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.

Book Quote of the Week!

Book Quote of the Week

"To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable."

From: The Four Loves
C.S. Lewis
Adult nonfiction (apologetics)

Blog designed by Dreamy Blog Designs using Joifa Designs Birght Night and Cozy kit