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Books of Faerie #2

Ballad: A Gathering of Faerie

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In this mesmerizing sequel to Lament: The Faerie Queen's Deception, music prodigy James Morgan and his best friend, Deirdre, join a private conservatory for musicians. James' musical talent attracts Nuala, a soul-snatching faerie muse who fosters and feeds on the creative energies of exceptional humans until they die. Composing beautiful music together unexpectedly leads to mutual admiration and love. Haunted by fiery visions of death, James realizes that Deirdre and Nuala are being hunted by the Fey and plunges into a soul-scorching battle with the Queen of the Fey to save their lives.

352 pages, Paperback

First published October 1, 2009

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About the author

Maggie Stiefvater

88 books168k followers
New York Times bestselling author of The Shiver Trilogy, The Raven Cycle, and The Scorpio Races. Artist. Driver of things with wheels. Avid reader.

Maggie Stiefvater plays several musical instruments (most infamously, the bagpipes) and makes art in several media (most generally, colored pencils).

She lives in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia with her husband, their two children, many dogs, a bunch of fainting goats, and a mating pair of growly tuner cars.

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5,112 (28%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,533 reviews
Profile Image for Monica.
Author 4 books268 followers
November 25, 2017
Libros poco conocidos pero que valen mucho la pena, aquí el protagonista ahora es el amigo de la otra chica de Lamento, y su acercamiento con el enigmático mundo de las hadas fue un boom, me gustó un poco más que el otro, quizá por que el chico no tenía un pensamiento tan bobo y actuaba con más cordura (la que un joven de 16 puede tener claro)
Que mezclen la música clásica, hadas, misterios y una historia de amor, funciona perfecto para mi.
Profile Image for Krystle.
894 reviews337 followers
March 13, 2010
Ballad is the sequel to Lament, which I reviewed earlier. It’s got a bit of everything; romance, devious faeries, magic, and teen drama.

Maggie Stiefvater’s writing is much the same as in the previous book; pretty descriptions and a definite knowledge of mythology. There were a whole lot of new characters too and I just did not connect to any of them. Nuala while intriguing on her own with a spitfire personality, inner turmoil, and her own conflict with the fey, just did not grab me.

Seeing as how this book was from James’s pov, I was a bit disappointed we didn’t have Deidre front and center. Instead, she was barely visible and hardly appeared, not to mention she was a pretty soft, weak, and weepy character compared to her older herself which had a touch more spine than this one did. The romance and attraction between James and Nuala never clicked with me, and I was hoping they’d just both find someone else or off themselves.

The pacing of the book was pretty slow compared to Lament and things didn’t pick up until about the halfway mark. When you near the ending there’s this thought of: “Oh man, this is just going to be exactly the same as the first book” but then there’s a slight twist that doesn’t really make you think twice about anything.

Eh. The cover is pretty-ish though!
Profile Image for kari.
848 reviews
June 2, 2010
Wow, really didn't care for this one and I'm disappointed.
I was hoping this sequel was a continuation of Deirdre's story but this one is all about James and Nuala, a muse faerie who sucks the life from her sexual partners to live. Yeah, nice, huh?
James doesn't like her, isn't interested in what she has to offer until suddenly, for no apparent reason, other than it would seem he wants to make Dee unhappy, he is interested. Even though James has told Nuala he isn't interested and to leave him alone, she doesn't do that. Instead she sends him dreams that bother him and constantly tries to convince him to do what she wants.
The story is told in the voices of James and Nuala with the occasional unsent text message from Dee, giving some small clues, very small, to what's happening with her. I was interested in Dee and, to a lesser degree, James, and Nuala, not at all. She wasn't a character that I liked, wanted to know more about, or wanted her to have a happily ever after.
Why should Nuala get to have a human life when Luke wasn't allowed to do so? She is an assassin just as much and no better than Luke. That really bothers me. Luke was at least forced to be the queen's gallowglass. Nuala just was who she was, not feeling any guilt or trouble by doing what she did as Luke did. I don't care for Nuala, didn't like her attitude toward Dee or James. Did she really care for him or just want to rub Dee's nose in it which was how it seemed to me.
The one thing I did enjoy was James' voice. He's wonderfully sarcastic and funny and I think he deserves better that Nuala.
Can't recommend this one.

This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for oliviasbooks.
774 reviews515 followers
July 4, 2017
*** On re-reading it in 2017 ***: I still liked it, but I don't need to read it a third time.
*** Read first and reviewed in December 2010 ***
4 stars!! I am quite overwelmed by how much I liked Ballad, since after reading Lament I expected a sequel that would also barely make it into the "It-was-enjoyable-but-didn't-touch-me" category. In most cases sequels even take a slight - or not so slight - drop for me. Surprisingly Ballad turned out to be what I wished Lament had been: A beautiful but eerie story in which humans meet dangerous, but alluring and likable faeries. Both worlds are shaken up. Both main characters change because of the encounter. James was the character I liked best in Lament, anyway. And his story told in turns with faerie muse Nuala tucked at my heart strings in a way Deidre's narration would not and could not. (Oh, how I wished for a miracle in the end! A sure sign of success of the author's efforts to engage the reader.) I was so very afraid of Nuala hurting James in the beginning, but after a few chapters she started to grow on me, which is how it should be in my opinion. Ballad, which was featuring Deidre, too, in the form of unsent text messages, confirmed my slight dislike of "the cloverhand" and opened my eyes to why Lament and I could not and did not really click. A short comment on the cover: It fits "like a fist on an eye" as we would say in German.

P.S.: I am sorry, Jessi, for stowing Ballad away on my keepers shelf after having set up your hope. Borrowing is certainly possible ;-).
Profile Image for Tara.
228 reviews14 followers
November 26, 2009
Dear Maggie Stiefvater,

You torture me.
I love your writing, I love your ideas, I love your books. I DO NOT love the way you leave me hanging. I get that you have your Mercy Falls books to finish, though I think that Shiver ended fine, and I am certainly excited about those. . . BUT I NEED RESOLUTION TO THIS STORY! There is just so much story in Lament/Ballad that needs to be told, so many questions that need answering.

Just in case you haven't heard this from thousands of other readers, let me give you a brief list of mysteries that I need solved: Where has Luke been and why was he AWOL when all this almost-kill-Dee stuff went down? What are the details of Dee's experiences in Ballad, because it seems she went through some freaky-deeky stuff. What is Sullivan's story? And Paul's, since he kind of saved the day. Will Dee always be the most powerful cloverhand? Will she ever be HAPPY again?

These answers are kind of important to me. I would really, REALLY appreciate you dropping what you're doing RIGHT NOW and write another follow-up book. The third of the trilogy, if you will.

Best regards,
Profile Image for Kristi.
1,188 reviews2,892 followers
October 12, 2009
Three words; addictive, magical, & wicked.

I've been eagerly awaiting this novel since the last pages of Lament. Eagerly awaiting to fulfill my craving of James, I mean! Ballad, although could be considered a sequel to Lament, is more of a companion novel. Let me just say that Ballad finally (finally!) satisfies that insatiable hunger for James, after that enticing, all to short, glimpse during Lament. And can I say, that I only love him more. His witty retorts, his one line smart ass comments, his idiotic t-shirts.... they only add to his charm.

Ballad is a completely different story than it's predecessor. And I don't mean that in a negative way, but it's apparent from page one, that James' story is deep. He is so much more than his humorous exterior, it's heartbreaking. The beautiful complexity of his character is unbelievable. I was in awe of that alone.

However, I cannot fail to mention the extremely talented Maggie Steifvater. I can't explain her writing. It's addictive, it almost has it's own melody, the chorus from a song that gets stuck in your head. It is absolutely beautiful, which is a completely simplistic depiction, yet there is no other word for it. It. Is. Beautiful! And the thing is, the writing for this series feels totally different than it does for Shiver. (Another one of Maggie's novels) And Shiver is beautifully written as well, but it's a different kind of beauty, am I the only one that feels this way? Maybe I'm crazy.

The story was fantastic. It alternates between James and Nuala. There are a few texts from Dee thrown in there (which I thought were crucial to the plot), but really she's sort of background music in this novel. It was fast paced, but never felt rushed. Twists and turns that I never saw coming. Entertaining as well as enjoyable.

And I'm just going to stop right there, because I could keep going, but I'm not one for a long review, and this is like the longest in my history. Needless to say, I love this series. And I loved Ballad even more. I knew there would be great things to come when I read Lament. I'm so very glad to see it a reality.
Profile Image for Heather.
170 reviews5 followers
October 8, 2009
Maggie Stiefvater ranks as one of my best newly discovered authors of 2009 (right up there with Patrick Ness). And it's saying something, for me, that I read two books about faeries -- never my favorite topic, especially after my Melissa Marr experience gone bad -- just to read more of her stuff, even though Lament, and Ballad are not, in some ways, as tightly written as Shiver, my hands-down favorite of hers.

But Ballad still contains her lyric prose, and better yet, a truly unique narrative voice. If you liked James in Lament, Ballad is a tribute to him. And his sarcastic, sometimes crude, commentary is a strange juxtaposition to the dreamy, bittersweet descriptions she peppered throughout Lament, and in Ballad to a lesser degree. But he works. Even if he's chasing after a killer-muse (wha??), which was only slightly less weird to me than all the harp-playing Dee did in Lament, he still works. From his commentary t-shirts to his compulsive writing-on-skin habit, this guy is someone you enjoy hearing from. Her narrative claims that he's unique, super-talented and unusually intelligent never struck me as swagger, because his own voice supports the claims.

I've heard criticism about this novel on a number of points -- Nuala's not likeable, Dee and James interact too woodenly, where the heck is Luke (spoiler alert: he makes no appearances), etc -- but I'd argue against them all. Although the plot dragged a bit in the first 100 or so pages, there's no question that Stiefvater's character interactions are planned and deliberate. In Ballad we see Dee and James coping with the trauma they experienced in Lament, and the silences and gaps develop into a telling display of just how broken the two of them have been by these events. Luke's profound absence means he's never far from your mind, and all the unanswered questions have me wondering if he'll show up in book 3. Readers are constantly directed to James' ugly scar, but much more subtly, we hear him talk about the accident and his attempts to reconcile Dee's sacrifice with the arms' length she now puts between them.

I'll agree that Nuala was, in some ways, underdeveloped. She was so similar to James that her voice was not as distinctly apart from him as some may have preferred, and I could have done with hearing a little more from her. And it was troubling to think that the strongest female character in this novel claimed she was created to be so based on what James desired. Feminism takes a small step back . . . nevertheless, Stiefvater is always about the individual making the right choice, even when it's the hardest, and in Ballad Nuala shows a fair amount of pluck and verve. In another author's hands, I'd have hated her. In Stiefvater's, she grew on me.
Profile Image for Lisa.
257 reviews169 followers
September 1, 2011
Originally posted at Read Me Bookmark Me Love Me

Ballad exceeded my expectations and managed to surprise me at every turn. No longer are we focused on Dee, but on her best friend James. When he begins attending Thornking-Ash, a school for the gifted and talented, he finds himself mystified by a faerie named Nuala who just can't seem to leave him alone, and not for evil reasons either. Soon, James finds himself torn between right and wrong, friendship and love, and life and death.

I was pleasantly surprised when Ballad broke away from Dee's narration and was told in the point of view of James. His narration was strong and enjoyable to read, a vast difference to Dee's weaker and more feminine voice. I felt that the action increased ten-fold and the novel itself moved at a fast pace, whilst still effectively developing the characters and entangling us in a variety of story lines.

Dee is largely absent in this book and makes only a few appearances at crucial moments, although the book is littered with unsent text messages from her to James. While she slowly withers away inside, due to prior events, a fire is kindling between James and Nuala, a faerie who feeds on the energies of others to survive. After a certain amount of years, she must burn alive, to be reborn without her memories. This is her last year. I found the jump between couples (Dee and Luke in Lament) to be very easy and honestly preferred this relationship a lot more. The feelings were more realistic, the romance less filled with mind games, and the stakes much higher. I quickly became emotionally invested in their journey together and found the ending to be very suitable.

The only negative about this book is Dee. After the first two meetings she had with James, I grew tired of her damsel-in-distress-I'm-so-sad attitude. Never getting over Luke, who was taken in by the faeries, she's a little unstable and a constant pain in everyone's behind. Thank goodness we didn't have to deal with her a lot! I had expected Ballad to be a continuation of Dee's story, so the complete lack of development and conclusion of her character was underwhelming.

Another great novel by Maggie Stiefvater, this author can do no wrong! Magical and romantic as always, Ballad will leave you wanting more, even after you've turned the last page.
Profile Image for — nova.
442 reviews323 followers
February 24, 2022
“I stared at the stars and wanted more than what I was and more than what the world was and just—wanted.”

why isn’t james real? i want him to be my best friend.

this book focuses on james while also giving you a rare look into life after a young adult fantasy novel ends less than happily ever after. which is interesting and also really fucking mopey. but, i mean, if the love of my teen-life had to run off and join the fairies so he wouldn’t die and i couldn’t ever see him again, i’d be pretty mopey, too.

“If it had been Dee, I’d have needed to comfort her or make a joke, but with Nuala, I didn’t have to pretend.”

i love james. i love nuala. i love james & nuala. i also like dee, but - as mentioned - she’s really mopey in this book. i forgive her for it, though. i enjoy this one more the the first book, as much as i liked dee & luke’s relationship, nuala & james’s felt more genuine and less insta-love. james is trying to work through his feelings for his best friend and nuala is trying to not die. all good fun.

honestly, i think this series is worth a shot just for james’s witty one-liners, but i also know this series isn’t for everyone. it’s an interesting spin on the usual fae paranormal young adult romance, but it’s also very... paranormal young adult romance.
Profile Image for Victoria Schwab.
Author 28 books103k followers
October 13, 2009
Stunningly written, and I adored James. My only complaint was that I simply couldn't stand Dee. I vaguely remembered liking her in Lament, and none of that carried over. Because of that, I had a hard time understanding James's continuing love for her, and when I wasn't terribly annoyed by the text messages, she fell flat. That said, every other aspect of this book was WONDERFUL.
Profile Image for Lynn.
1,143 reviews68 followers
December 20, 2011
I think that the more I read by Maggie Stiefvater the more I love her books. I have found so much to appreciate about her writing. This book does not disappoint.

Be forewarned that if you read this book right after Lament you might have unfulfilled expectations. There is very little Dee and what you get of her is a very different side than in the first book. More about that in a sec. Also there is no Luke. This book if from James' perspective and takes off on a different but related direction than the first book. I think this book is more enjoyable if you take a break after reading Lament and read this one later. I enjoyed it so much more because I was prepared for the shift in narrator and focus and not pining for Dee's and Luke's story as much as if I had read this right after Lament. This allowed me to fully appreciate this story and James as a narrator and character.

There are potential mild spoilers after this so read further only if you don't mind those mild spoilers. I won't give away anything really important but some people don't want to read anything so those people beware.

One of the criticisms I had heard about for this book was involving Dee. Some people said she seemed weepy and weak. Others said she seemed like a b!#@h. I don't think that either of those criticisms are fair and here is why. It is pretty clear by the end of the book (and for me throughout the book if you pick up on the clues) that Dee is spiraling down into a deep depression and is not in a good frame of mind. She is not adjusting to the things that happened to her the prior summer. I found this very realistic. No it doesn't bring out the best in Dee, but really we are never in her head to know the depths of what she is going through. We are in James' head and thus we ache with and for him and our sympathies all lie with him. He doesn't see what is truly going on with Dee (her descent into giving up by the end=suicidal) and thus we don't totally see it either. He is understandably and rightfully hurt by the things Dee says and does. He doesn't understand how she can do/say these things nor ever seem to remember that he is hurting too. Again, we suffer with him because we are in his head and hearing everything from his perspective.

The truth is, though, that depressed people don't/can't think outside themselves very well. They are in too much pain and it is hard to see outside that cage. Compound this with the fact that Dee does love/care about James, just not in a way that matches how he loved/felt about her. She doesn't know how to relate to him or be his friend knowing how he feels about her. That is seriously hard territory to cross for a mentally healthy person, much less someone who is struggling and further more a teen. She doesn't want to involve him with the Faeries anymore either. So she takes all this stuff into herself.

I really enjoyed seeing and learning more about James. I like the way Maggie develops him and all the facets to his personality. One of the things I love about Maggie's main characters are all their facets. They seem so much more real than some of the other characters in YA I read. I also love how the male "hero"/love interests are often so different from the typical and overused YA types. You don't get some desperately beautiful bad boy that is magically tamed by the girl into someone who can finally love (but always just the one girl ever after of course). Maggie's guys can be tender/sensitive and poetic ala Sam from Shiver. They can be cocky, quirky, compulsive musicians who also suffer from some insecurities that they try and keep hidden. James is partly rebellious but also partly nerd. I love all of that about him. It made him so much more real and relatable. There is a little of James in myself so I can relate to him especially. The hero/love interests can also be silent, proud, horse whisperers who seem to be part of different species ala Sean form the Scorpio Races. You get the point.

I really hope she finishes the third book in this series. James seems to get his happy ending and Dee is left with only our hope that she can finally start to heal. It would be nice to see things move in a better direction for her and for her to have some sort of closure.
Profile Image for Angie.
645 reviews997 followers
June 15, 2009
And right on the heels of Shiver comes BALLAD--the sequel (perhaps companion novel would be a better term) to Lament. In a shift similar to the one in between Melissa Marr's Wicked Lovely and Ink Exchange, BALLAD switches narrators from Dee to her best friend James Morgan. And James, like Marr's Leslie, is in rather a lot of trouble. The story follows his struggle to recover from narrowly escaping death at the hands of homicidal faeries in order to protect Dee, as well as his stuttering attempts to deal with life after telling his best friend he's in love with her and having her not return the sentiment.

Even though James doesn't care much what happens to himself, he does still care about Dee (almost against his will). And so he follows her to Thornking-Ash Conservatory, enrolling in a school full of gifted musicians guaranteed to annoy the crap out of him, in order to be near her. And despite the fact that he's a piper and they have no program to suit his level of expertise. But Dee barely talks to him. And when she does their brief conversations are hideously awkward, full of meaningless banter and superficial smiles. Meanwhile the faeries are far from finished meddling in James' life. On his way back to school after a spectacularly failed piping lesson, James runs into an unusual faery named Nuala. Unbeknownst to James, Nuala is a faery muse who gifts her chosen humans with unmatched artistic ability only to feed on their souls until they burn up and die. Nuala has been without a human for too long and is intent on claiming James. All she needs is an invitation...

BALLAD is a love letter to James fans. Period. If you liked yon lanky, loquacious lad before you will fall head over heels in love with him in this installment. Witty repartee and quirky t-shirts aside, BALLAD brings us infinitely farther into James' mind than the brief but enticing glimpse we got in Lament. And what's there is richer and more painful than one might expect from his humorous exterior. The sort of deal Nuala offers is the height of temptation for this troubled young man who is obsessed with music and excellence and who is so very alone. BALLAD is a tighter story than its predecessor and that fact was clear from page one. James and the cadre of disciples he gathers round him like a cloak at Thornking-Ash fairly leap off the page at you until all you want in life is to be chummy and sarcastic with them all day long. Nuala is a different story. The chapters alternate between James and Nuala's point of view (with a few text messages from Dee interspersed here and there). And as she gets to know and appreciate James, I came to like her more and more. But Nuala didn't ever quite come into focus for me as much as James did. Of course, he's a hard act to follow. For as he edges closer and closer to completely unravelling, his witty facade gets sharper, more honed, more irresistable. Both to the reader and the psychic vampire obsessed with him. I laughed and gasped and wrung my hands with worry for this boy. And I miss him now that it's over.

BALLAD is due out October 1st.
Profile Image for Sherrie Petersen.
Author 1 book17 followers
June 10, 2010
Nobody writes longing like Maggie Stiefvater. It clings to every page, wraps itself around your heart. Trust me. When you're done reading one of her books, you are ready to make the person laying next to you happy. Very happy.

I read Shiver last fall after Myra McEntire raved about it repeatedly. I was not disappointed. I liked it so much I bought more copies and gave them away for Christmas gifts. I told everyone I knew to read the book. Then hubby brought me Lament as a souvenir from his business trip to Seattle. I devoured that one and immediately went out to buy the sequel, Ballad.

Oh. My. (Fans herself and swoons)

Is it wrong to fall in love with a character who lives only between the covers of a book? I thought I loved Sam when I read Shiver. I thought Luke was amazing in Lament. But James? No one can compare to James. His self-deprecating wit, his intense feelings, his fierce protectiveness -- everything about him made me love him from page one. I didn't put the book down until I was done reading. And then I went back and read certain parts over again.

First of all let me say that one of the things I appreciate about all of Maggie Stiefvater's books is the fact that each one can stand on it's own. She doesn't leave you dangling off the edge of some precipice for ten months while you wait for the gods of publishing to put out the next book. She gives you a complete story. And you know what? You're still eager for the next one to come out. You're just not alternating between loving the story and hating the author for ending it badly. And that's a good thing.

Ballad is a story of love and friendship, dangerous urges and impossible choices. It is a beautifully composed ode to longing, hope, joy and love -- that just happens to include a few homicdal faeries.

Just remember this: when you read it, be prepared to fall in love.
Profile Image for Grüffeline.
1,078 reviews102 followers
April 17, 2018
3,75 Sterne
James' Geschichte... Ich mochte ihn als besten Freund der Hauptfigur lieber als als Hauptfigur, aber er war mir immer noch sympathisch. Nuala... Was ich von ihr halten soll, weiß ich noch nicht genau. Allerdings hoffe ich, dass in Teil 3 Dee wieder die Kurve kriegt, denn in diesem Buch mochte ich sie nicht sonderlich und habe alle Naselang nur gedacht, dass sie doch endlich mit James sprechen soll und diese SMS abschicken soll. Aber ich fand die Geschichte insgesamt spannend und viele alte Charaktere tauchen auch wieder auf. Gut geschrieben war das Buch ebenfalls, aber es ist lange nicht Maggies bestes.
Profile Image for Beth Fred.
Author 12 books95 followers
April 17, 2010
As far as books go as a stand alone this one would have been okay. It's not a page turner like Lament and it's not poetic like Shiver, but still it was a decent story.

My frustration comes in with it being marketed as a sequel to Lament, which ends sadly with James apparently being dead, Luke Dillon's soul being returned but him having to go live with a group of faeries to avoid dieing once his soul is returned. But apparently I seriously misread that last chapter because James is alive and well and Luke is no where to be found. I went out and bought this book in hopes of discovering how Luke and Dee would work out in his new life as an almost fairy. Dee is a minor character in the sequel to her own story. James and a new fairy Nuela are the main characters in Ballad with the occasional unsent text message from Dee. Luke is mentioned a few times in the unsent messages but by the end of the book I wasn't even sure if it was him. I don't feel like this book had much at all to do with the last one except for James mentioning the events of last summer a few times. It's a completely different story with a lot of new characters none of whom appealed to me.

Frankly, I'm disappointed. I give this book a 2 star rating. It's not a bad book but I don't like it being marketed as a sequel. I've been looking forward to Linger for four months now, I hope it's better as far as sequels go.
Profile Image for Tracy74.
42 reviews
January 8, 2010
Wow, I really liked this book. I wasn't sure what to expect at first. I was really hoping it was going to truly continue from where Lament left off and finished the story or at least answer some of my questions..... It did continue, but from James point of view. I really like James in Lament and loved him in Ballad. I got sucked into this story really wanting to find out what happens.
At this point I feel like I'm holding my breath with the anticipation of hearing if there will be more books in this series!! and if so, WHEN!
I would have given this book 5 stars, but I did feel like there were some holes in the story when I really wanted detail, a chapter would end and then pick up right after an event instead of hearing about an event.
I would recommend reading this book!
Profile Image for Jenny.
921 reviews180 followers
June 27, 2018
This was a pretty good sequel! This one is told in James POV, and I actually preferred that a lot to Dee.
Profile Image for Cori Reed.
1,135 reviews379 followers
November 5, 2018
This is probably a 2.5 stars. It definitely feels dates.
Profile Image for Natalia.
254 reviews59 followers
August 28, 2017
That was a pleasant surprised. The first book wasn't that good, so when I randomly saw the second one, I wasn't sure I would read, but I was pleasantly surprised. The thing I liked the most was that Dee wasn't the main character. James is way better. It's not like he is the best main character ever, but he was sort of funny and most importantly he was way more enjoyable than Dee. Dee was so annoying! I liked the idea with the e-mails, but I was really confused in the end. And the story with Luke wasn't really finished. Even though I liked James more, I still think Dee's story needed a little bit more closure.
Profile Image for Kaysi.
113 reviews
June 26, 2011
Now, I was quite excited to see this story was about James. He was a favourite in Lament - and I was just in the mood for some good sarcasm. Oh James, talented, funny, uber-sarcastic and yet, seems to be broken in some way - and this movie showed all those attributes.

I liked this more than Lament I think. I liked things from James' point of view. I did feel sorry for him a little at the end of Lament, knowing he would never get Dee - but also in saying that, at least he was alive.

First thing that struck me with this story was "why are they at that school?". James mentioned in Lamen that this story attracted "freaks"- so why go there? But anyway......

I did like the distance between James and Dee - it showed the awkwardness about the Luke thing. Obviously things were not going to be the same once he told her how he felt. And I liked the way you got snippets on Dee's thoughts through the unread text messages - which also had a purpose in the overall storyline.

Whilst I liked Dee in Lament - as she did what she wanted and wasn't sorry for it, in this book she was weakened. Even though she was mainly in background, she was weak - whingy and completely broken (in a non-intriguing way). I disliked her telling James to kiss her, and then saying that she was thinking about Luke. That, was wrong on any standard... but I guess that was put in there so that we hoped that he wouldn't keep pining after her.

Nuala... she was a pretty good character (loved her interaction with Dee). I quite liked her, but it was obvious she was going to fall for James. I liked her inner turmoil, and the conflict with the other fey. I didn't like a certain scene which showed exactly the relationship between her and the other fey, but I thought that particular scene showed you alot about her personality, and she TRIED to percieved herself - heartless and uncaring, ie, saying she couldn't be crying as she doesn't cry. I also liked how she was the dead kings daughter... nice little twist to it all.

Speaking of him - I loved how he set it up so that she could be saved, while knowing that James could not do it. It showed that there could be a good side to such a creature - which later gave me hope for poor Sullivan (oh, poor Sullivan). How terrible for Naula to think that James chose Dee over her... poor thing probably couldn't wait to die after that - after all, she had never had feelings about anyone/anything before.

My question: If Brandon was there, to tell James to go save Dee etc, where was Luke? And why did Sullivan spill blood and flowers if he was totally human?

Oh, and I liked the Aunty getting what she had coming... finally.

And what is with all faery queens being physco??? The previous one, this one and other stories not related to Maggie.

I didn't think that James would get his happy ending, but I am glad that he did. And I am also glad that Dee didn't get what she wanted in the end. Nothing against her character, but I don't like that "perfect" ever after (ie: she got both guys in the end), its too Bellaesque for my liking.

Whilst this left it open - there is more in store for Sullivan at least, and possibly James (he liked death and Sullivan was coming for him at some stage), I was quite happy where it closed off, without "hanging" for a sequel that we are not sure will ever come. But I will be happy to hear if another one comes out!!!!

Ballad was my favourite out of this and Lament (although I was happy with the non-happy everafter in Lament) but I think that James is made of awesomesauce - so, you know, I was bound to like this one better :)

Both Lament and Ballad showed Maggies knowledge on mythology... she certainly done her fey research. She is an extremely talente writer, as proven with Shiver trilogy. The books had a very lyrical feel all the way through them - but I do ask, what are 16 year olds doing playing the harp and bagpipes?

*update* Upon meeting Maggie, the previous statement regarding the bagpipes is withdrawn. Maggie said in one of her talks that she played the bagpipes when she was younger (this I knew but it's still not common outside of Scotland) and that she has to relate to the character she was writing (her example was Cole, but it still stands). Maggie cannot write a character playing and instrument that she cannot play herself, it does not feel right - this I can understand, and respect.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Nicole.
Author 6 books38 followers
May 24, 2017
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.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for ~Tina~.
1,092 reviews159 followers
November 7, 2009
See, I have this strange thing about me. When I read a book I put myself entirely into it. So when I read the Wicked Lovely books I was fully warped into Keenan/Seth and Ash lives. When I read Ink Exchange however, I felt lost cause it wasn't there story.
When I read Lament, again, I connected with the characters Luke and Dee.
So now comes BALLAD and again, I felt the lost of the characters that I wanted to read about.
This is only because with the Wicked Lovely books and now Lament books - I've read all the books at once. Never having that full year to miss there voices.

With that said James POV in BALLAD was the only thing that dulled the pain of not having Luke's presence.
James and Nuala's story is a twisted one. I wasn't sure what my heart wanted till there's did. I actually really enjoyed the fact that either of them wouldn't take the others bull-sh*t! I like my characters feisty;)

The tender tease of Dee and Luke in the background through out this book made the ache come back as I flipped through the pages.
I knew I was reading Jame's story but couldn't help wanting to know what the hell was going on with Dee's story!!
Quite Brilliant of Maggie to make us want two different things as we struggle along side with James and Nuala!

Dee and James frustrated me to no end. It was like I wanted to just shake them both and scream TALK!!!
How so many things can be fixed when one communicates? But then again, we wouldn't have a compelling story if they did;)

BALLAD was a wonderful addiction to the world of Maggie's Faeries.
It had so many moments of wit, sarcasm and charm. I enjoyed the new voices and James is Hilarious! What a punk!

Another Maggie wonder! I'm addicted to this world and only hope she graces us with more to come! ~whispers~ Luke and Dee:P
Profile Image for Jupiter1.
363 reviews
July 12, 2010
I'm not sure what I was expecting, but this wasn't it. I thought this was a really good book by itself, but it was terrible as a sequel, especially as an ending to a series. I had several problems with this one. I hated the ending, but I did like James as a character (he was quirky enough to be interesting), even Nuala. I thought she was good for him. However, I still skimmed most of it, even with two funny, very likeable main characters. And I hated Dee in this book. She did a complete 180 from the first book. She was whiny, mopey, a cry baby and gave up at the end, all of which doesn't seem like her personality at all. Maybe it would've been easier to believe if we got to see some scenes from her point of view (and no, the text messages in between most of the chapters does not count) but as it was, I just did not understand her motivation, or lack there of. I just felt like this story was missing something, and in the end, it brought the book down. Don't get me wrong, this was still a very good book, and I did like it. However, I'm just going to have to go unreconcilable differences on this one. It was good, but I had too many problems with this one. Which is sad because it really was very good and the first one was amazing. This one unfortunately just doesn't compare.
Profile Image for Sophia Alexis Books.
524 reviews33 followers
April 7, 2020
I'm giving this two stars solely for the last like 30 pages, the rest of the book was just one giant No from me.

My biggest gripe was that this book completely ruined everything that happened in the first one. Like I get that we were supposed to see characters in a different light but this book just completely did a 180 on certain characters.

Also, there was basically no plot until the last 150ish pages.

So yeah I didn't like this book until the very end. Overall, 2 stars
Profile Image for Carla.
291 reviews69 followers
September 28, 2009
After reading the mesmerising Lament, I was eagerly awaiting this book with so much anticipation, that I wondered on more than one occasion, whether the story would live up to my expectations. For those of you who know me, I am a serious Maggie fan girl, heck; I even started a fan forum for her. This does not mean I am biased, it just means that I respect wonderful pieces of literature and give them the praise they are due.

Ballad starts right where Lament left off; James and Dee have enrolled at the prestigious Thornking Ash Music School, and are struggling to deal with the aftermath of the events of the previous summer. However, the story this time is told from James’s perspective, rather than Dee’s. Now, this is what I had been looking forward to, more of James, as I do feel that we didn’t get to see enough of him in Lament.

James's decision to enrol in music school was made with Dee in mind, even though he is a piper and they have no programme in place which will suit his level of expertise. But once he gets there, Dee barely talks to him. Their short conversations are punctuated with awkward silences and forced jokes, fake smiles. Uncomfortable, not the way it was before, before Them. James doesn’t realise things are about to get worse, as They are far from finished destroying James’s life.

Enter Nuala, a faery muse, who feeds on human souls until they die. She chooses humans for their musical abilities, and gifts them with exceptional music. This forms the plot line that danger can be attached to something so brilliant, that excellence can also be a curse rather than a gift. She fills their dreams with agonisingly beautiful images, full of longing and suffering, enough to drive them crazy with wanting. But she has been without a human for too long and the desire she feels for James is too strong, he shines to bright, she has to have him. She is intent on making James hers and all she needs is an invitation. One that James does not want to give, but will he change his mind??

James fans will love this book, as boy is he back with a bang. His snarky, quick on the mark comments had me in fits of laughter. James shines in the book, his personality reaches out and grabs you, keeping you enticed until the very last page. His vulnerability in this book tugged on my heartstrings, longing for a girl who would never love him back, all alone in a sea of people. I felt his pain whenever he was with Dee and to be honest, I didn’t like her as much in this instalment, but I think that was the whole point.

The perspective jumps from James to Nuala throughout the book, punctuated with small snippets of text messages from Dee meant for James. The voices for both of these characters were so distinctive, that I didn’t need to read the top page of the chapters, to see whose story I would be following this time. As Nuala got to know James, I liked her more and more, even though she was a threat to James in one way or another.

Ballad is a more powerful novel than Lament; I got drew into the pages a lot deeper and faster than when I was reading Lament. The characters were more fully formed in this novel and spoke to me in a way that those in Lament did not. My love affair with this book started on the first page, like it was written just for me and me alone. That is how Maggie’s writing makes you feel, like she has selected everything you love about books and shaped them into a novel, wrote just for you. Stunning does not do this book justice.
Profile Image for Angela.
318 reviews55 followers
November 13, 2009
Intriguing follow-up to Lament

After reading Maggie Stiefvater's first novel, Lament: The Faerie Queen's Deception, a few months ago and loving it (as my previous review on it can attest), I waited impatiently for Ballad: A Gathering of Faerie to come out. I dove into it this past weekend, and though I enjoyed it a great deal, it didn't bind me like Lament did.

Ballad picks up a few months after Dee and James barely survive their first harrowing experiences with the world of Faerie. Dee has left home to attend the prestigious music boarding school, Thornking-Ash, and best friend James, who's in love with her, follows. Ballad tells its story through the alternating points of view of James and a dangerous faerie muse called Nuala, who has chosen James as her next conquest. As the best bagpiper in all of Virginia, James finds himself with little to gain at the new school, other than the opportunity to be near Dee, who has entered onto a path of self-destruction.

Ballad is a portrait of James coming to terms with his unique talents, his unrequited love and concern for Dee, his perceived isolation from others, and his growing temptations towards Nuala on multiple fronts. James is a well-drawn character, with quirks, snark, and witticisms that fully embody him. As the book progresses, you become more and more concerned for him and what compromises he may make, even at the risk of his life or soul, to stand out and feel worthy. His narrative counterpart, Nuala, also comes into focus as the story develops, and even though she starts out as a nemesis, the reader learns her weaknesses and becomes sympathetic towards her too. This book differs from Lament's fast pace and immediate draw; instead, the development of James and Nuala as characters, as well as James' mentor and friends, grows at a steady but sure pace.

Like Stiefvater's other novels, this book is very well-written, with smart characters and quick dialogue. The book differs from Lament, though, as it's more of a character study interspersed with events that show us the depths of struggle that James experiences. It's also darker in its descriptions of faeries and the thoughts of the main characters. Though I love sarcasm and wit, James' continual barrage of comments can make one weary at times and I found it unbelievable that any teachers (even the intriguing Mr. Sullivan) would put up with it for very long. There are some weaknesses to the plot, in that the climax doesn't seem too climactic and some of the characters don't show the strong emotional reactions one would expect given what they've experiencing. There are also some plot points that weren't terribly clear, but they didn't detract too much from the reading overall; I hope these will be cleared up or expanded in the books to come in this series.

Overall, a good read but with room for more in what I hope will be multiple coming novels set in this universe. Though this can be read as a standalone novel, I would recommend reading Lament: The Faerie Queen's Deception first to get the backstory on James and Dee, their relationship, and what happened during the past summer. Knowing their history will provide more understanding and empathy with their characters.
Profile Image for Rachel (The Rest Is Still Unwritten).
1,601 reviews203 followers
March 29, 2015
Going into this book i will admit that my expectations were high. Being a fan of Maggie Stiefvater and with Lament being one of my all time faves, i expected a lot from this book. While i was initially hesitant seeing that the story was now focused on James, but i'm happy to say my worries were not needed.
This was an excellent story. The plot itself was lovely and captivating. I love the whole world of Faerie that Maggie has created.
James had a freshness he didn't have in the first book, while still retaining the sarcastic nature and view on life he has that make him such a unique, enjoyable character. I loved being able to see him in a whole new way and i will say my view on him is completely different than the one i had after reading Lament.
I thought Nuala was a wonderful character also, and a fitting match for James. She was feisty, witty and just has filled with sarcasm as he, himself was. I loved that she usually had a retort for the things he said. She certainly knew how to put in him in place at times. Despite their issues with each other in the beginning of the story, they both seemed to find something in each other that others hadn't before. They saw each other in a way that only they could. I think over the course of the story they both really grew as characters and no one can deny that it was because of the other. Nuala connected with James in a way that i think nobody, including Dee ever had before. She seemed to see him for exactly what he was. And it was because of James that Nuala grew into the human like, chip lovin' faerie she became. He showed her all the good things about being human and it was this that lead her to want to become a human herself.
As for Dee...well, i will say i am a tad disappointed with her. Although i understand that she's only human and everyone has their vulnerable moments and makes mistakes, i felt she just kept making bad choice after bad choice in this book. I prefer the character she was in the first book and i hope that she can find the strength to over come the hardships she's facing to be that person once again. I'll defiantly follow her on her journey....

I understood James's choice to save Dee towards the end of this book. Despite the fact that he clearly did love Nuala, and wanted to be with her, he did also love Dee and he had to do what was right. And saving Dee and stopping the evil 'homicidal faeries' was what was right. Still, praise for Paul and his sticking around to be there for Nuala while she burned.
I will say that i am happier with this ending than i was with Lament. There's more promise and hope. I'm glad that Nuala is alive (and human, i think) and that she and James can potentially have a future.

Here's the only real issue i had with Ballard....... I MISSED LUKE!! I really did! I'd love to see he and Dee be the focus in future books and perhaps have their own happy ending in the end.

I loved it and i recommend it!!!!!
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
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