Book Review: The Faerie Ring by Kiki Hamilton

29 Dec

Title: The Faerie Ring

Author: Kiki Hamilton

Series: The Faerie Ring

Genre: Urban Fantasy YA, Fairies!

Publisher: Tor Teen

Published on: September 27, 2011

Source: Bought ebook

Summary: 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…

Fairies, guys! Or, excuse me, FAERIES. I never know the right way to spell it! I guess it doesn’t matter so much as long as you know that the faeries we often encounter in all literature that isn’t from Disney (no offense, Tinkerbell. Seriously, I mean it. I ALWAYS clapped for you) are not sparkly, fun, pretty, sweet-as-pie little pixies. No, faeries–including the ones we encounter in THE FAERIE RING–are spiteful, vengeful, vicious, gorgeous, and unpredictable menaces who care only for their own pleasure (often at the expense of others) and have no concept of the relative shortness of a human lifespan. In short, they’re really, REALLY pretty pains in the you-know-what, and crossing them should be on a very short list of things to NEVER EVER DO. If not to avoid an individual faerie’s wrath, then at least to avoid putting your foot squarely in the big, steaming pile that is the never-ending war between the Seelie and UnSeelie courts of the faerie realm.

It’s a shame, then, that the main characters in first book of The Faerie Ring series are both unaware of the danger they are in for a time and then largely unable to get themselves out of it once they do. Because their feet are in the pile, guys, and there’s no escaping it now. You see, our girl Tiki, who is a protective, nurturing, fiercely loyal, pick-pocketing orphan living in Victorian London, unknowingly steals something of tremendous value–that would be the faerie ring–to both the royal family (Queen Victoria, who is mentioned often but almost never seen, and her sons, Arthur and Leo) and to the faeries with the hopes of selling it for a pretty penny. Tiki, hoping to make a better life for her little family of orphans who live in Charing Cross Station together, wants to sell the ring for some cold, hard cash. Of course, she has no idea that stealing said ring has put her on the radar of every faerie in the realm, thus putting all of the people she loves most in danger.

I loved Tiki. She’s ballsy, clever, quick, loyal, intensely devoted, and passionate for her orphan family. She’s a lioness. A mama bear. All claws and roaring on the outside and gooey and sweet on the inside. There is NOTHING she won’t do to make all of their lives better, cleaner, easier, safer. NOTHING. Of course, she ALSO has no idea that there are some things even SHE doesn’t know about who she is and where she comes from. She DOES know that there’s this weird tattoo on her wrist, and as the story progresses, people recognize it, and we start to get the feeling that Tiki is going to have some kind of bomb dropped on her sooner or later. Truly, though, what I loved about Tiki was her fearlessness. All of these shenanigans are going on with the ring and the faeries and Rieker (get to him in a sec), and at the end of the day she still makes extra effort to care for her family. She has such a great, respectful, affectionate relationship with them. It was easy to understand the lengths she would go to for them. Hell, I would have done just about anything for sweetie pie Clara!

Of course, though, what kind of faerie book would this be without the romancing? Tiki’s relationship with Rieker is…interesting. I had a hard time getting a grip on him and his motives, and I suspected him of things early on that wound up being true. Their relationship was a slow burn, definitely, that didn’t make me feel the tinglies right away. Although, you can tell that HE has some feelings that SHE doesn’t really know what to do with at first. There’s this whole vibe about their interactions that makes my insta-love/destined 2 be 2-gether 4-ever alarm go off. Tiki’s feelings are conflicted and confusing: she’s mostly irritated by Rieker and his presence. EXCEPT for when she wonders where he is and gets all the butterflies thinking about him or seeing him. There’s some hints near the end at what might be going on with them and I’m curious about it for sure. Because I’m not opposed to them being together. I just have high hopes that it will be better and swoonier than I thought it was here.

I feel like this review is all over the place. I think I had a hard time gathering my thoughts because the book started slow for me. Interesting, but not gripping. The truth is that sometimes, even though I LOVE reading about faeries, it takes me a little while to get hooked on books about them, and THE FAERIE RING was like that. Slow to start, then picked up the pace as it neared the end, with lots of juicy, interesting questions left unanswered for the coming books to handle. I WILL say that I loved very much the historical setting. LOVED IT. Somehow, reading about faeries and magic or any other paranormal-ish thing in a historical setting just amps everything up to 11 for me. It makes the magic seem more real and menacing, the paranormal creatures more dangerous, and the faerie world closer and more threatening.

THE FAERIE RING was one of those books that had just enough awesome in it to keep me reading, and PLENTY of goodies left hanging out in the open, unsolved, to keep me interested in where the story is going to go. If someone were asking me to recommend good books about faeries, I would probably still tell them about Julie Kagawa’s Iron Fey series first, but THE FAERIE RING would certainly not be too far from my lips. I’m definitely looking forward to reading the rest of the books in this series.

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