"Compelling characters, riveting tension, and rich, complex worldbuilding make this a must-read for fantasy fans."– Kirkus Reviews
Hamilton (The Faerie Queen, 2014) launches a planned YA historical fantasy series driven by a strong heroine, intrigue, mystery, and a little bit of romance.
For years Nica has been at the mercy of her abusive father, a ruthless ruler determined to take over a neighboring kingdom. Aided by her friend Toppen, Nica finally tries to escape her father, only to plunge into a battle for survival. She teams up with a young mercenary named Jonn Shanks, and together they begin to parse clues about both her father and her past. When Nica discovers that she isn’t who she thought she was, she is suddenly in a race against time with Shanks to defeat her father before he captures her and destroys what little good is still left in her world. The secret to victory lies in the mythical Getheas Stone. Nica and Shanks must decipher clues in ancient quatrains to find the stone before her father does. The innocent romance between Nica and Shanks is endearing, though her jealousy of his princess “boss” feels petty and shallow given the enormity of the stakes they are facing. Hamilton’s prose shines on the page, delivering brilliant descriptions and fast-paced plotting with plenty of tension. The prophetic quatrains are based on the 16th-century writings of Nostradamus, lending authenticity to the story. Nica is brave and strong, but her flaws and vulnerability make her a compelling heroine for whom it’s easy to cheer. Likewise, Shanks and his best friend, Sebande, are complex, intriguing heroes who are equally as dynamic. The trio drives the book, resulting in unexpected plot turns, edge-of-your-seat suspense, and moments of tension-relieving laughter. Secondary characters, such as her depraved father and the wise castle scholar, are well-drawn too. The way Hamilton cleverly layers in pieces of information that become important later is excellent, creating a tightly plotted storyline in a detailed, lush fantasy world. The ending calls upon inner strength and bravery from the young trio, but plenty of loose ends promise another book in the outstanding series.
Compelling characters, riveting tension, and rich, complex worldbuilding make this a must-read for fantasy fans.
The dramatic conclusion to the faerie fantasy series by Hamilton (The Seven Year King, 2013 etc.).
The story opens with the UnSeelie king closing in on his goal of destroying the Seelie people, including their reluctant queen Tara, who’s sequestered in London trying to reclaim her ordinary, human life. When Larkin, the Seelies’ de facto leader, threatens to kidnap a girl dear to Tara if she refuses to return and help defeat the UnSeelies, Tara decides she can no longer deny her destiny. The devastation she encounters upon her return galvanizes her, but she and her cohorts become distracted when they go on a rescue mission to save a prisoner. Afterward, Tara decides to abandon Faerie and return to her human life after all, despite the fact that the UnSeelie king continues to gain strength. It isn’t until he kidnaps one of Tara’s family members that she finally steps up, recruiting a richly drawn, intriguing cast of secondary characters to help, including her lover, his brother, and another, unexpected ally. Although Tara is the book’s namesake, her decision to abandon Faerie when her people are being tortured and killed makes her appear somewhat weak and selfish. Even when she returns for the final battle, she’s more concerned about her beloved friends than the fate of the world. Larkin is the story’s most compelling character, and her courage, sacrifice and bravery make her worth rooting for. Hamilton delivers vivid battle scenes in the lead-up to a brilliant, surprise ending. The prose is witty and rich throughout, offering a masterful vision of two intertwining worlds. The faerie lore is also intricate and well-developed. As the final book in the series, it wraps up many subplots from prior installments, although it sometimes provides insufficient back stories, which can make it difficult for readers who haven’t recently read the rest of the books. That said, it delivers clever plot twists that keep the suspense mounting and the pages turning.
A strong finale to a dark, compelling series.
Hamilton (The Torn Wing, 2012, etc.) revisits the fantasy world of Faerie in the third book of her young-adult series.
Tiki, a 16-year-old former pickpocket, must accept her newly discovered destiny as the Seelie queen and become the leader of a world she doesn’t understand—and, quite frankly, doesn’t really want to rule. Her heart is back in London with her cobbled-together family of former street orphans, but now the entire future of Faerie is resting on her shoulders. When she discovers that a dear friend, Dain, has been kidnapped by the Unseelie king to be tortured and sacrificed, she and her lover, Rieker, must brave the secrets and dangers of Faerie to save him. At the same time, she tries to manage her duties as queen and spar with Larkin, a faerie with a suspicious agenda. Tiki and Rieker go deep into the nefarious politics of the Otherworld, but their creativity and bravery save the day. Despite Tiki’s courage in her quest to find her missing friend, her constant need for Rieker’s reassurance makes her appear somewhat weak and insecure. The novel’s suspense and action keep things moving, but its extensive reliance on back story sacrifices some of its intensity while providing very little character development. Tiki becomes more invested in her role as queen by the end of the story, but readers may find her evolution is too linear and one-dimensional. However, Hamilton’s layered, complex worldbuilding creates a marvelous landscape of both London and the Otherworld. The fantasy world’s lore is intriguing and well-conveyed, making it easy for readers to navigate as the story progresses. Hamilton’s prose also contains moments of pure, poetic beauty that ensnare the reader with their magic: “It’s like time is fractured….As if one foot is in the past, when this building was alive and full of people—and one foot in the future, left with only the memory of what has been.”
A solid YA fantasy with moments of brilliance.
Book Two in the Faerie Ring series picks up where the previous book ended and continues the tale.
Newcomers to the series will have no trouble catching up with the goings-on of Tiki, Rieker and their gang of ex-pickpockets in Hamilton’s latest (The Faerie Ring, 2011). The issue of the queen’s stolen ring has been mostly resolved; now it’s time for the protagonist to understand who she is and the meaning of the birthmark on her wrist. The biggest obstacle to Tiki’s self-discovery is also her best source for information: the inexplicable Larkin, a faery whose agenda is completely and often frustratingly hidden. Larkin pops in and out of the human world at will, refusing to disclose information that would enrich Tiki’s journey. There’s also the possibility that Tiki holds the key to end the tension building between the two faery factions: the Seelies and the UnSeelies. The plot revolves around her quest to find out if Larkin’s being truthful about Tiki’s heritage. This is a fun read, all but impossible to put down, and Tiki’s burgeoning relationship with Rieker is sweet and just right. Other high points include Tiki’s bravery when facing the UnSeelie king, her interactions with the royal family and her struggles with the changes in her life. She’s a lucky woman, and in the end, we find out why: As always when dealing with the fae, all is not what it seems at first glance, and that includes Tiki, herself. While not enough attention is given to the political machinations between the Seelies and the UnSeelies, nor to the fae/human relationship, Tiki, Rieker and their crew can easily sustain readers’ interest. More skillful and consistent copy editing would tip the scales heavily in Hamilton’s favor.
Lovers of fairy tales and Victorian England aren’t the only readers who will be charmed by this story of self-discovery.
In 1871 London, a ragged girl pickpocket steals a ring that enforces a truce between the British Crown and the Faery world, setting off a struggle between the realms.
Tiki supports her adopted “family” of orphans by using her uncanny ability to steal. When she stumbles into Buckingham Palace, she finds a ring and takes it. However, she learns that the ring is enchanted, and that dangerous faeries want it. Helping her (or is he?), the handsome Rieker also roams the streets of London as a thief, and he claims to know much about the faeries. Tiki tries to ransom the ring and fend off two menacing faeries, but when one kidnaps her little charge Clara, she faces a life-or-death situation. And, just how close is Tiki herself to the faery world? Hamilton debuts with a fantasy that has a heavy—and interesting—historical focus on the poor street children of Victorian London and contrasts their lives with the splendor of the wealthy. Even the realistic portions of the novel, however, rely heavily on some highly implausible events. Well, it’s a fantasy. Plausibility isn’t required, even if it takes some effort to suspend disbelief. The faeries convince readers of their magic and their danger, the humans of their individuality. The story keeps suspense high with one crisis after another, until it escalates into a final exciting showdown.An entertaining magical-historical adventure. (Historical fantasy. 12 & up)