I knew that I was going to like Ballad. I hoped I was going to like Ballad. I was worried about being disappointed by Ballad because it was the second book in a series by Maggie Stiefvater. Linger, her second book after the brilliant Shiver, left such deep scars of disappointment that it took a book like Insurgent to make me trust that second books could be wonderful.
The first few chapters felt jumpy and a bit disjointed, especially when a third narrative was woven into the story. I almost put the book away on the bookcase, but then I remembered that I’d felt the same way about Lament at the beginning and I kept reading.
I am so glad that I did!
Ballad is the story of James, the dependable friend and sidekick of Lament’s heroine who stands by her side and helps out, loving her completely even when she falls in love with the Faerie who has been sent to kill her. By the end of Lament, James comes to understand that Dee will never feel the same way about him that he does about her.
Ballad opens with a strange, unsent text message as Dee’s narrative, then jumps into the story from James’ point of view. He is studying at the Thornking-Ash School of Music on a special scholarship, but soon discovers that he is surrounded by more faeries than ever before, especially one who seems almost human. Will he lose his heart… or lose his life?
Once you get past the slow pace of the first few chapters, the story develops into something so captivating and satisfying that you are loathe to put the book down for mundane things such as eating and sleeping. The book and its amazing characters race towards one of the most satisfying conclusions I’ve enjoyed in a book in recent memory.
KUDOS to author Maggie Stiefvater for this brilliant and enjoyable tale. I adored how this second book made the series stronger instead of weaker. The ending was unexpected, touching and terrific!
Paperback format, 388 pages, Copyright 2009, Scholastic Canada Edition (2012)