January 13, 2012

The Faerie Ring: A Panoramic Review

 
"The year is 1871, and Tiki has been making a home for herself and her family of orphans in a deserted hideaway adjoining Charing Cross Station in central London. Their only means of survival is by picking pockets. One December night, Tiki steals a ring, and sets off a chain of events that could lead to all-out war with the Fey. For the ring belongs to Queen Victoria, and it binds the rulers of England and the realm of Faerie to peace. With the ring missing, a rebel group of faeries hopes to break the treaty with dark magic and blood—Tiki’s blood.

Unbeknownst to Tiki, she is being watched—and protected—by Rieker, a fellow thief who suspects she is involved in the disappearance of the ring. Rieker has secrets of his own, and Tiki is not all that she appears to be. Her very existence haunts Prince Leopold, the Queen’s son, who is driven to know more about the mysterious mark that encircles her wrist.

Prince, pauper, and thief—all must work together to secure the treaty…" (from Goodreads)

 
The Faerie Ring by Kiki Hamilton

My reaction:

Overall, I found The Faerie Ring to be quite entertaining. While the first half is pretty slow and somewhat repetitive — it mostly consists of information-gathering, and various characters (particularly Tiki) making decisions and then changing their minds — the plot and pacing do pick up considerably in the second half. The storyline becomes a good deal more intricate, and some important revelations happen (spoiler, highlight to read: I really liked the twist of Rieker being Wills!


The resolution of the story was too sappy for my taste, unfortunately, with an overly neat ending (although the last few lines were very cute, I have to admit.) The future of Tiki's family of orphans is decided without involvement by Tiki, really, but wholly reliant on another character instead. I would have liked to have seen Tiki actively helping to better their lifestyle herself, rather than depending on someone else's aid. 

Much of the mythology in The Faerie Ring is standard stuff you'll have seen in other faerie YA books — the Seelie and Unseelie Courts, the nix on faerie-human relationships, the lack of empathy on the part of the fey. But the concept of the faerie ring (as it is detailed in this book) is pretty fresh as far as I know, and I'd like to see this fleshed out in the next in the series. I must say I found it strange that Tiki didn't ask more questions (particularly of Rieker) about the faeries and their connection to the British royalty, especially given the events that happen throughout. I suppose this was done to draw out the mystery, but it resulted in Tiki acting on limited information. Had Rieker been a bit more forthcoming or Tiki a bit more inquisitive, she could have made some smarter choices.

Best aspect: the relationship between Tiki and Rieker was really enjoyable. I wanted to shake Tiki for making things difficult for the two of them! Rieker's snarky and teasing personality made him my favourite character. Just generally, actually, most of the characters were well-done. Tiki was a mix of annoying and admirable qualities: stubborn (to a fault), mistrusting of others, determined to believe she knows best, gutsy, incredibly loyal and protective of her "family," and street-tough. Sometimes I wanted to knock some sense into the girl, but I was still rooting for things to work out for her.


Larkin was a particularly interesting, complex character, and I'm very interested to find out more about her as the series goes on. Of all the characters introduced in The Faerie Ring, I think she may well have the most depth and shades of grey exhibited. There was one thing she did, though, that I thought was unbelievable given her apparent intelligence (spoiler: she "hid" Clara back at Tiki's place? How is that hiding?)

If I could change something... it often felt, particularly in the first half, that I was missing information. I don't know if it's the reader who's not privy to the information, or the characters themselves, but it made things frustrating and confusing to try to puzzle out. The reasoning of characters in making some decisions seemed absurd. I think a couple of the later revelations might shed some light on this, but at the time I know I was re-reading sections in an effort to figure out why characters were doing what they were doing.

And I wish Tiki's "siblings" had had more of a role to play in the story. There are several of them, but with the exception of Clara (and hers is a passive, unintentional involvement) none of them really take part in the plot! 


Read if: you like traditional faerie mythology, the streets of Victorian England, and adventure. Fans of The Perilous Gard by Elizabeth Marie Pope and Mairelon the Magician/Magician's Ward by Patricia C. Wrede might enjoy this one.

Quote: 

Satisfied the ring was safely hidden, Tiki swung down from the branch and landed in the thicket. She brushed off her trousers and smiled to herself before turning to gaze back across the lake toward the grand mansion. Though the trees eclipsed part of her view, from this distance she could see the building lit up like Big Ben. Her smile faded as cold fingers wrapped around her heart. She recognized that familiar silhouette.

It was Buckingham Palace.

She recalled the names of the young men in the library. Leo...Prince Leopold? And Prince Arthur? And the older woman...Mother...

Oh, bloody hell. She'd just stolen the queen's ring.

Hopes for the sequel? I think there's potential here, and I'd like to see Tiki mature and the world-building grow stronger. I'm also hoping that the romantic resolution of this book won't result in terribly cheesy dialogue in the next one. The Faerie Ring already had a bit of that towards the end, and I much prefer the "witty banter" type of dialogue to the oh-so-romantic-we're-in-love type. 

Final verdict: 3.5 shooting stars. It's clear from the writing this is a debut novel; it's pretty basic style-wise and falls prey to some amateur mistakes (for instance, the repetition of "smoky eyes" whenever Rieker is described.) While it doesn't add much new to the genre, and unfortunately does use some clich√©s and well-known tropes, The Faerie Ring does a fine job of providing an entertaining story with fun characters.  





Disclaimer: I received this book for review from the publisher.

3 comments:

  1. I really liked that one twist too! It took me by surprise,

    Great honest review :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. This sounds a bit disappointing but the cover is wonderful.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I wish the background about the ring and the truce between the humans and faeries had been explained more. I love "history building" like that.

    ReplyDelete

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