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The Faerie Ring by Kiki Hamilton
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The Faerie Ring (edition 2012)

by Kiki Hamilton

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2173153,683 (3.97)5
Member:krau0098
Title:The Faerie Ring
Authors:Kiki Hamilton
Info:Tor Teen (2012), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 352 pages
Collections:Already Read, Read but unowned
Rating:****
Tags:faerie, fantasy, London, Victorian, young adult

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The Faerie Ring by Kiki Hamilton

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Eighteen seventy-one was an eventful year, by many accounts. There was the disaster that was the Paris Commune, when thousands — maybe as many as twenty thousand — communards were massacred during ‘Bloody Week’ in May. But there were positives too, such as Queen Victoria opening the Albert Hall in memory of her late husband. In literature Edward Bulwer-Lytton published The Coming Race, a novel about the Vril-ya, winged super-humans who lived under the surface of the earth. This was the year too that Lewis Carroll published Alice Through the Looking Glass. 1871 is also the year in which Kiki Hamilton’s novel is set, the action taking place in a Dickensian London (Dickens had died the year before) of toffs and pickpockets. But this isn’t really a novel where social realism is to the fore, as the title strongly suggests.

The protagonist, through whom we see everything, is Tiki, an orphan who has turned to life on the streets rather as Oliver Twist did though with considerably more success. She has a fierce loyalty to her makeshift ‘family’, other orphans like her who have make a home in an untenanted shop by Charing Cross Station. She is suspicious of a fellow pickpocket Rieker who seems to shadow her every move, and who has a secret of his own to conceal.

Pretty soon she finds herself, rather incredibly, skulking around Buckingham Palace — which is when she comes across the ring of the title — and her life somehow gets entangled with two of Victoria’s sons, Princes Arthur (21 in the December of this year) and Leopold (a mere eighteen years old). Possession of the ring further entangles her with fairies (fey or faeries, the usage which the author prefers), some of whom seem about to stage an insurrection, and with whom Tiki unknowingly has a link through birth.

I do like the mix of themes that the author has brought into this story. The ring motif, familiar to us from mythology (the ring of the Nibelungs, for example) and literature (Tolkien’s ring of Sauron) is here featured in quests to both steal and return it as an object of inherent significance. With fairies she has principally incorporated Irish and Scottish traditions (for example, the fairy called Larkin, from an Irish name meaning ‘ fierce’ or ‘cruel’, and the Seelie and Unseelie Courts of Scottish fairy lore) but relocates them to the English capital. By involving Tiki with the British Royal Family she cunningly introduces a Cinderella motif. (Interestingly, Alice Liddell, the original Alice in Wonderland, was romantically linked with Prince Leopold from 1872 when he became an Oxford student.) Victorian street life naturally features, both a conscious nod to Dickens and also, in an aside about climbing boys, perhaps a reference to Kingsley’s The Water-Babies (1863); this last galvanised the public into periodic action until the Chimney Sweeper’s Act (1875) required sweeps to be licensed, thereby making it easier for previous legislation regarding the age of apprentices to be enforced.

There is a lot to like about this first instalment in a quartet involving the cross-dressing Tiki and Rieker: burgeoning romance, genuine menace, upstairs-downstairs intrigue, supernatural happenings, above all characters to engage in, especially the feisty (if headstrong) heroine. It may be a bit churlish then to point out why it didn’t quite work for me, mainly because although Kiki Hamilton is clearly an Anglophile there are aspects that don’t quite ring true for those born or bred in England. Language is the chief issue: throwing in the odd ‘bloody’ or ‘bugger’ doesn’t cut the mustard, in the same way that introducing ‘Gee whiz’ or ‘swell’ doesn’t convince any North American reader. Other things jar, such as the American English use of ‘vest’ which has different connotations in British English, and the constant referral to Buckingham Palace simply as 'Buckingham' when this last is a town some way to the west of London.

These and other minor quibbles aside, this is a tightly plotted story, rendered more enjoyable if one accepts that this is a romantic novel loosely tied rather than dovetailed into an historical context. Not being part of the targeted readership I enjoyed the implicit as well as the explicit influences: the Tam Lin ballad of the human ensnared by a fairy lover, or the J K Rowling feel to aspects of London (there is even a Mr Potts with a bookshop that wouldn’t feel out of place in Diagon Alley). I wouldn’t be surprised to find that the author chose 1871 as much for the appearance of Alice’s Looking Glass and the winged Vril-ya that year as for the convenient ages of the two young princes. The only thing missing in this fantasy is the final epic battle between Good and Evil, but as this is just the first book of a series no doubt that is still to come. ( )
  ed.pendragon | Apr 23, 2015 |
An impressive debut!! Loved it. ( )
  BookLoversLife | Apr 24, 2014 |
Historical fiction is not usually my cup of tea (no real motive behind that), but I enjoyed the historical tidbits sprinkled here and there.
This has been a quick read, with a light prose and a plot that advanced at a steady pace, without the ever-so-annoying useless detours and lenghty descriptions.

This is proof that you can actually write a nice book without anything new or particularly original. Every element was something already known, from the golden ring with misterious inscriptions that can compel people to look at it, to the boyish female character who turns out to be a beautiful girl when polished.

The faerie aspects of the story are treated with the right amounts of initial disbelief and increasing understanding, so nothing feels just thrown on your face (or the character's).

There's a little slowdown around 2/3 of the novel and the ending felt somewhat rushed: that's why I knocked down a star in my rating. ( )
1 vote sbinifera | Nov 8, 2013 |
WARNING: this rant is HEAVY ON SPOILERS (for what I've read anyways)

I was really thinking of droping this book for now (page 144 of 343). Maybe it's me, maybe I'm not in the mood for this. Or it may be the violent disregard of one of the most essential rules of storytelling: make it believable. This isn't believable, and believe me, it's not because of the faeries. Tiki (rhymes with Kiki) is just dumb and annoying and comes up with the most complicated, cockamamie plans ever... like buying a cheap dress to pretend to be a noble girl; or going to a royal ball. Of course the author comes up with pretty unbelievable things herself: like the heroine entering Buckingham Palace in the back of a carriage; or a prince just dropping a Crown Jewel on a rug. Or even the heroine entering the palace a second time with her cheap dress and no invitation (let's not forget the heroine is a street urchin). Not to mention some guy the heroine doesn't trust telling her... "that ring belongs to the faeries" and the heroine like... totally believing him without the slightest persuasion needed.

I think I'll finish this just to be able to write a fair review, but I think this is one book that is simply not for me. The concept is good and everything (London, Victorian era, a tough main character and mysterious ring!) but since the actions of the heroine make me guffaw disgustedly in disbelief at every turn... well, it's going to be difficult. :P

EDIT (now on page 192): Forget it. No way. The whole thing was about the ring being unsafe because it wasn't in the palace; faeries can't steal the ring when it's in the palace. But... now the heroes have to steal the ring from the palace (Tiki went to the ball to put it back) because the faeries have infiltrated the palace? Erm... if it was that easy why didn't the faeries infiltrate the palace before this? No, I'm not reading any more. I just... *snort*
  slayra | Sep 21, 2013 |
Review courtesy of Dark Faerie Tales.

Quick & Dirty: You will be captivated by the world that Hamilton has built and be enchanted by the romance of the story.

Opening Sentence: “You won’t be here pickin’ pockets, would you?”

The Review:

Kiki Hamilton’s The Faerie Ring is set in 1871 London. She has created a world that I want to be a part of. While Hamilton portrayed a time filled with problems and poverty, she also described a world of secrets and enchantment.

Tara Kathleen, or Tiki, lost her parents at an early age. She then ran away from the home of her aunt to escape the creepy watch of her uncle. Now she has left comfort only to live in poverty, stealing her way for survival not only for herself, but for the orphans that she considers to be her new family. The only memories she has left are the faerie stories that her mother told her as a child. While looking for a warm meal to bring home to a sick orphan, Clara, Tiki steals a ruby ring. Tiki is instantly memorized by the beauty and decides that selling this ring is the only way to cure Clara. But of course, it’s never that easy, is it? The ring belongs to the Queen of England, herself! There is more to the ring than meets the eye. A well-known person on the streets is Rieker, who befriends Tiki. He explains that the ring represents a truce between the faerie world and the human world. Now that the ring is out of royal protection, everyone will be seeking the ring.

Secrets unfold and truths are revealed in this historical world. Not only does the tale of the ring unfold, but so does Tiki’s past. Like the ring, there is more to our little Tiki.

I love Tiki and her large heart. I enjoyed how she was written and every detail that went towards her character. Tiki is an example of a well-rounded protagonist. Her strengths and weaknesses compliment the story in an amazing way. I also loved the promise of her future, of who she could become and where it would take the story. Even if this was just a stand a lone book, but I am glad it’s not, I would have been happy.

And then there is Rieker. I did not expect to fall in love with him as much as I did. He is endearing, but also mysterious and captivating. He is the kindred soul that balances Tiki’s broken heart. Their relationship blossomed as each page passed and I was caught in the romance. But the secrets that he holds? Who saw them coming? The brilliance of Hamilton’s genius and creative mind is that she gave us an amazing story and added a little extra without going over the top.

Hamilton did such a fantastic job writing The Faerie Ring. The story was paced so well that it was so easy to get lost in this world. The images were so detailed that I could see the scene play in my mind. The scenes were so well thought out that everything said was believable. I started in the morning and finished at night. I just simply couldn’t put it down.

Everyone has to read this, now, if you haven’t already. You will be captivated by the world that Hamilton has built and be enchanted by the romance of the story

FTC Advisory: Tor Teen/Macmillan provided me with a copy of The Faerie Ring. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review. ( )
  DarkFaerieTales | Jun 27, 2013 |
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Epigraph
A stolen ring, a threatened truce, a kingdom in peril...
Dedication
"For my daughter, Carly, who taught me that love truly has no limits"

and

"For all of us who see the shadows move and know there's something more."
First words
"You wouldn't be here pickin' pockets, would you?"
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Book description
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 is a reservoir that holds a truce binding 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.

Unbeknownst to Tiki, she is being watched 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…
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"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. They survive 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... "--… (more)

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