There is something absolutely poetic about Maggie Stiefvater’s writing in Lament. Or perhaps poetic is not the right word here, given one of the subjects of the book – Lament is like music, beautiful music that envelops you and takes you somewhere else for as long as it continues to play. Sweetness, pain, determination, humour – all are presented with the skill and talent of a gifted musician playing from the heart. The prose can be lyrical, but is never purple, and each word is chosen carefully and adds to each scene and the characters within it.
It is always a pleasure to find a novel that shows actual research and knowledge into myth and legend that they build their stories around, as it shows great care and effort has been made to ‘get things right’ and also in developing it so that it fits in with the modern world. It takes a great amount of skill to weave traditional tales and elements into a story set in the modern world, and Stiefvater manages to do that spectacularly. I found it was particularly refreshing (not to mention just what I was looking for) to have a modern faerie story that was not in the extreme, gritty, urban style that seems to be the popular trend at the moment. Surburban faeries/fantasy, perhaps?
The use of music was also well done, and even though the songs were for the most part words, they were still very beautiful indeed. I could definitely imagine myself listening to them and getting caught up in music and the words.
But no matter how strong and well-done the setting is, a story is only as good as its characters. Deirdre is someone I related to very easily, suffering problems with crippling shyness myself (although at least I do not suffer from vomiting as a side-effect) and although she does not have the confidence or the physical butt-kicking that seems to be required of heroines these days, she is smart and savvy enough to definitely be an effective protagonist. Even when the situation is dark and dire, she still manages to find some trace of strength and pulls out more that is hidden between the surface. James could easily have fallen into the trap of being “just the best friend/sidekick”, but he is well-fleshed out and has an important role to play (plus enough awesome foreshadowing that makes me excited for Ballad), just as Luke is more than just dangerous temptation, with a carefully plotted history and storyline of his own that fascinated me to no end. And as for villains and other characters… plenty of those, too, and all crafted with the same care.
Lament: The Faerie Queen’s Deception is definitely a keeper and a good addition for anyone who loves faerie stories, as well as a good choice for anyone wanting to enter the world of modern faerie fiction. The sequel, Ballad is out very soon indeed. I know I can’t wait.