The Faerie Ringby Kiki Hamilton
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Release Date: September 27, 2011
Publisher: Tor Teen/Macmillan
Age Group: Young Adult
Source: Library Check-Out
About the Book:
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."You wouldn’t be here pickin’ pockets, would you?" Tiki jumped as the dark figure loomed over the corner where she sat, pretending to be half-asleep.
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...
I would label The Faerie Ring as intricate, with so many pieces being interwoven into this dark, suspenseful story. Some of those pieces worked for me and others didn't. I had two major reasons for being excited for this book: the first, FAERIES. In my list of Favorite Paranormals, faeries are located at the top of the list. And there's a reason for that. No, it's not just because these ethereally beautiful people sparkle. These magical creatures are tricky bastards, forever looking out for number one. I've yet to encounter a totally benevolent faerie in YA fiction, most inclining toward wonderfully dark and devious, and in that respect Hamilton definitely delivers. And what really had me jumping up and down in anticipation for this book was the setting. I can't get enough of Victorian London! While Hamilton clearly knew old London well by the time she started writing, I was disappointed because I was only exposed to a few key places. Nowhere eye-popping is invited into the book, sadly.
The Faerie Ring isn't nearly as mind-numbingly epic as I wanted it to be. The story is trapped in that in-between place where you're like, Oh, this is good! followed shortly after by, But... *blank* could've been better. I liked Hamilton's take on faeries, but I wanted them to have more of an appearance in the book! Especially since they are pretty much the main antagonists. Yet, the story focused elsewhere for a substantial chunk of it. The setting is well-written, but mostly portrays either London's "gritty" slums or the grand Buckingham Palace. I wanted much more! The rag-tag street orphans? They flitted between cute and worthy of sympathy to distant and dull. Small Review mentions that they are pretty much "stock cute orphan," and so it's hard to find any depth in these characters. What is there to like? I think, seriously, the only one that that didn't apply to was baby Clara, and it's because I'm a sucker for sickly little girls.
Tiki as a mother hen worked... to a point. On the one hand her protectiveness of her band of friends is endearing and likable, but... she's so confusing! One minute she's this Bad-Ass Thief and then the next minute she's doting on these kids as if they were her own. I liked one side of her personality more than the other. Aside from dressing up with her for the Grand Ball, my feelings toward Tiki flipped as much as her personality did. Rieker, on the other hand, as cheesy as it sounds, had me at "You wouldn’t be here pickin’ pockets, would you?" He's weirdly charming, laidback, with a perfect touch of the enigmatic. His mysterious past doesn't crush the plot, but instead makes you want to know more about him. If Hamilton had written this book as a dual perspective, Rieker's narrative would've so been my favorite.
By the end of the story I was thankful for the lack of instalove and cliffhangers, because, really? Aren't there enough out there already? Plus there's only a handful of authors I can think of who I know execute well what are now trite plot devices. However, this book didn't knock my socks off. There isn't anything remarkable about The Faerie Ring, nothing to cry over, SCREAM at, just plain no emotional response to dish out at all. A sweet closing and yummy simmering romance are obvious bonuses, but the fact that I couldn't conjure a single ounce of emotional distress or brimming joy after reading this book indicates that it isn't a very immersive or completely enjoyable read. I need more thrill, more edginess, just more, more, more, in order to be blown away with any of Hamilton's ensuing works.