The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater is a series I have had sitting on my back-burner pile for quite some time. I started reading an ARC back in late 2012 and abandoned it about a third in. While I found it interesting, I was simply not in the mood for it at the time. Rather than destroy my enjoyment of what I knew would be a great book, I took my time to get back to it. In fact, I purposely waited until all four books were released, knowing that a marathon might be the best thing for this series.
I was correct in doing this. The second time reading this was so much better going than the first.
Blue Sargent lives with her mother and several close friends and family members. All have psychic abilities save Blue, who serves as an amplifier rather than a fortune teller. One year, on St. Mark’s Eve, Blue sees a spirit of the dead, a young man named Gansey whom she is fated to kill with a kiss.
Blue has been told her whole life that this will happen. She has decided to avoid temptation and steer clear of boys, particularly those from the prestigious prep school Aglionby. Known as the Raven Boys for the school crest on their sweaters, the Aglionby boys represent a world that is completely foreign to Blue; a world of wealth and privilege that she could only fantasize at. These two worlds do not align until a fated couple of evenings where Blue meets the infamous Gansey; once in the restaurant where she works and another in her own home when he and his friends arrive for a tarot card reading.
In her heart, she knows Gansey. She knows so much of who he is and whom he might become. She also knows that she must steer clear of him as well as his friend Adam, who deeply yearns for Blue. But the raven boys have a quest before them that sweeps her up as well – a dangerous quest that might endanger them all, with or without her kisses.
To say this book is entertaining is to do it a disservice. It is highly amusing and intriguing on so many levels. Stiefvater is always so adept in a number of things and all of her skills are on full display with this book. She has crafted a number of diverse, interesting narrators to follow around, many of whom demand your attention in every scene, including the smaller players. She has crafted a mystical and unique story that sweeps you along, the plot never lagging. She also created some very humane moments, small seconds of space that make the reader laugh or cry at the depth of their nuances. It’s a rare skill to have but Stiefvater has used all of these gifts to her best advantage in this tale. And it’s done oh so well.
Blue is a great heroine, a firecracker smoldering in her own smoke and flames. That said, she has hidden depths that really add some unique layers to her, particularly as she interacts more with the raven boys. Gansey is also surprisingly full-fledged. To be honest, I wasn’t sure if I would like him at the start of my initial reading, he could have read as a ponce if not developed so carefully and expertly. That said, he is fully realized within the best context surrounding him – his three best friends Adam, Ronan, and Noah. Between this cabal of eager young men, each add dimension to the task at hand – Gansey is determined to find a ley line so that he might discover Glendower – a hidden place that holds the keys to his future. Without any of them the task might not go fulfilled, especially considering their are forces surrounding them determined to ward them from their path.
There are a few particularly sad highlights in the book, but I feel that mentioning them (beyond that) will really kill their impact for another reader. Know that there are some triggery moments of violence and abuse, physical threats and potential death as well. It’s Stiefvater so anything is possible. We know that after reading her other books. However, I feel it’s worth a mention to anyone who is sensitive in particular to domestic assault. Do not go into this book unprepared, as it’s rather ugly when it does come.
Beyond that, you simply must read this book. It’s fun, it’s thrilling, for me it’s love at second sight. I knew I waited for a reason and I am very glad that I did. I am in utter awe of this book. I cannot wait to start The Dream Thieves next.
5 out of 5 stars.
– Follow the Reader –