The Faerie Ring by Kiki Hamilton

Hey y'all! I'm going to be trying something different today, and messing around a bit with my review format. I'm going to try leaving out the technical bits for now, but let me know in the comments how you like it. This will be mostly thoughts, with a bit of publishing information. Thanks for understanding!

Release Date: October 1, 2011

Publisher: Tor Teen/Macmillan

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…

Tiki makes her living on pickpocketing and stealing, but she just wants to keep her ragtag family safe. She takes care of her adoptive little sisters Fiona and younger Clara, and a few young boys as well. She loves them dearly and works herself to the bone to make sure that nothing ever happens to them. Clara keeps getting sick though, and their rickety home in Charing Cross Station is drafty. Every time that she starts to get better, she ends up becoming sick again.Tiki wants to be able to afford an apartment. She wants to be able to live like a real family. So when Tiki slips into a busy house to escape from a constable, she doesn't expect to find a ring. A glittering, expensive ring dropped by a man.That ring that she stole was more than a ring. It was a symbol of a truce between the fey and England, ensuring safety and peace. Without the ring in the hands of the ruling family, the truce means nothing. The kingdom can be destroyed, fey can wreck havoc everywhere, and nobody is safe.Tiki is also more than she appears to be. A circling mark on her wrist marks her as somebody more than just an ordinary thief, but her role in the truce may be more than she bargained for.The Faerie Ring was utterly intoxicating. I was expecting it to be a good fairy-tale type book but it was so much more! This book swept me off my feet and spun me around and drew me into a haunting, lush, exhilarating world of wonders and the harsh reality of living on the streets.This book was very Oliver Twist meets Ballad meets Princess of the Midnight Ball meets Don't Breathe a Word. The setting and writing was all very dramatic in a good way and it was gritty and wonderful and the perfect fairy tale.I had heard all the buzz about this book, but I didn't really think about it again until I saw it at Inkwood. I got another copy from the Caster Girls Pick-a-Bag contest, but I traded it with Grace from Livre de Amour. Anyways, I finally got what all the buzz was about when I finally read it!Intoxicated was right, because I was incapable of speech when I read this. There was this wow-factor about it, a factor that I haven't seen much this year other than perhaps in The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer and such.Tiki was very loyal. That was one of the first qualities that stuck out to me about her. Most heroines in books are supposed to have a sense of responsibility and want to put their families before themselves. To be redeeming, we expect them to be self-sacrificing and kind. Tiki did what she had to to provide for her family. That's what they were, not a group of orphans, but a family.They loved each other and it was so nice to see. It wasn't what some books do, where each person has a part and comes back to divide the spoils of the day and sleep next to each other and stuff. They interacted and loved each other and put each other before themselves. The younger ones were adorable, and you could see the level of suffering that the older ones endured to make certain that the entire family was safe.The major aspects of this book that really stood out to me were the sense of family and the history in it, along with the glamorous writing and overall AMAZINGNESS.When I first met Rieker in the book, I thought he'd end up to be a friend and ally. I must not have read the blurb because I was surprised when he proved himself to be a love interest. He wasn't completely dashing like most heroes are, that unapproachable charming persona that keeps everybody ten feet away. He wasn't like a god or anything, but seemed very approachable in the beginning. As much as I love daydreaming about those hot, unapproachably perfect guys usually featured in books, I related more to Rieker and Tiki's relationship.And although this doesn't have anything to do with the actual story, does anybody else notice that the author's name is Kiki and the protagonist's name is Tiki? I can't figure out whether that was intentional or not, but Tiki is a very cool name.I really enjoyed the supporting characters. They contributed bits to the story and filled it out a little bit more. The princes, the orphans, everybody. They interacted with each other and wove different plotlines together and tied everything in a neat little knot. I couldn't help but be enthralled by various personalities and how they contributed to the story.The pure intrigue of this book is probably the thing that is going to attract the most readers. The dark, gritty part of the fey business will most likely attract the dark fantasy lovers, the historical fiction and romance part is going to attract romance lovers, the fairy tale bit is going to attract tons of followers, and the political part of it covers the rest.It is hard to make a great paranormal book set in the past. To me there have been good ones, but none that were truly great until now. I love the idea of being in a hoopskirt and running away from a fiend or dancing in a ball or even just going day to day. To this day there still aren't that many great historical books to me and it's even HARDER to introduce a paranormal twist to it. Not to mention that people have been complaining that faeries are overdone, but everything in The Faerie Ring just WORKED.The fey were one of the best parts. They were haunting and elegant while still dangerous and not portrayed as removed and mercurious. They were, but we didn't get that cold and strange feeling like with other books. I thought it was nice to see the fey interacting with the book more, and they weren't just an element that we didn't see throughout the book. The entire plot REVOLVED AROUND them. There was one chilling analogy about dancing barefoot in winter that got to me every time.It almost reminded me of Water for Elephants with its glamorous, sometimes dark and showy nature. There were parts of the book that just shone and others that were more understated. Usually with books like this, I start to get more confused and wrapped up towards the end of the book, but Kiki manages to craft a clear yet engaging climax that left me satisfied. I was obsessed with this book after I finished with it because I didn't expect it to have the effect that it did on me.It was utterly PHENOMENAL to me and I can honestly say that I will remember it. I don't think that it will (at least not for a while) disappear into the flood of YA literature. I can say with confidence that many people will love it and count it to be one of the best novels of 2011. And a debut! I will definitely be keeping Kiki Hamilton on my to-watch list.Please buy this. If your reading tastes are anything like mine, I promise that you will love it.Recommended for anybody who loves: Water for Elephants; Haunting Violet; Oliver Twist; Princess of the Midnight Ball; Aladdin; Ballad; etc,.Possible book club questions:Would you trust Rieker if you were Tiki after all of this lies?Why do you think people are attracted to things they have never seen before?Does the faerie ring remind you of the ring from The Lord of the Rings?Why do you think Tiki feels such a strong responsibility for orphans on the streets?Why are orphans and people living on the streets often the heroes in the books? Is it to show us that hard work can achieve anything or is it just random?etc,. *ARC received from Inkwood/publisher in exchange for an honest review.