Ballad: A Gathering of Faerie
By Maggie Stiefvater
Llewellyn Publications, 2009. 352 pages. Young Adult
James Morgan is a prodigiously talented musician who attends the Thornking-Ash School of Music with his best friend Deirdre. He has long been harboring an unrequited crush on Dee who is beautiful, mournful, and sees Faeries. James is tired of pining after Dee and bored with the conservatory. Nuala is an alluring faerie muse who sets her sights on James. As she states at the beginning of the novel, “I liked them young, talented, male. The more handsome the better.” Nuala sucks the life force out of her victims while at the same time inspiring them to be creative geniuses. Due to his previous experiences with faeries James is the first mortal to say no to Nuala’s bargain. However, as Dee pines for a lost boyfriend and behaves in an increasingly bizarre manner James turns to Nuala for friendship. James soon learns that both Dee and Nuala are in danger from the new Queen of the Fey.
James only plays a minor, albeit charming, role in the first Faerie novel Lament. I was happy to see an entire book devoted to him in Ballad. James is the driving force behind this novel which doesn’t focus as much on plot as the characters. James is skittish, eccentric, artistic and a rebel. Although I didn’t personally like this novel as much as Lament I still enjoyed inhabiting Stiefvater’s edgy supernatural world for the hours it took me to read the book. I would recommend reading Lament before Ballad.