Karlie's Reviews > Ballad: A Gathering of Faerie

Ballad by Maggie Stiefvater
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's review
Feb 22, 2012

really liked it

I really enjoyed this book. It was a good, well thought out, rich read. It was more of a 'Becoming absorbed in a world' kind of book than a whirlwind, but that didn't affect my enjoyment of it, it just meant that I could take my time reading it.

I really enjoyed the character of James, from his arrogance and attitude problems to his deep loyalty and emotional depth. Everything about him was great, he was such a three dimensional character, with flaws and issues. And then on top of this he is constantly entertaining with one liners that make you wish you were taking notes. One of my favourite qualities in a novel is witty dialogue. Especially if it is sharp and occasionally quite cutting. God bless sarcasm. : )

I liked the pace of his feelings for Nuala, the shift from distrust to true affection was gradual and well done. This is impressive when you take into account that the author had to juggle him being in love with his old childhood friend at the same time. In the hands of a less accomplished writer this could have been a disaster, causing many people to lose sympathy with James. Throughout this book you can feel his confusion and heartache, and it doesn't feel unrealistic or out of character. I like the extra insight you get of him via his habit of writing notes on his hands. It was a great way to communicate that the main character was suffering anxiety and yet still kept up his great show of confidence and egotism.

The character of Nuala was brilliant. The best aspect of her in my opinion was the fact that she is basically a materialisation of all of James' desires and yet through this she realises that what he desires matches how she truly feels deep down. This is the one of my favourite metaphors for a healthy, loving relationship that I have come across in a while. Real love is the type that brings out the best in you and allows you to truly be yourself. Nuala was sharp, firm, beautiful and slightly kick ass. They make quite a brilliant couple The Muse and The Piper. The descriptions of how she suffers because she needs to absorb artist's years of life is wonderfully written. The fact that she can't face taking any of James' years results in her weakening and an increase in sympathy from the reader. The way her character develops because of James' influence, even though he isn't overly soft or emotional is great to read. He isn't quite comfortable expressing his feelings and yet just being around him with his sarcasm and feigned carelessness is enough to make her a better person. That alone is enough to make this a relationship worth reading about.

I also thought that communicating Dee's feelings in this novel via unsent text messages was a very clever method indeed when the character doesn't get a point of view in the story. It allowed the reader to see some of the tale from her perspective and explain her actions, and yet didn't take up much page time or alter the feel of the book. That was an impressive addition. I actually felt quite sorry for Dee in this story, she managed to lose everything, and by not truly appreciating James when he was there, she almost lost him too. Losing James, now that would be a justified reason to be heart broken. *nods wisely*

The whole plot to this novel felt very tight and well edited. The characters progression felt natural and well explained. The revelations throughout were written well and allowed the book to unfold, moving towards an ending that you can feel approach, as you are counting along with the characters. This is book that I would enjoy to read again. Another great book by Maggie Stiefvater.

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