Trees in Your Eyes, Stars in Your Heart: The Raven Cycle series Review

The Raven Cycle series by Maggie Stiefvater

Please Note: There are no spoilers for The Raven King in this review, but there will be potential spoilers for Books 1-3 in the series. Although, if you haven’t read The Raven King maybe don’t read this either because it’s one of those books that you need to 100% experience for yourself. 

In short: If you haven’t read this series then please do so. It is so magical and unique. It’s full of amazing, diverse and well developed characters. It’s so enchanting. You will get so lost in Maggie’s poetic writing style. You will 100% fall in love with Blue and her “stupid Raven Boys“. You will laugh, cry and experience every other emotion in between. I know people might be hesitant because of the whole “If Blue kisses her true love he’ll die” premise, but this is not a romance story. It is a story about friendship, adventures, magical beings and finding yourself when all you feel is lost.


The Raven Cycle series by Maggie Stiefvater

Titles: The Raven Boys (#1), The Dream Thieves (#2), Blue Lily, Lily Blue (#3), The Raven King (#4)
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Genre:
Young Adult, Magical Realism, Fantasy
Pages: 409, 439, 391, 438
Publisher: 
Scholastic Press
Dates Published: September 2012, September 2013, Octobebr 2014, April 2016
Buy: Amazon // Book Depository
Australian: Angus & Robertson // Booktopia

Add to Goodreads

** Once again a reminder that this review contains potential spoilers for The Raven Boys, The Dream Thieves and Blue Lily, Lily Blue **

The word ‘Review‘ in the title should be taken extremely loosely because this is honestly just going to be a huge gush fest. I don’t even know where to start. I kind of just want to type over and over again how perfect this series is.  I finished The Raven King almost a week ago and I’ve been thinking this entire time how try and put my thoughts into some kind of coherent structure. I really don’t know if I can, guys. I know there’s probably so many things I’ve forgotten to mention, but I’m still such a mess because of this book. The book hangover is so real. When I finished reading The Raven King I didn’t even know how to process what I was feeling. I hugged my Kindle, laid down and cried. It’s also kind of hard to talk about things that happened in The Raven King without spoiling everything – sorry the vagueness.

Trying to summarise the plot of The Raven Cycle is nearly impossible and that’s one of the many reasons why I love it. Basically, Blue lives in a house with a bunch of psychics (her mother, aunts, cousins ect.) and she is the only one who doesn’t have any kind of ability. Except she kinda does. Whenever Blue is around the other psychics her presence amplifies their power. Blue has been told her entire life that her kiss will kill her true love. Blue’s aunt, Neeve, takes her out on St. Mark’s Eve where spirits of people who will die in the next year show themselves. Despite Blue’s lack of abilities she sees the spirit of a boy, Gansey, who according to Neeve is going to be Blue’s true love. Blue eventually meets Gansey and the rest of his Raven Boys; Adam, Ronan and Noah. Adventures ensue when Gansey tells the story of how he died quite a few years back, but was brought back to life by a dead Welsh king named Glendower. Blue’s life becomes entangled with the Raven Boys as they try to track down Glendower using the power of ley lines. Of course this isn’t easy and throughout the course of the series they encounter an array of people who are trying to make sure that this doesn’t happen. Confused? Don’t worry, we all are.

“She wasn’t interested in telling other people’s futures. She was interested in going out and finding her own.”

The Raven Cycle is full of colourful, rich and diverse characters and settings. There is so much amazing character development throughout this series. You will get to see all these characters grow and you will become so attached to all of them. They are all so different and they play off each other so well. Blue is incredible and headstrong, never letting the boys dominate her. She is really unlike any other main character I’ve read about. Blue Lily, Lily Blue is her time to shine and she’s brilliant. Gansey is the leader, but not in an overbearing away, he’s such a genuinely good person and he really goes on an incredible journey devolpment wise in The Raven King. Ronan is the love of my life fiercely loyal and even though he tries to hide it behind sarcasm and venom he has such a good heart. The Dream Thieves is my favourite book in the series because there’s just so much Ronan and it really helps you understand him. Adam is stubborn, determined and maybe frustrating at times, but oh boy, does he grown and learn throughout the series. Noah is an actual angel and will do whatever he can to help the group (can we talk about how I never saw that plot twist coming in the first book?). The friendships in this story are as magical as the supernatural elements. Maybe even more so. Honestly, just thinking about how much these characters all love each other is making me super emotional. It’s so beautiful and oh so genuine.

Also you know what The Raven Cycle doesn’t have? Absent families. Blue’s life at Fox Way with her mother and other family members is such a prominent part of the storylie. Maura, although slightly eccentric, is such an amazing mother to Blue. I loved the supporting characters in this series as much as I love the main ones. Especially all the ladies, they are so fierce and wonderful. You all know I love positive representations of females and this series totally delivered. Honestly, I loved almost everyone in this entire series. Calla, Persephone, Orla, Mr. Gray and of course the newest addition – Henry Cheng. I have to admit I was a bit hesitant of Henry at first. I really didn’t trust him. I’m glad I was wrong though because he became such a great friend to Blue and Gansey. The characters that we were supposed to hate evoked all the right emotions. Goddamn Piper and Greenmantle. Ugh.

“Blue! Your boys are out front, looking like they’re fixing to bury a body.”
Again? Blue thought.

Cabeswater, a forest in Henrietta, is so alive it was almost like it is its own character. Can a forest have character development? Because, honestly at times it felt like Cabeswater did. It was constantly changing and growing throughout the series. It’s existence is a mystery that gets solved in The Raven King and it explains a lot. The entity of Henrietta was so alive. All the locations featured in this series had such strong personalities. It made the story feel so real. Ronan, a Greywaren, can extract objects from his dreams and that should be so hard to believe, but because of how incredibly vivid everything was it just felt so normal. Like what do you mean people can’t just pull pet ravens out of their dreams? Or have a field full of dream created Camaros? Or dream siblings? That is totally a thing that happens, right? Magical realism is something that I’ll always be confused by, but this series did it perfectly.

The Raven Cycle series by Maggie Stiefvater“And like a deer in the headlights I meet my fate.”

Even though romance obviously has an important role in this series because of the whole “kissing your true love will kill him” inconvenience, it does not steal the focus of the story. I loved that so much. I was so hesitant to start this because I thought it was going to be a romance story, but it wasn’t. Blue’s relationship with Gansey was so subtly beautiful, but intense at the same time? I don’t even know. I loved that there were so many layers to their relationship. It wasn’t all physical. They had such a strong emotional connection and even though they couldn’t “kiss” it didn’t take anything away from it, in fact it made the whole thing even more meaningful and whenever they simply touched hands it was electric.

Adam and Ronan destroyed me. They both balance each other out. I love that they let their guards slip when they’re around each other. I want to talk about a particular scene so badly, but I can’t! You’ll know what I mean if you’ve read it though. I read that scene over and over and over. I loved it so much.

I also loved the friendship between Blue and Ronan. I love how he tried to pretend that he didn’t like her, but you knew that wasn’t the case. Their scenes together were some of my favourites.

Blue took Gansey’s hand. 
Adam was glad she did.
“Gross,” Ronan said.

I’m such a huge fan of Maggie’s writing style. I know its use of repetitiveness and strange metaphors isn’t for everyone – but it is 100% for me. I found it so alluring and magical and I was hanging onto every single word she wrote. For the first time since I read Illuminae my mind wasn’t wandering to a million other places whilst reading this. Some people find the pacing a bit on the slower side, but I think it was perfect. I loved the short chapters because it keeps you on the edge your seat and dying to know what happens next. This is definitely a character driven story and I loved it. Whilst I was reading Blue Lily, Lily Blue I was starting to think I wasn’t going to like it as much as the rest of the story, but then halfway through I realised how intentional the pacing had been and the ending absolutely killed me.

To say I was scared to read The Raven King was an understatement. I was absolutely terrified. The entire series we’d been told that Gansey was going to die and I was mentally preparing myself for it the entire time. That didn’t make it any easier though. I had a constant battle in my head about whether Maggie was actually going to do it or not. I had no idea how she was going to tie up this incredible series. I, of course, had nothing to worry about. Yes, there were a lot of unanswered questions and a ton of things I was still confused about – but that’s just part of what made the series so magical. I know not everyone is a fan of open endings, but I personally love them. And this wasn’t a complete open ending – just enough to let you have your own interpretation of certain events. I’m never really that big a fan of epilogues, but the epilogue in The Raven King was perfect. The last sentence in this series was perfect. It managed to capture the entire essence of the book. If it wasn’t such a giant spoiler I would quote it here, because I’m in love with it.

Because of my obsession with needing to know everything I would have loved more on the whole supernatural black market thing that was going on. That could honestly be an entire series on its own. I was also super confused by Blue’s father and that whole reveal, but that could have been me not grasping everything Maggie was telling us. I would love if she decided to write some novellas in the future because there’s just so many possibilities.

The Raven Cycle is a series that you definitely need to experience for yourself. It is so hard trying to put it into words. I know I’ve used the terms “magical” and “perfect” more than I should have, but it’s honestly the best way to describe this series. It’s one that will stay with you forever. If you’ve read the first book and weren’t sure how you felt, I really recommend you at least give the second one a go because each book just gets better and better. If you’re a fan of all things strange, unusual, beautiful characters and settings then you will absolutely love this series.

Blue thrilled again and again with the knowledge that magic was real, magic was real, magic was real. 

My Individual Ratings
The Raven Boys: ★★★★☆
The Dream Thieves: ★★★★★
Blue Lily, Lily Blue: ★★★★★
The Raven King: ★★★★★

My Overall Rating: ★★★★★
or informally: ALL THE STARS ALL OF THEM EVERY SINGLE ONE

If you’ve read or are planning to read The Raven Cylce series I would love to hear your thoughts!

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38 thoughts on “Trees in Your Eyes, Stars in Your Heart: The Raven Cycle series Review

  1. I couldn’t read everything because I bought the first book and haven’t read it yet, but I wanted to say that I really want to read this series. It sounds so good I want to make sure I have enough time to devote to it. I’ve seen a lot of rave reviews for the series. It’s such a unique concept.

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    1. It’s so unlike anything I’ve read before. Maggie has such an unique and personal writing style. It’s definitely not for everyone, but I found it amazing. It’s just so magical and you become so immersed in the story! I really hope you enjoy it when you pick it up 😊

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          1. I really hope I like it. I’ve bought so many books lately that were so-so, and I really need to find one I can fall in love with and rave over. I need a replacement for The Hunger Games. That book will always be my obsession unless I find something else. It’s been six years since I read the series and nothing has surpassed Katniss for me. I wish someone would write a strong female lead that takes charge without the author telling us she’s a badass. I can’t stand when they do that. Just show me she’s amazing don’t tell me. Right? It’s been way too long without another character like that.

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            1. I was completely obsessed with the first Hunger Games book, but then I just got distracted and never ended up reading the other two! I really need to change that, haha. I so know what you mean though! There are a lot of strong female characters out there, but a lot of them lack being human. It’s like some authors think that a strong character can’t have flaws and emotions. I loved Katniss a lot when I read the first book!

              Blue, the female MC in TRC is definitely strong – but it’s in a subtle way. Like she’s very determined and strong in her beliefs and she doesn’t let the boys get the best of her. For me, it was really refreshing to see because she felt so real and I was able to relate to her a lot more.

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              1. I couldn’t stop at the first one when I read THG. I tore through those books in two days, which is impressive considering how long they are. I was so obsessed it was kind of scary. I like a character like that. When they’re tough in their own way without the author emphasizing it all the time, I like the characters a lot more. It was like Hazel in TFIOS. John Green didn’t keep mentioning she was tough, but her actions and thoughts were enough to let me know she was a survivor and that she was strong. I think I’ll like Blue from what I’ve read about the book. I like a girl that stands up to the boys. I was always that girl. Haha! 🙂

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  2. Ah, it’s killing me not to be able to read this post since I haven’t finished the rest of the series! You’re killing me! Haha. SOON!

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  3. Haha, I didn’t read your review because of your waning at the beginning, but I just want to say that I can’t wait to read this series! Yeah, I’m one of those people who hasn’t started it. I’ve heard nothing but good things about this series though, especially after The Raven King came out. I’m really looking forward to starting this series! 🙂

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  4. I have heard nothing but glowing reviews about this series, so I am so glad to hear that you enjoyed it too and thought it was a satisfying conclusion to the series. Definitely going to have to pick this one up now! Thanks for sharing and, as always, fabulous review! ❤

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  5. Oh my god your reviews have honestly made me want to pick up this series again and read everything from the very beginning. I don’t think I can do that yet though until I have time to adjjust to everything that happened in the last book which I read a week ago now (god it does not feel like that long ago!)
    I completely agree with you about the ending too, I like that it was left open for Blue and everyone else (I love the last line as well, god i didn’t want this book to end but I can’t deny that ending was perfect) also I really do hope there’s some kind of spin-off because now you mentioned it I want to learn more about Blue’s father and th supernatural black market. I feel there is still so much more we have left to learn about this world and I really really want more stories to be written about it!

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    1. Aw, thank you! That is a huge compliment 😊 It was so hard to convince myself not to reread the entire series once I finished The Raven King because I had such a book hangover from it. Yes, exactly!! I seriously hope Maggie does some novellas or a spin off. I need more from this world so badly!

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  6. I’m finally coming back to read this review, since I just finished TRK for myself – and oh my God. I still don’t even know where to begin when it comes to that book. This series is honestly just one of the best things that ever happened to me. And I know EXACTLY what scene you’re talking about, and honestly the feeling is mutual. I reread it at least 3 times and all that was going through my head was !!!!!!!!

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    1. Haha! Welcome back 😆 but oh my god, RIGHT? It’s been several weeks since I finished and I still don’t think I can (or ever will be able to) articulate my thoughts and feelings. I actually can’t even believe this series exists because everything about is so perfect? I love all the characters and relationships and that is so rare for me, haha. I’m so happy this series is a thing. THAT SCENE STILL GETS ME. I honestly ascended. I need more from this world so badly.

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      1. HONESTLY! I’ve been in the worst reading slump since I finished TRK, because I can’t really bear the idea of reading about any world that doesn’t have Blue, Gansey, Noah, Ronan and Adam in it. I literally can’t believe that this series exists ever – it’s how I feel about Harry Potter. I can’t thank Maggie enough for this series, honestly.

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        1. Oh man, the same thing happened to me when I finished! I just kept retreading all my favourite parts. I honestly couldn’t think about anything else. It’s why I made sure the next book I read was one that focused on friendships. I also read the new Rick Riordan book not long after so it was like a double slump 😅 I’m so happy TRC exists though and I really lowkey hope Maggie writes some novellas or something. Or just another series that is as magical as TRC was.

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  7. Yes to THAT scene! I think that was one of my favorite moments in the book! I stopped reading, read it again and had to write a good reads update (So i’d remember what page it was on XD) Fantastic review of the series. 😀

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