The Faerie Ring by Kiki Hamilton
Reading Level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Tor Teen (September 27, 2011)
Series: The Faerie Ring #1
Source: Finished copy provided by publisher
Cover: I think this cover is beautiful and it reminds me a lot of the Wicked Lovely covers with the shiny pretty thing and the purplish/blue background. Even the hand looks similar. I actually like the reminder and think this is the perfect cover for this novel!
First Sentence: "You wouldn't be here pickin' pockets, would you?"
Mini-Review: The Faerie Ring is a gem of a debut set against a compelling and addictive backdrop!
Debut novelist Kiki Hamilton takes readers from the gritty slums and glittering ballrooms of Victorian London to the beguiling but menacing Otherworld of the Fey in this spellbinding tale of romance, suspense, and danger.
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…
Set in Victorian England, The Faerie Ring is an enticing blend of historical fiction, romance and the paranormal with lovable characters and a vivid setting that sweeps the reader from opulence to gritty with breath-taking clarity. The plot is full of suspense and twists and it's never easy to guess what will happen next. Well written and utilizing a brand new twist on faerie lore, The Faerie Ring is one heck of a sparkling debut.
Ms. Hamilton paints Victorian era England with the love most writers save only for characters. The result is a setting that is so alive, it's breathing from the little hole in the wall dump Tiki and the others call home at Charing Cross to the opulence and glittering ballrooms of Buckingham Palace. Running through the streets with Tiki was so much fun and by the end of the novel, her world felt real to me.
Speaking of Tiki's world, I loved all of the mechanics that went into being a pickpocket. Ms. Hamilton does a wonderful job of putting the reader right next to Tiki while she steals and we get a sense of the excitement and danger. But we also know why she does it. I loved the different dialects of the shopkeepers and how Tiki could turn her street urchin voice off and on at will. Tiki dual background was a perfect way to have her able to blend in with both worlds, making her a master thief. From her very core she was both thief (we see that in the way she practices making coins disappear in her free time) and middle class in the way she sort of remembers how to do the things she was taught.
Rieker is such a charming scoundrel! Everything from the way he moves to his motivations were addictive. He was seriously put in the novel to make me smile and though I didn't question him as much as Tiki did, it was hard to figure out what was going on behind those smoke grey eyes. The rest of Tiki's gang was just as lovable and I liked that I could see the bound Tiki had with them all. The way they acted with each other made it really easy to see that they'd been doing the same thing for a long time.
Normally third person narrative bothers me but I always relent if it's done well. This is definitely one of those books that makes me throw up my hands and admit that when it works, it works. Being able to see a little bit of what everyone was doing helped the reader piece all the clues together and made for one heck of a suspenseful ending. The plot twists this way and that, involving plenty of slight of hand to keep the reader guessing, and came to a satisfying close... with room for a sequel.
I must admit that I am still a bit fuzzy on the details of the magic and faerie. I liked the lore Ms. Hamilton set up in the book but I wish I understood a bit more about how Tiki connects to it and got to see a taste of the "good" faeries. I think it would have clarified a few things for me. I did love the ring being the item the truce was sealed in and how the fey existed in London. The only other thing is that the story did feel a bit weighty to me in the middle which slowed down my reading just a bit.
The enchanting Victoria England backdrop, lovably rough-around-the-edges gang of characters and gripping plot make The Faerie Ring a gem among the normal paranormal fiction. If you like your historical fiction with a dash of the paranormal and a bit of intrigue, check this one out!