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Lament: The Faerie Queen's Deception: Maggie Stiefvater

Book: Lament: The Faerie Queen's Deception
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Pages: 336
Age Range: 13 and up 

LamentBackground: Lament: The Faerie Queen's Deception was recommended to me by Kim Kasch. I'd had it on my shelf for a while, but hadn't picked it up, because, in truth, the idea of a book about a faerie queen didn't grab me. But Kim emailed me about it, and then I read her review, in which she said: "This isn’t your typical kid’s fairytale that takes you on a journey to another world. Lament takes place in our world with modern-day settings. And, this story is filled with romance, suspense, and mystery, with just a slight touch of magic." Kim also compared Lament to Twilight. Kim's recommendation convinced me to give this book a try, and I was not disappointed.

Review: Lament: The Faerie Queen's Deception, by Maggie Stiefvater, is a deliciously creepy romantic novel. I read it in one sitting, on a rainy afternoon, and found it the perfect diversion. Lament begins with a disturbing prologue, the meaning of which only becomes clear much later in the book.

The main story begins the summer after Deirdre Monaghan's sophomore year of high school when her ordinary, relatively constricted life reveals unexpected depths. As Deirdre is preparing for a concert (she is a promising singer and harpist), a boy named Luke Dillon shows up, a boy that she previously dreamed of. Luke is stunningly handsome, and inexplicably fascinated by Deirdre. Although she's immediately besotted by Luke, too, Deirdre senses that there is something dangerous about him. Deirdre's grandmother doesn't want her to have anything to do with him. And people from Luke's life, apparently, don't want him to be with her, either.

Deirdre keeps finding four-leaf clovers, and learns early in the book that mischievous, potentially homicidal faeries are using the clovers to get her attention. She has to solve the mystery of Luke's role in the faeries' drama, while trying to keep herself, her family, and her best friend James out of danger. Deirdre also copes with family tensions between her controlling mother, her quiet father, and her toxic aunt, and tries to keep up with her job and her music, when all she really wants is to spend time with Luke. So, as in Stephenie Meyer's Twilight, we start with a supernatural story set against the backdrop of an apparently ordinary girl in a small town, pursued by someone larger than life. Deirdre, however, soon shows herself to be far from ordinary (and to be much stronger than Bella).

I enjoyed Stiefvater's writing very much. Lament is dark but witty, with flashes of both poetry and humor. Certain leitmotifs are carried through the text - birdcages and music, for example, rewarding the careful reader. Here are a few of my favorite passages:

"Delia was an overbearing cake with condescending frosting, and frankly, I was on a diet." (Page 28)

"I turned around. It occurred to me, in a me-looking-at-my-own-life-from-outside-my-body way, that Sara was being condescending. I raised an eyebrow." (Page 66)

"Inside, it smelled like antiseptic and old people. The low ceilings and chemical smell seemed to squash all thoughts out of me, making me aware of only the smallest, most inane details. The short squeak of my shoes on the tile. The hum of a fax machine. The whistle of air from the vent overhead. The tinny laugh of an actor on the waiting-room television." (Page 178)

"I sighed. I wanted to take this moment, wrap it in paper, and give it to myself as a gift every time I felt crummy." (Page 202)

Stiefvater is also adept in showing rather than telling to convey the essence of Lament's secondary characters. Deirdre's mother tells Deirdre what to wear on repeated occasions. Delia, Deirdre's aunt, is completely impassive in the face of humor. James, Deirdre's best friend, answers calls from her in the middle of the night, and brings her exactly what she needs, before she even knows that she needs it. [I was also amused to learn that Deirdre and James, when they have to communicate about difficult topics, resort to written (or typed) messages - a device that I just saw used in Lisa McMann's Fade.] Despite the first-person narration, I actually had a harder time getting a fix on Deirdre herself than on some of the other characters. But perhaps this just reflects her complex personality.

Overall, Lament offers a compelling and beautifully written glimpse at a hidden world, nearby but usually unseen. I would certainly recommend it for Twilight fan. I think that Lament will also appeal to other fans of tales of star-crossed love, and of fantasies in which the magical world is juxtaposed against the real world.

Publisher: Flux
Publication Date: October 1, 2008
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher
Other Blog Reviews: Kim Kasch, Charlotte's Library, The Story Siren, Angieville
Author Interviews: Cynsations, The Five Randoms

© 2009 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved.