Monday, January 9, 2012


The Faerie Ring - Kiki Hamilton
Genre: Young Adult historical fantasy
# of pages: 363 (ARC)
Publisher: Tor Teen (Macmillan)
The Faerie Ring @ Parental Book Reviews
Recommended for: All Ages

In an effort to crack down on in depth-but-rambling reviews, I'm going to structure this by pros & cons

Premise: The Faerie Ring has a lot of positive qualities. For one thing, Tor Teen knows how to write a synopsis that draws in a reader: "Prince, pauper, thief...all must work together to secure the treaty..." As soon as I read this last sentence, I was hooked. I had to get my hands on this book. And the premise was very interesting. I'm sure we've all read faerie books before, but I can't name another one off the top of my head that takes place in Victorian London and attempts to create a shaky relationship between the British crown and the faerie courts. I would say that the story's setup was rather original (no modern-day teenage girl finding out she's a faerie princess, in other words). In fact, the whole setup was very promising and I was resolved, no matter what, to see this story through to the end. More on this later.

Readability: In addition to a genuinely interesting plot, The Faerie Ring has what I'd call a good readability factor. It's the kind of book that I can easily recommend to a wide variety of readers: middle school and high school alike, as well as adults. For me, that is a huge deal and a big plus in this novel's favor. I like books with zero content, and not because I'm a rigid prude or anything like that, but it is always good to have books that I can easily recommend. And it's not just a content issue: The Faerie Ring had enough action and suspense and very little romance that I think boys and action/adventure-preferring girls will be able to enjoy this novel as well

Plot issues: The more I delved in to this, the more convoluted and "messy" the plot became. About 100 pages from the end, I had no idea who had this dadgum ring that everybody's chasing around, and I didn't really care, either. I just wanted it to end.
That's rarely a good thing for a reader to say: "I just wanted it all to be over." And yet that's how I felt. It's hard to describe without going into spoilery details, but it seemed like the characters - heroine Tiki in particular - just started taking 1 chapter to do something that she could've done in 1 page's worth of time.

Believability: But the main thing about the plot had to do with believability. I just couldn't totally climb on board with a lot of things that happened in this novel because they seemed so far-fetched.
Tiki is a barrister's daughter who knows how to read (at a high reading level, I might add) and dance and is skilled in etiquette, yet through totally random circumstances she finds herself a street urchin pick-pocketing with a family of other orphans to make ends meet. I never felt enough desperation for her circumstances. They always made stole just enough money, had just enough food...they seemed like a very functional family. I argue that among street urchins in Victorian London, 'functional' might not be desired result. At one point, the orphans find a dress so that Tiki can 'go undercover' (for lack of a better phrase) at a royal ball held at Buckingham Palace. With a bath, a cute hairdo, and a dress that's been hemmed just right, Tiki manages to fool everybody (including two princes) into thinking she's part of the landed gentry. Um, really...?
So much of this 300+ page novel just seemed like a stretch to believe. Everything was a little too easy, a little too convenient.
And while I wasn't moved by the love story element, there wasn't really wrong with it, either. Same old scenario: girl holds the guy at arms length and basically acts crabby until 2/3 of the way in, then decides she's in love and has been all along! Okay, I guess. It's better than having a content issue.

But that's me. I've lost count of how many books I've read since August 2008 when all this started. I feel like I've read it all before, and as a result, it takes way more to make an impression on me. So would I recommend The Faerie Ring?
Absolutely. There's nothing particularly wrong with it - it just didn't hold my attention.
But I'm older, I'm pickier, and I'm just ADD-enough that unless there genuinely well-written dialogue, or a fight scene involving a sword, or SWEET romance (not inappropriate and not clean-but-crabby) or talking mice...I get distracted.

Although The Faerie Ring didn't end up holding my attention for a number of reasons, I'm almost positive that you won't be as picky or easily-distracted as I am, so give it a go. It's a quick read that is fairly original and good enough for all 11+ages.

3 shout-outs!:

Vicki said...

I know EXACTLY how you feel about reading it all before...

Anyway...I haven't read this one but it is on my wishlist. it's set in Victorian London so that's enough of a reason for me :D

Natalie said...

"I've lost count of how many books I've read since August 2008 when all this started. I feel like I've read it all before, and as a result, it takes way more to make an impression on me."

Like Vicki said above, I know exactly what you mean by this. I feel like I've gotten more and more picky since I first started book blogging, but I guess when you're reading the amount that we are, it's hard not to be!

Laura BurgandyIce said...

Great review... loved the comment on the dadgum ring!!! hahahaha

I found your blog following Twitter comments... a first for me. Looks so fun!! I'm happy to follow!!! :-)

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