**spoiler alert** Another good adventure, a fast and involving read with likeable characters, although this one had more emotional darkness to it than**spoiler alert** Another good adventure, a fast and involving read with likeable characters, although this one had more emotional darkness to it than The Lost Hero. Hazel’s and Frank’s fates are worrisome, given how Hazel was dead but freed from the Underworld and there’s a prophecy about the length of Frank’s life. And why so many dead maternal figures in this series? First Leo’s mom, then Hazel’s and Frank’s, plus the dubious fate of Frank’s grandmother. Having lost my own mom not long ago, some of those scenes made me mist up a bit. Again, there’s more diversity than there seemed to be in the previous series in terms of characters with major roles, which is great. Hazel’s mom was a New Orleans gris-gris practioner/fortune teller of African-American/Creole descent and Frank is part Chinese, plus he’s Canadian. I love to see Canadians in fiction, as a matter of personal bias. (One of my favourite lines: “Here’s a tip, Alcyoneus. Next time you choose the biggest state for your home, don’t set up base in the part that’s only ten miles wide. Welcome to Canada, idiot.” – Frank, p 468.) Of course, it was great to see Percy in action again, being funny as usual but also taking on more of a mentorship role with Hazel and Frank as he tries to adjust to the new rules of the game. The Roman camp is intriguing, much more hardcore than Camp Half-Blood. I enjoyed seeing Nico again and hope he’ll have a larger role to play later in the story. Other fun elements: Ella the encyclopedic harpy, the Amazon sequence, Hannibal the elephant, and Arion the foul-mouthed super-horse. Looking forward to more!...more
Hadn’t intended to buy another book when I spotted this at Hastings (on special), but I flipped through it—the chapter titles alone are priceless—andHadn’t intended to buy another book when I spotted this at Hastings (on special), but I flipped through it—the chapter titles alone are priceless—and decided to take it home with me because a wisecracking retelling of Greek myth seemed like fun. Decided to start reading it soon after acquiring it because it felt like a good offset to the creepiness of The Ocean the End of the Lane and because the collection-of-stories format was something I could squeeze in between other activities. I enjoyed the spin on Greek myth as told in teenager demigod Percy Jackson’s voice. Purists probably won’t appreciate the way Percy throws in slang and references to modern concepts, but I did. Although I’ve been interested in mythology since being introduced to it by my sixth grade teacher, I’ve never made it all the way through Bullfinch’s Mythology due to its dry style. I’ve consulted it and other mythology books for specific stories over time, but never read them cover-to-cover. I’d forgotten—or never knew—how bizarre some of the tales are. Percy’s bias by turns highlights some the worst aspects of the stories and lightens the tone of others. Despite being the son of Poseidon, Percy does not approve of the way the male Titans and gods mistreated females of any type. Not really a surprise, given the way Percy loves his mom and interacts with girls in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians books, but nice all the same. He declines to start the stories of the main 12 gods and goddesses with Zeus, saying, “We’re going to talk about the gods in the order they were born, women first. Take a backseat, Zeus. We’re starting with Hestia.” (pg 64) Later, when relating the story of Artemis and her friend Kallisto, he says:
So Zeus once again proved himself a godly slimeball. Yeah, sure, he might hear me and get mad. It won’t be the first time I’ve taken a chance with Mr. Thunder. But, hey, I call ‘em like I see ‘em. …Unfortunately, Kallisto was all by herself. Zeus got his way. Afterward, Kallisto was too ashamed to say anything. She was afraid it was somehow her fault. Pro tip: if you’re attacked by a creep, it’s never your fault. Tell somebody. (pg 350)
However, he doesn’t candy-coat bad behaviour by the goddesses, either, and highlights some of Athena’s and Aphrodite’s nastier actions, as well. In presenting the story of Pandora, he says:
If you’ve ever wondered why humans suffer so much, it’s because of that stupid jar. At which point we’re supposed to say, “Way to go, Pandora! Thanks a lot!” Back in the old days, the writers (who were all guys) would say, “See? This story shows that women are troublemakers! It’s all their fault!” Epimethus and Pandora. Adam and Eve. That blame game has been going on for a long time. But I’m not sure why we’re criticizing Pandora for being nosy, or not following orders, or whatever. She was made to open that jar…by the gods. My real question: what was Aphrodite thinking? If she knew this whole Pandora thing would give women a bad rep for eternity, why did she go along with it? Me, I think she just didn’t care about the consequences. She wanted to make Pandora beautiful. She wanted to prove that love could succeed where the other gods had failed—even if it caused a global disaster. Way to go, Aphrodite! Thanks a lot! (pg 264)
Overall, a good crash course in Greek mythology with much entertainment value, especially if you’ve read the other Percy Jackson books; but I think I would still work if you haven’t. ...more
The author has captured the folk/fairy tale style well. The tale has a very interesting twist, and I'm further intrigued about how a character in StorThe author has captured the folk/fairy tale style well. The tale has a very interesting twist, and I'm further intrigued about how a character in Storm and Siege and Ruin and Rising is referred to as "the Too-Clever Fox" by another character....more
**spoiler alert** Another fun volume of the series, with some changes of scenery. This time, Peter Grant’s work takes him out to the country and to sm**spoiler alert** Another fun volume of the series, with some changes of scenery. This time, Peter Grant’s work takes him out to the country and to small towns, where he discovers varieties of magic new and peculiar to him and applies his ever-inventive brain to solving problems. Since Lesley’s in the wind and Nightingale stays back in London, Peter acquires a new partner-in-crime-solving, local Detective Constable Dominic Croft. I really like Dominic; he’s a delightful character—earnest, grounded, and well-prepared (as Peter notes, Dominic “had left the Boy Scout scale behind and was now verging on Batman levels of crazy preparedness” [pg 263]). He’s also equipped with a wry sense of humour that makes his scenes with Peter crackle. Dominic knows from the start that Peter is from the occult part of the police network (code term for supernatural cases: “Falcon”), and he gives Peter a good-natured ribbing about magic, etc.; but one of my favourite sequences is one in which Peter does showy magic in front of Dominic for the first time. The element of realistic disbelief is wonderfully handled. Sequences like this make me think of a blog post by author Walter Jon Williams, who talks about how a surefire way to ruin SFF fiction is by making characters who’ve never before encountered magic, etc., accept it too fast and too easily.
“What does that do?” asked Dominic. I considered telling him that it saved my brain by providing a power source external to my precious gray matter, but then I’d have to explain everything else. “Helps me cast spells,” I said. “Okay,” said Dominic. “Wait--magic spells?” I cast a simple lux impello combo which put a yellowish werelight about two meters over my head where, hopefully, it would bob about after me like a balloon, only brightly lit. Dominic stared at the werelight. “What the hell is that?” he asked. “It’s a magic spell,” I said, and Beverley snorted. “Show off,” she said. “I said I was going to do magic,” I said. “But…” Dominic floundered around for a bit before pointing at me accusingly. “You said that there’s weird shit, but it normally turns out to have a rational explanation.” “It does,” said Beverley. “The explanation is a wizard did it.” “That’s my line,” I said, and Beverley shrugged. (pg 161)
Peter also calls in, as a consultant on nature and natural magical events, Beverley Brook, minor river goddess and one of his crushes. I’ve been a little worried about what it might mean for Peter if he got together with Beverley, given the way the Rivers behave. (Peter says at one point, “I remembered Isis, wife of the River Oxley, telling me that I shouldn’t be in a hurry to go into the water.” [pg 299]) And, in previous books, I’ve found Beverley rather bratty. But in this book, while still quirky, Beverley demonstrates some complexity of character and does some very useful things. She and Peter become an item, and it looks and sounds like more than just something physical. There are also some crazy-cool magical sequences--chases and confrontations and rescues--for plenty of entertainment value. We get a few tidbits about Ettersberg, the major WWII wizardly battle referred to in previous books and in which Nightingale was a major player. We learn a little something about Folly housekeeper Molly’s true identity. The Lesley plotline makes a bit of progress, with an ominous hint of another complication brewing. There are unanswered questions about what the fae are up to (and Peter even mentions loose ends). The ending felt a bit abrupt, but I figure it’s a compliment to the author when I wish a book was longer. While this is obviously a crucial chapter in Peter’s development as a cop and a wizard and he needed to perform certain tasks without wizardly backup to continue building his skills, I still wish there’d been more of Nightingale (seen only briefly at the beginning and then featured in a couple of phone calls). Just because I think Nightingale is so awesome. But I still enjoyed the book very much....more
**spoiler alert** This book, while not as trippy-bizarre as The Dream Thieves, has one ‘What the hell…?’ moment after another. While we get some answe**spoiler alert** This book, while not as trippy-bizarre as The Dream Thieves, has one ‘What the hell…?’ moment after another. While we get some answers to previous questions, mysteries deepen on other levels. MIA residents of 300 Fox Way turn up, there is more than one death, sleepers are awakened, people hundreds of years old walk the Earth, someone turns out to be a dream creation, strange creatures and ominous portents appear, tragedies are averted, and more! There’s even a peculiar Englishman and a dog. I feel a bit bad about letting down the girl team, but Adam has surpassed Blue as my favourite character in this series. Maybe it’s because I tend to root for the underdog. Blue’s an outsider, too, but not as much as Adam. He’s a really amazing character, so complex, so good-hearted, yet his pain and inner conflicts are so real.
Adam Parrish was lonesome. There is no good word for the opposite of lonesome. One might be tempted to suggest togetherness or contentment, but the fact that these two other words bear definitions unrelated to each other perfectly displays why lonesome cannot be properly mirrored. It does not mean solitude nor alone, nor lonely, although lonesome can contain all of those words in itself. Lonesome means a state of being apart. Of being other. Alone-some. Adam was not always alone, but he was always lonesome. Even in a group, he was slowly perfecting the skill of holding himself separate. It was easier than one might expect; the others allowed him to do it. He knew he was different since aligning himself more tightly with the ley line this summer. He was himself, but more powerful. Himself, but less human. If he were them, he would silently watch him draw away, too. It was better this way. He had not fought with anyone for so long. He had not been angry for weeks. [pg 28]
He’s definitely making progress getting his anger, insecurity, trust issues, and pride under control. He comes to see that his friends are not letting him slip away and that their support is genuine because they care about him. He’s learning to accept help or gifts when offered. One example is when Gansey and Ronan show up at the courthouse to testify in Adam’s case against his father, and Adam sees their gesture for what it’s intended to be.
Gansey turned to Adam, finally. …Richard Campbell Gansey III, white knight, but his eyes were uncertain. Is this okay? Was it okay? Adam had turned down so many offers of help from Gansey. Money for school, money for food, money for rent. Pity and charity, Adad had thought. For so long, he’d wanted Gansey to see him as an equal, but it was possible that all this time, the only person who needed to see that was Adam. Now he could see that it wasn’t charity Gansey was offering. It was just truth. And something else: friendship of the unshakable kind. Friendship you could swear on. [pg 298]
(I have one quibble about the court issue, though: The court case is a big deal, even among all the other significant things going on in Adam’s life; but its outcome is never specifically referred to by the author elsewhere in the book. I presume the finding was in Adam’s favour and his father went to jail; but it would have been nice if there had been a very brief mention of the result afterward.) Although Adam still has no idea about the extent of the mutual attraction between Gansey and Blue, he seems to have given up on his romantic interest in Blue and accepted her as just a friend. Being good at keeping secrets himself, Adam gets Blue to admit that Gansey’s name is on the list of people who are supposed to die within the year. If he gets to ask Glendower for a favour, Adam wants to ask for Gansey’s life to be spared. Adam is also learning how to make use of his connection to Cabeswater, calling on it to insulate himself when his father comes to confront him and later shielding himself and those around him from falling roofing tiles at school. But it’s still too much for him at times. Noah and Blue and Blue and Calla have to pull him back from the brink of death when he goes too far into the supernatural realm. He loses his mentor, Persephone. But at the same time, he’s forging more of a friendship with Ronan, recognising how similar their lonely quests to control their strange abilities and fulfill their personal missions are. Adam demonstrates unexpected craftiness in coming up with a plan to blackmail Colin Greenmantle. Greenmantle is still looking for the Greywaren (which he believes is an object, unaware that it’s actually a person--Ronan) and will destroy people in Mr. Gray’s life in revenge for his failure to cooperate. Blue is great, though--kind and thoughtful, snarky and sweet, hardworking and wistful, and very believable. At one point when Blue is offended by comments made by a man at a gas station, Adam thinks, “It was amazing that she and Ronan didn’t get along better, because they were different brands of the same impossible stuff.” [pg 300] One of my favourite lines of dialogue from her: “Look, there’s no nice way to ask this, so I’m just going to put it out there: Do you think you might grow out of the crazy any time soon? Because I have a lot of questions about my father, and my mother’s missing, and trying to do crime scene via sing-along is starting to stress me out.” [pg 278] Blue seems destined to play a greater part in coming strange events with the special ability that she’s long questioned the value of.
“…Witches, my little floral cushion. That’s what we are.” A delicious and wicked thrill went through Blue at the word. It was not that she had aspirations of being a witch; it was that she had been a nameless accessory for so long that the idea of having a title, or being anything, was a delicious one. [pg 281]
Blue has several moments in this book in which she steps up and makes a significant contribution, even saving some people’s lives. She’s still fighting her attraction to Gansey but is losing ground, calling him at night and asking him to take her for drives. On one of those drives, they encounter one of Gansey’s classmates stranded at the side of the road, and it triggers one of Blue’s inner conflicts:
[Gansey’s] voice had changed immediately to his raven boy one, which made Blue suddenly annoyed to be seen in a car with him. …it was a concrete reminder that she had broken one of her most important rules. (Stay away from Aglionby boys.) [pgs 203-204]
Ronan continues to become more intriguing, with all his complexities and outer defenses at odds with his kinder tendencies. When he agrees to create evidence per Adam’s specifications to blackmail Greenmantle, he’s oddly angry about needing lies to accomplish the task. Yet he shows some surprising concern for Gansey, Blue, and Adam. He reveals he’s been creating Epi-Pens and stashing them everywhere in case Gansey gets stung again. He prevents Blue from falling in a cave. He accompanies Gansey to testify on Adam’s behalf vs. Mr. Parrish. He even lets Adam be the first to see the astounding project he’s working on at the Barns. I dislike schemers Colin Greenmantle and his wife, Piper, possibly more than the author intended me to. They are horrible, soulless, superficial wastes of human components; and I didn’t want them to accomplish anything. There are some interesting developments with other characters, as well. Gansey doesn’t change in personality, but there is a hint that he may have some further occult power of his own. Throughout, dead-but-mostly-present Noah has weird moments, getting scary, mindless, and destructive. Gansey intends to request the restoration of Noah’s life when he finds Glendower--but is it already too late? Of the women of Fox Way, Persephone and Calla come to the fore significantly; and those two are such contrasts to each other. Persephone is ethereal, quiet, spooky, and vague; and Calla is fierce, loud, abrupt, and funny. It occurred to me that Persephone, Maura, and Calla make up a trio of maiden, mother, and crone. Mr. Gray (the Gray Man), while he didn’t have a lot to do in this part of the story, got much more likable and human here. His protectiveness of Blue and her friends and family and his worry about Maura are charming. I also liked the giant, redneck-ish Jesse Dittley with his booming voice, blunt practicality, and soft spot for Blue. Trying to guess what might happen in the final book of the series would be futile; I know the author’s going to surprise me. ...more
**spoiler alert** The plot of this book is the wildest thing I’ve seen from the author so far. It’s bizarre and surreal, seasoned with skewed comedy a**spoiler alert** The plot of this book is the wildest thing I’ve seen from the author so far. It’s bizarre and surreal, seasoned with skewed comedy and scented with tragedy. Like all her other books, it’s made of well-turned phrases, beautifully described moments, and emotions depicted in ways that feel absolutely right and true. It was a very compelling read, and it made me decide against waiting to read the next book in the series--Blue Lily, Lily Blue--until it’s available in paperback. Blue, Adam, Gansey and Ronan continue to develop as likeable, fascinating characters, all of whose fates I care very much about. The book is strung with tension and peril, and I worried about what would happen to each of them. I’m still concerned the series will end sadly for one or more of them. We got some answers about Adam’s and Ronan’s strange abilities, and both got some moments of triumph; but there are still a lot more questions to be dealt with. Noah--the odd something-more-than-a-ghost-boy--has gotten more endearing. The sequence in which he suggests that Blue trying kissing him because he can’t fall prey to the prophecy that her true love will die if kissed is quirky, melancholy and adorable. The women of 300 Fox Way--Blue’s mother and extended family--continue to be interesting and quirky; but none has her own POV section, making them less vivid as characters. While in real life we can’t always know what makes someone tick, and his extremely strange behaviour helped drive the story, I still rather wish that Joseph Kavinsky--Ronan’s rival, dark mirror, apparent twisted admirer--had been given some POV sections of his own or that we could’ve at least found out more about him. I was uncomfortable with aspects of the plotline involving the hit man who calls himself the Gray Man, although I did like the direction his character arc is going. I’ll refrain from further comment now, as I suspect--well, I hope--my opinion of the character/situation may change as I read the next two books. So much to process and more to look forward to. ...more
**spoiler alert** Major spoilers. The writing continued to be beautiful, poetic, unique, quirky. The situations just pop off the page, and the words cr**spoiler alert** Major spoilers. The writing continued to be beautiful, poetic, unique, quirky. The situations just pop off the page, and the words create vivid images in the mind’s eye. Tragedy and comedy and all kinds of things in between. Lots of romantic stuff well-done to my taste--longing, desire, sweetness; classy, swoony, subtle things. This book begins with a new character, Eliza. She’s an interesting person, developing more layers as she goes. She moves from fledgling scientist with a mysterious past, turns out to be missing former child prophet, and is finally revealed as seraphim descendant/keeper of ancient memories/seraphim reborn. She’s one of the keys to saving the worlds, and a significant player in the story that Karou, Akiva, Zuzana, Mik, Liraz and Ziri are part of. Throughout the trilogy, I found Karou to be a much more vivid character than Akiva. She’s a solid character, relatable and decent to the core. I liked Akiva, but he just wasn’t as compelling as Ziri. I wanted Akiva and Karou to end up together more for her sake and all she’d gone through than for his. But it was nice that Akiva’s grandmother found him--and helped save him--and that he found out more about his mother and his heritage. Ziri! He’s literally and truly a beautiful soul, such a good man and a compelling character. He endures so much while impersonating Thiago for the sake of the alliance and everyone’s survival--and only a very few know what sacrifices he made, but he’s just the kind of person who doesn’t care if anyone knows. Given the resurrection option, I figured Ziri would survive somehow--though I got worried enough about the big battle in which his forces were so outnumbered that I skimmed ahead to reassure myself. Even when he has to kill Haxaya to stop her from destroying the alliance--also to save Liraz (though that was only the beginning of something developing between them; that scene in which Ziri and Liraz show up dripping wet and dragging Ten’s/Haxaya’s body was priceless)--it comes out all right in the end. Haxaya is resurrected and given another chance, a role to play in stopping Jael; so Ziri doesn’t have her on his conscience. Liraz’s character arc is fabulous. I enjoyed the way she grew out of her embittered, hateful, lonely stage. I predicted while reading book two that Ziri and Liraz would eventually end up together, and how it happens is nicely done. The interactions of two people who’ve never been in a romantic relationship are so sweetly awkward. Zuzana and Mik are cute, brave, resourceful and funny; poster kids for true love and loyal friends. It’s lovely that Karou has such good people on her side. The chimera-seraphim alliance is cool, especially when Akiva figures out how to use his magic to stop the power of hamsas (which, of course, also makes complete relationships possible between not only Karou and him but any other chimera and seraphim). Karou’s and Akiva’s relationship wouldn’t really mean anything in a world where their races were constantly at war. Jael’s ploy to get weapons from Earth by pretending to be Biblical angels is evil scary. The way Karou, Akiva & co. thwart him is very clever and doesn’t stoop to his level. The Esther development surprised me. I’d gotten thoroughly distracted by the idea of what Eliza’s mother might do and didn’t see the Esther twist coming. It was good that the hidden souls in Loramendi finally were gleaned and would be resurrected later--that had to happen--although I was a little sad that Brimstone wasn’t one of them. But I guess, in the tradition of great mentors, his time has passed and Karou has to carry on his legacy. I’m not sure how I feel about the ending of the book/series--“It was not a happy ending, but a happy middle” (pg 612). I didn’t want anyone else to die, but there’s still a lot hanging over everyone’s heads. Overall, though, I liked this trilogy very much and was very entertained by it. I definitely recommend it....more
**spoiler alert** I enjoyed this one more than the first book of the series, Lament, because a lot of it was from the POV of my favourite character in**spoiler alert** I enjoyed this one more than the first book of the series, Lament, because a lot of it was from the POV of my favourite character in Lament, James. It surprised me when James was referred to as cocky and selfish, because I never saw him that way at all; being inside his head and seeing all he put himself through for people he cares about, it’s obvious there’s much more to him. He’s talented, intelligent, and relentlessly flippant in a way I find charming. Although I liked Dee in Lament, aside from questioning her attraction to Luke, I found myself disgusted with her for most of this book in the same way I was disgusted with Bella for how she treated Jacob in Twilight. Expecting James to continue to be her loyal supporter despite knowing he’s in love with her while she’s moping around being in love with Luke—grrrr. But at least James was not nearly the doormat Jacob was. I loved the argument James and Dee had in English class couched in terms of Hamlet. I wanted to kick Dee's butt when she encouraged James to kiss her and then told him it only made her think about Luke. Fortunately, I didn’t have to endure seeing too much of that sort of behaviour depicted in detail. It was a clever strategy to have Dee’s POV represented only by a series of unsent text messages. When it was revealed that Dee was in serious trouble and had sorted out her feelings too late, I did get my sympathy for her back. Nuala was a bit problematic, being a leanan sidhe, a sort of succubus-muse who latches onto young men with talent and feeds off their life force. In the beginning, she was creepy and targeting adorable James. But as the story went on, seeing how leanan sidhe were mistreated low faeries on the totem pole and seeing her develop real feelings for James and deny her nature, she became more sympathetic. I’m still not entirely okay with James and Nuala as a couple. I understand what she sees in him, but what he sees in her is a bit baffling to me. And it’s a little disconcerting that the way she manifested was deliberately based on what would appeal to him, although Nuala doesn’t seem enthralled to be pleasing to him in all ways. It’ll be interesting to see how things play out in the next book. I also liked James’ English teacher, Sullivan, a mysterious but very believable mentor. His fate made me sad, and I wonder if there will be more to it. James’ roommate, Paul, was a good sidekick with his earnest nerdiness and complementary sensitivity to the faerie world. ...more
**spoiler alert** Spoiler-heavy review ahead. It’s the kind of book I like to talk about in detail…and I’ve been cooped up at home quite a bit lately.**spoiler alert** Spoiler-heavy review ahead. It’s the kind of book I like to talk about in detail…and I’ve been cooped up at home quite a bit lately. 4 ½ stars. This book is quite a mental ride. The plotting, the three-dimensionality of significant characters, the mix of realism and the supernatural--all impressive. I love the characters’ distinctive voices and how their backgrounds and/or abilities have shaped them. I’ve previously found Maggie Stiefvater’s writing very evocative, but this book may be the most evocative for me so far. She picks details that make things sound and feel so right. On a personal level, I could especially relate to Blue’s opinions about the Aglionby boys, being middle-class and public-school-educated myself. I could also relate to Gansey’s 1973 Camaro (I had a 1979 model for a long time)--the car’s tendency to stall and be difficult to restart when hot, the trick to getting the long doors closed, the loudness of the engine, the strong exhaust smell, the glovebox door that would pop open, and why anyone would keep such a car. Blue comes from a household of women--her mother, aunts, cousins, friends--with varying degrees of psychic ability. To Blue, “high school…felt like…a holding pattern. …the weirder she looked—the more she let other kids realize that she wasn’t like them, from the very beginning—the less likely she was to be picked on or ignored. …[In] high school, being weird and proud of it was an asset. Suddenly cool, Blue could’ve happily had any number of friends. And she had tried. But the problem with being weird was that everyone else was normal. “So her family remained her closest friends, school remained a chore….” (page 104) But Blue herself is not psychic; she can only amplify others’ abilities and supernatural events. One of Blue’s tasks is sitting in a ruined churchyard on St. Mark’s Eve and writing down the names of those who will die in the next 12 months as her psychic relative sees and hears them. “Some days it did seem little unfair that all of the wonder and power that surrounded her family was passed to Blue in the form of paperwork” (page 12). Blue has also been told that if she kisses her true love, he will die. As a sensible, practical girl who hasn’t really needed to be disciplined by a single mother who didn’t believe in disciplining children anyway, this prophecy hasn’t really been a problem for Blue’s first 16 years. But then, on the St. Mark’s Eve that opens the story, Blue sees and hears something for the first time—a hazy vision of a boy called Gansey; and she’s told that she saw this either because he’s her true love or because she’s going to kill him. She’s independent, creative, kind, and also somewhat sassy. I liked her a lot. It’s priceless when she and Gansey first meet under ordinary circumstances--not realizing they’d shared that previous supernatural encounter--at the pizza parlor where Blue sometimes works. Blue thinks of Gansey as “President Cell Phone” and huffily declares that she is “not a prostitute” when he asks her to spare a moment for his shy friend, Adam, and offers to pay for Blue’s time if it interferes with her waitressing. Gansey--Richard “Dick” Gansey III (“Family name…I try my best to ignore it,” he says [page 44])--is a trust fund kid who attends the Aglionby private school for privileged boys; is obsessed with finding the relocated grave of Owen Glendower, a medieval Welsh noble with an Arthurlike legend, via a series of ley lines; and nearly died once due to an allergy to bee and wasp stings. He heard a voice telling him he’d been spared while someone else died in order to fulfill his Glendower quest. Despite the advantages that money has given him, Gansey isn’t a brat. He has friends he’s made it his mission to help; and I found him very likeable and sympathetic, a truly good person. Gansey’s closest friends, Ronan and Adam, have their own unique qualities; and I liked both of them, as well. I had several moments of gasping “Oh, no!” for both of them. Ronan found his father beaten to death in the driveway. His mother had a breakdown. Now Ronan goes angrily and self-destructively through life, bossed around by his older brother (Declan) while Gansey tries to keep Ronan from going off the deep end. “Gansey had once told Adam that he was afraid most people didn’t know how to handle Ronan. What he meant by this was that he was worried that one day someone would fall on Ronan and cut themselves” (page 38). Despite Ronan’s anger, Stiefvater makes the pain and vulnerability beneath it clear and makes Ronan relatable. Adam lives in a trailer with an abusive father and codependent mother while he works to supplement a partial scholarship to Aglionby. Proud, self-contained and very intelligent, Adam has plans to live on his own terms, even while pulled into Gansey’s orbit. He tolerates Gansey’s obsession with the Glendower quest but becomes increasingly drawn into it, especially once Blue becomes part of the group. He’s very cute with Blue, and I found their fledgling relationship--hindered by Blue’s prophecy--bittersweet. If Blue and Gansey do end up together, I fear how much hurt (and what else) that will mean for Adam. There’s a sequence involving Adam’s final straw in terms of his relationship with his parents that I found very emotional and well-done. Afterward, Gansey takes care of the medical bills and picks Adam up at the hospital; but it turns into an argument. It gets to me not only because of the sentiments involved, but because I’m also the type of person whose vocabulary has caused trouble in my dealings with people, even if I’m not rich. “’…is there something about my place that’s too repugnant for you to imagine living there…?’ [said Gansey] “’God, I’m sick of your condescension, Gansey,’ Adam said. ‘Don’t try to make me feel stupid. Who whips out repugnant…?’ “’This is the way I talk. I’m sorry your father never taught you the meaning of repugnant. He was too busy smashing your head against the wall….’” (page 350) Then there’s Noah, the other member of the group, who seems to be shy and anxious if not possibly suffering from some form of autism spectrum disorder--but who turns out to be…dead. Not a zombie. Not a vampire. Physically present, yet…not always. On page 47, he shakes hands with Declan’s girlfriend du jour, who comments on his cold hands; and Noah says, “I’ve been dead for seven years. That’s as warm as they get.” But no one--including me--took it seriously. But then they find a body in the woods with a driver’s license identifying him as Noah and find out it’s true. Noah was murdered by his so-called friend the same time Gansey nearly died of wasp stings, yet he’s been ‘living’ with Gansey & co. for the last year and a half. I only wish that Barrington Whelk--Aglionby Latin teacher, fellow ley line obsessive, and murderer--and Neeve--Blue’s aunt, a psychic who has her own TV show, website, and 4 published books to her credit--were developed in more detail, given their ultimate significance to the plot. And I wonder if I was supposed to find the sequence in which Neeve takes Whelk captive darkly funny, because I did. Hopefully, we’ll see Neeve again. So, anyway, things barrel along to a head-spinning conclusion that left several questions unanswered and me itching to get my hands on the next book in the series. What really happened with Adam and the ley line? Where did Neeve go? How can Noah reappear, seeming more solid than before, after the kids relocate his bones to the ruined church? How did Ronan take a live baby raven from his dreams? Will any of the visions the kids had about their fates come true? Who is Blue’s father and how does he fit into the mysteries? The author definitely leaves me craving more!...more
**spoiler alert** A fiviest of a five-star rating. This book is gorgeous, and it's my favourite of Maggie Stiefvater's works (so far). It's the kind o**spoiler alert** A fiviest of a five-star rating. This book is gorgeous, and it's my favourite of Maggie Stiefvater's works (so far). It's the kind of book I almost want to re-read immediately after finishing, despite my huge stack of other books. It's a disservice to the quality of this book to categorise it as (merely) "young adult." It is simply a good piece of literature. The story and the writing are beautifully bittersweet, full of the vivid detail and wonderful turns of phrase I've come to expect from the author. It satisfied my mind and went straight to my heart and gut. The book has the wonderful mix of tragedy, humour, rollicking joy, and danger that I feel is the signature flavour of all things Celtic. And the author struck the same chord in me that she talks about in the transcription of the speech she made when accepting an award for the book--she wants the world of a book to feel utterly believable. The island of Thisby felt so real to me despite the presence of carnivorous horses that come from the sea. It reminded me of the Canadian province my mother comes from and seemed like places I've seen on travel shows that I'd love to visit. Sean Kendrick and Kate "Puck" Connolly are so likeable and relatable, and their romance is so beautifully and subtly depicted. (I especially liked the scene in which Sean is looking for Puck, feeling that he's practically shouting his feelings every time he touches someone's arm and asks if s/he has seen her, and the scene in which Sean gives Puck ribbon bracelets for luck and kisses the inside of her wrist.) These are people accustomed to moving in small circles, accustomed to shielding their softer emotions from view; they are people who do what they feel they must whether others approve or not. Puck's little brother, Finn, is charming in a quirky and mysterious way, with a touch of the faerie about him. I really enjoyed Puck's and Finn's scenes together. I spent much of the book wanting to punch older brother Gabe for wanting to leave his siblings behind and for not keeping them informed of important matters; but it turns out that he is not as hardhearted as I thought, and I had to admit I could understand some of his feelings and decisions. Benjamin Malvern, the Connolly's landlord and Sean's boss, is mostly a jerk in that way that rich and powerful men have; and I always wonder why such men allow their children to behave so badly and act as if there is nothing they could have done about it. Malvern doesn't have any miraculous turnaround, and that's realistic; it's just a matter of Sean and Puck finding ways to deal with him according to the established rules. The resolution of the plot is wonderful; it's a beautiful fairy tale ending in a way but feels absolutely right. ...more
Plenty of Stiefvater’s trademark quirky dialogue. Good twists on Celtic lore. I liked it, and I intend to read the other books--mainly to find out whaPlenty of Stiefvater’s trademark quirky dialogue. Good twists on Celtic lore. I liked it, and I intend to read the other books--mainly to find out what happens to James. But I liked The Wolves of Mercy Falls more. The rest of my comments aren’t going to be a review so much as notes about the impressions the book stirred up inside me. I didn’t read books like this when I was 16, and I wonder what my 16-year-old self would’ve thought about it. Would I have liked Luke more then? Because the current me likes James--wonderful, quirky, witty, sarcastic, loyal James--a lot more than I like Luke. (I don't dislike Luke, but I just don't find him ultimate boyfriend material.) When I read books with love triangles involving the girl’s male friend vs. the love interest, I usually root for the friend, or I at least like him more. Is it because, as an adult, I ended up falling for a male friend, only to watch him marry someone else? But I remember writing a story when I was maybe 17 or 18 about a friendship turning into a romance. There’s something to be said for the friendship aspect of a romantic relationship. This book also stirred up memories of what it’s like to really be in love for the first time, too, though. And one of the characters shares a name with a former best friend of mine, who dated and dumped the guy who ended up being my first real boyfriend. And this book also makes me think of hearing Malachy McCourt reciting at a writers' conference, in his enchanting Irish lilt, Yeats' "The Stolen Child": “...Come away, O human child! To the waters and the wild With a faery, hand in hand, For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand....” Celtic/Irish lore has such a melancholy element to it, but even as it troubles me, it ensnares me…....more