Author: Kiki Hamilton
Publisher: Tor Teen (September 27, 2011)
Source: ATW ARC Tours
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…I'm not usually one to jump into reading historical fiction, but The Faerie Ring by Kiki Hamilton intrigued me. The faerie aspect made me interested enough to handle the 19th century time period. That said, after reading, I wouldn't really classify this book as historical. Sure, the time period is right, and the pace is a little slower (which I find typical of historical fiction, but many not actually be the case), but it didn't give off a "historical" vibe to me. It gave off an "otherworldly" vibe that I find typical in faerie books.
Tiki is a great character. She's currently a first-rate pick pocket, trying to steal enough to care for her family of orphans. Sure, stealing is not always the most prized trait of a main character, but I liked that Hamilton didn't try to shy away from it. In Tiki's situation, it's a necessary skill to have and she's using it for noble purposes. Beyond being a poor thief, Tiki used to live better off when her parents were alive. This gives her more hidden skills that a common orphan wouldn't have, such as knowing how to waltz and read. Even beyond those characteristics, Tiki has a mysterious birthmark on her wrist that even she doesn't know the significance of. Overall, she has a complex background and history, making her a well fleshed out character.
Though Tiki doesn't always know whether or not to like or trust Rieker, I enjoyed him from the beginning. He's always popping up at random moments to annoy, harass, warn, or protect Tiki. He tries to be a friend at a time and place that true friends are rare. He also has a richly woven past, that I won't spoil here. I'll just say that I hope to be reading more about Tiki and Rieker.
As I mentioned previously, the plot moves a little slow, but in this case, it felt right. There was a steadiness to the timing of the unfolding events and it picked up as the story continued. Though most of the story is from Tiki's perspective, we do get some moments from Prince Leopold's perspective, which I found very interesting. The setting and time period felt very authentic, without it taking over the story.
Overall, The Faerie Ring is a very enjoyable read that I'd recommend to anyone who likes fantasy, historical or not.
Final thoughts: Borrow or buy.