Book review: Lament by Maggie Stiefvater

editorial image

Handsome Luke Dillon is a dream come true - quite literally.

The night before an important music competition, gifted harpist Dee Monaghan dreamt of the blue-eyed, blond-haired boy – the next day he walked into her life, and her heart.

But love hurts and dreams can sometimes turn into nightmares - deadly ones!

Maggie Stiefvater’s shimmering, simmering, simply sensational young adult novel takes urban fantasy out into the steamy suburbs of Virginia where a thrilling brand of danger lurks in sunlit gardens and clover-filled meadows.

Lyrical, lusciously romantic and with a bittersweet plotline liable to send adolescent girls stratospheric, Lament is a mesmerising, miasmic tale of evil faeries, wicked queens, lost souls and a girl who thinks she’s ordinary until one hot summer’s night.

Stiefvater’s magical story hinges on the mysteries and music of Celtic folklore which she cleverly weaves into a contemporary setting and then stitches together the whole package with blissful frissons of to-die-for teenage love.

Sixteen-year-old Dee is painfully shy, prodigiously talented and, for reasons she doesn’t understand, has intensely detailed dreams.

So when Luke Dillon mysteriously and rather unromantically appears just as she’s being sick with nerves before taking to the stage, she knows with certainty she’s seen him before.

As she makes sweet music with him both inside and outside the concert hall, Dee realises that Luke is taking control of her life and her emotions. ‘Something in me prickled with either a warning or a promise. I had a choice – the power to decide which one it was. In a safe world, it would have been a warning.’

In the end, there is no choice for Dee because both she and Luke are following an unwritten script, one that will lead to the discovery that Dee is a ‘cloverhand’ – someone who, for better or worse, can see faeries – and Luke, the exciting and enigmatic young man who has taken over her senses, is a ‘gallowglass,’ a faerie assassin with his sights set on Dee.

A captive of the faerie queen, Luke has been bound to her for the last one thousand years while his tortured soul is trapped inside a gilded cage.

As revelations come thick and fast and time runs out, Dee must make life-changing decisions not only concerning herself but about those she loves most...her complex family, her best friend James and, of course, drop-dead gorgeous Luke.

Because however dangerous he is, stopping loving him might no longer be an option.

Lament, a beautifully written and haunting story of good and evil, love and hate, the spiritual, the temporal and the power of emotions, is about as good as teen fiction gets.

Just as well then that the sequel, Ballad, will be hitting the shelves in May. It can’t come too soon!

(Scholastic, paperback, £7.99)