I'm not sorry. Like Donna Martin*, I'm glad that I waited. This book kicked me right out -- actually, not just out, but all the way to the other end of the Official Reading Scale™ into OH MY GOD ALL I WANT TO DO IS READ EVERYTHING IN SIGHT mode --of my slump.
I loved Lament. It felt new and the characters were psychologically complex (you know, like actual people**) as well as being likable and Maggie Stiefvater's version of the Fey was terrifying and dark and fascinating in that way where you know that if faced with Them, you KNOW you should walk away (if they let you), but you aren't sure if you'd actually be able to make your feet move.
Yeah. I loved Lament.
Ballad blew it right out of the water.
James and Deirdre are now at the Thornking-Ash School of Music. Less than two weeks in, James, a bagpipe prodigy, isn't really sure why the school wanted him -- or why he decided to enroll*** -- as there's no instructor at the school (or, for that matter, in the state) who is a better piper than him. But, as it turns out, sometimes there are worse things about being the best than a lack of teachers. Sometimes, that special spark can attract unwanted attention.
Balladhas: An adjustment to dorm life and to a private school***. Unrequited love and a possibly ruined best-friendship. Quiet agony, the desire for oblivion, foolish hope, expected betrayal. A self-absorbed, brilliant, sarcastic and utterly lovable hero. An unexpected heroine. A side character who I hope will have his own book at some point. Multiple murders. One-way telepathy that was surprisingly touching and sweet. The king of the dead. A swoony romance between two equals that I desperately hoped would end happily. Lovely imagery. The end of the world.
If you like stories about the dark side of Faerie, I cannot recommend this series highly enough. Read it, read it, read it. Now, now, now.
*Sorry. I have 90210 on the brain. I'm halfway through Season Four right now, and WHY THE HELL DOES DONNA PUT UP WITH DAVID? He is the tooliest tool in the toolshed. And I hate his I LOVE CRYSTAL METH hat.
**Not like the literary equivalent of those plywood thingies at fairs with the face holes that you run into in some OTHER books.
***Well, if he was being honest with himself, he'd be able to answer that second question.
****That actually doesn't take all that long -- by day 11, James puts it: "It was funny--I'd really thought in the back of my head that a school filled with music geeks would be different from a regular high school, but really the only thing that was different was that we played out our roles according to where we sat in the orchestra. Brass players: jerks. Woodwinds: snobby cliques. Strings: overachievers with their hands up all the time. Percussion: class clowns."
Book source: My local library.
Amazon Associate: If you click through and buy something, I get a small commission.