mind, what she sees is extremely disturbing. And why does she still crave his presence . . . if he’s a murderer?
Populated with a number of devious, beautiful, scary, and downright wacky fae, Lament is our world only better. It keeps its mundane where it belongs (Dee works at an ice cream shop and has the misfortune to own a mother-procured cardigan set) and introduces delightful bits of the otherworldly just when we want them. Best of all, unlike many recent entries into the paranormal romance genre that feature a supernatural boy who expresses his love by being a creepazoid, Luke is a complex but non-abusive fellow. I mean, yeah, he’s assassinated people and all that, but the Queen made him do it. After all, she does hold his soul captive.
what were this book’s intentions? did it live up to them?
Lament delights in a number of different mythologies and stories about faeries, and the combination creates a rich world that feels internally consistent but not imported from any recognizable stories. The throughline is music: faeries are musicians of otherworldly skill, so Deirdre’s talent shines their light on her. The scenes of music in the book are some of my favorites, and make me doubly excited to get to the sequel, Ballad: A Gathering of Faerie, in which Dee goes to a music conservatory!
It is also the story of a first love. Dee never dated in high school (as Sara never forgets to remind her) and now that she is seeing Luke she realizes that people only ever noticed her for the things she was good at—never just for herself. Luke’s “fascination” with her vacillates between feeling gratifying and feeling yet again like someone who just appreciates her talents. Either way, their relationship, though vexed by the whole maybe-he’s-trying-to-assassinate-me issue isn’t nearly as angsty as it might have been which is, depending on your tastes, a huge relief or a bit of a let-down. For me, it worked because it highlights that Lament is not, first and foremost, a romance. Luke catalyzes Deirdre’s coming into her own but he doesn’t own her. At least not in this book. Thus, one of my biggest pet peeves is avoided: the heroine needn’t sacrifice her [life/passions/future/autonomy/options/family/etc.] for her first-ever relationship, which probably won’t last anyway. JUST SAYING!
The pacing here was mostly good, although the final scenes felt a tad rushed (and the character of the Faerie Queen a little flat). However, Lament didn’t fall victim to series-itis, in which an author doesn’t bother to give the book a real conclusion since she knows there will be sequels. It ended on a good note while still opening the story up for the sequel. Best of all, I think we’ll get more James in future books; I’m so glad that he, too, was not sacrificed on the alter of first love. All in all, I can’t wait to read the rest of the series!
War For the Oaks by Emma Bull (1987). In this ass-kicking book by Emma Bull, Eddi McCandry finds herself in the middle of a war between the Seelie and Unseelie courts. All she wanted to do was put together the wickedest rock band this side of ever, and she accidentally made magic. Not a terrible turnout, Eddi. My full review is HERE.
Tithe (The Modern Faerie Tales #1) by Holly Black (2002). Kaye is used to living in crap motel rooms and dingy apartments, touring with her mom’s band. But when they end up back in New Jersey for a spell, Kaye rescues a mysterious stranger and finds herself in the middle of a power struggle between two Faerie kingdoms.
procured from: the library