Dierdre "Dee" Monaghan is shy, pretty and a singing/harp playing prodigy. She is also on the top of the Fey's Most Wanted List, which isn't a place you want to be. Dee has a burgeoning talent for seeing the supernatural, a frightening occurrence that begins happening in high frequency around the same time as the beautiful and mysterious Luke Dillon comes waltzing into her life. Dee quickly finds herself with a lot on her plate: She's unwillingly caught in the web of some dark cunning faeries. Freaky. She tries to maintain balance in her relationships, both family and her bestie, James, an utterly charming and snarky piper. Tres Annoying. Then, against her better judgment, she finds herself becoming infatuated with Luke who may or may not be lying/honest/protecting her/trying to kill her/good/sinster/human/merman. Okay, he's not a merman. But still. STRESSFUL.
Let's start with what first jumps out at us, shall we?
The cover shown at the top is my favorite of the two editions you can find in libraries and bookstores. Which isn't saying tons, but the cover with the sword? Come on. I felt the same when Finnikin of the Rock came out; I knew I wanted to read it but I also knew I never wanted to read anything with a sword on the cover. Since this book is aimed towards girls I'm thinking that the sword is NOT helping to sell it. Call it a hunch. Nothing about these covers gives any kind of feel for what you might find inside, but rather gives the illusion of chinsy writing and storytelling, which is a shame.
But let's move on to its true merits.
I love Maggie Stiefvater. She has a gift with words, using them lyrically to fit this story but utterly real to where it doesn't feel as if you're reading at all. Rarely does her writing come across stilted, forced or trite. I covet such talent. But I digress.
This is one of the ultimate paranormal romances, because while in many ways it's formulaic, the story and the characters are just excellent. Dee, though quiet and vulnerable, is smart and has an admirable strength. Luke, a flute player, has a Secret and is obviously tormented by it. Their connection is immediate and strong, though I felt it came on too fast to be genuine. Actually, truth be told, I found him stalkerish through the beginning. By the end though I was buying it hook, line and sinker. Both struggle to do what they judge to be right and best, not just what they want, which is rare to come across in any love story. Then compound that to their inexorable ties to The Fey, and you have the formula for why Stiefvater excels in Lament and the follow-up, Ballad.
This world of faerie is dark and strange. I found myself on occasion wanting to yell to Dee to JUST GET OUT OF THERE because I could just feel the creepiness wafting out of the faeries with their cruel beauty and cunning minds. Luke also has this other-worldly and enigmatic aura going for him, and you're never sure what his intentions are. I liked that I slowly pieced together his story, figuring him out at the same time as Dee. It made for a sometimes confusing beginning, but an engrossing end that I felt emotionally invested in. Just because I liked this particular love story though doesn't mean that others will. There are plenty out there who don't, and their complaints are valid. So take it for what it's worth.
Much like the songs Dee sings whilst strumming her harp, Lament is hauntingly beautiful because it weaves classic themes in such a unique style and setting. Trust and deception, sacrifice and selfishness, love and loss and redemption. Without giving any real spoilers let me warn that the ending is abrupt and surprising, and don't expect answers to all your questions. If you are a human who NEEDS resolution to every story, know that you aren't likely to find it. Ballad, known as the sequel and often said to be better than its predecessor, is NOT a sequel in the sense that it solves all the problems that began in Lament. Though I myself find some angst in Not Knowing Everything, it's totally worth it.
I give this book an A for plot, writing style, pace, characters and that pull-me-in-and-wring-me-out factor.