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.
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
** 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.
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: ★★★★★