Publication Date: September 27th, 2011
Tor Teen / Macmillan
Format: Hardcover, 352 pages
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…
MY TAKE: 3/5 STARS
Well, I was enjoying this book until I got to the middle. I loved reading about Tiki’s and her makeshift family’s thieving exploits. The enjoyment lasted until I got to the part where Tiki was able to put the stolen ring back to the palace…quite easily. But that’s not the only thing that I had trouble with. I thought that even when Tiki and the kids were swiping food or coal or money, it was conveniently easy. But let’s not focus on that. After all, there are other elements in this book that were palatable.
Perhaps I’ve read enough fairy books in my short lifetime. I just can’t summon enough interest about these fantastical beings anymore. Fairies, much like vampires, have worn out their welcome mat in my bookshelf. But that’s just me. So let me grumble some more about this book.
I liked reading about historic England; at a time when titles such as Lords, Dukes, Duchess, Princes, Princesses and yes, King and Queen still exist – it still does. Now this book is heralded as a fairy tale fashioned with a combination of Oliver Twist and Cinderella. But the entirety of the book was really focused on the fairie element, particularly the fairie ring that held the peace pact between the human world and the Otherworld. I have read countless of fairie books where these beings were portrayed as evil fiends and the MCs somehow ended up having blood lineage to the fairie courts. My point I guess, is that there was no sense of surprise here.
Let me get to the likable parts of the book:
I enjoyed reading about Tiki’s plight – not because I’m a sadist who likes to read about someone’s sufferings. She was a strong character who had to do what she had to do. Tiki got dealt with a lot of bad cards: she became an orphan at an early age – only to fall under the machinations of an uncaring aunt and a dubious uncle. Homeless, she learned the arts of pick pocketing, thievery and living life on the streets. I liked her tender heart and her constant need to take in children who were orphans much like her. I love her unflinching devotion to those who she considered as family.
I also loved the world this book was set in. Historical fiction sometimes bore me but this book also fantasy mixed in so it was hardly a wearisome read.
But in the end, this book was just an okay read for me and personally found that it dragged a bit toward the middle. The romance was nothing to swoon over. Tiki’s constant waffling about whom to trust sort of irked me as well. But I understood why.
I’d like to commend the author though, for combining all these fairy tale elements that readers would like.. just not this reader. Incidentally, I’m a minority in this so…you know what to do – judge for yourself.