Nuala is a leanan sidhe, a faery muse who must feed on years of human life to survive. In exchange, she gifts carefully chosen humans with artistic brillance. Different from other faeries, to remain immortal Nuala must willingly burn herself alive every 16 years on Halloween, to be reborn from the ashes. The catch? When she steps from the ashes, she will remember nothing of her life before the fire. Despised by the faeries for the humanity this gives her, and humans for the lives she must steal to survive, Nuala is alone and deeply lonely. Until she meets James, a few weeks shy of her burning day.
James is still in love with Dierdre, his best friend. But Dierdre is still shell-shocked from the events of last summer, mourning the loss of her beloved Luke, the faery assasin she fell in love with in Lament. A talented piper, James hopes that a new start for both himself and Deirdre at a new school, the exclusive Thornking-Ash, a school for musical prodigies, will give him a chance with Dee. But when it becomes obvious that the faeries have not only followed them to Thornking-Ash, but are gathering for something sinister, everything changes. Especially when James begins to see a shadowy horned figure singing of death in the hills behind the school every night at sunset.
And then James meets Nuala. When he refuses her offer of musical genius, Nuala is first shocked, then enraged. Determined to force him into an agreement with her, she begins to follow him, harrasing him at every turn. But when James saves Nuala from the dark games of the fey one night, her anger turns to gratified fascination. As time passes, Nuala and James begin to realize that it is more than just his talent drawing them together.
When the Faeire Queen offers James a chance to save Nuala's memories, they both know it won't come without a price. And when Dierdre goes missing, James begins to see what sort of game the faeries are playing. The question is, will he be able to save both of the girls he loves? And what will he have to sacrifice to try?
If you enjoyed Dierdre and Luke's story in Lament, you'll love James and Nuala in Ballad. This lush, lyrical, dark tale is one you'll love to sink into and savor. Maggie Stiefvater is fast becoming one of my absolute favorite authors, with her achingly sad, eerily beautiful love stories that almost sparkle with magic. If you're a fan of Melissa Marr, Holly Black, and Cassandra Clare, you've got to check out Ballad @ the library!
(now reading Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld - fabulous!!)