The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater

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  • Spoiler-free Review (there may be minor spoilers for the rest of the series)
  • My rating: 4.25/5 stars
  • Series: The Raven Cycle #4
  • Published: Scholastic Press, April 26th 2016
  • Pages: 439, Hardcover
  • Goodreads
  • Amazon
  • Maggie’s Site

For years, Gansey has been on a quest to find a lost king. One by one, he’s drawn others into this quest: Ronan, who steals from dreams; Adam, whose life is no longer his own; Noah, whose life is no longer a lie; and Blue, who loves Gansey… and is certain she is destined to kill him.

Now the endgame has begun. Dreams and nightmares are converging. Love and loss are inseparable. And the quest refuses to be pinned to a path.


I think this is one of those series that you don’t fully appreciate until it’s over. I’ve slowly read The Raven Cycle over the past year, and it wasn’t until The Dream Thieves that I realized how incredibly unique Maggie’s writing truly is.

The finale to this wonderful series is probably my favorite book of the four. Stiefvater’s style seemed even more ethereal than the first three books. The way she creates such a mysterious, magical tone that is somehow raw and gritty never ceases to amaze me. Her characters are larger than life, but still relatable as real people with real issues. Stiefvater portrays them with such depth that I feel like I’ve experienced everything with them and that I really know the essence of them, especially for Gansey and Ronan in this book.

Ah, Ronan, my darling child. When I first read The Raven Boys, Ronan was my least favorite of the Aglionby dudes. I thought he was aggressive and selfish and rude, but Stiefvater develops these traits into something I cannot live without. I’m so glad that I had a change of heart regarding him, because he’s definitely one of the sweetest, most memorable characters in YA.

Another character I really loved was…Cabeswater? I felt as if the forest was described and characterized so well that it became its own entity-it’s just as vital to the story as Blue. I’m not gonna lie, I may have cried over it in this book. Especially at the end. I’m not going to tell you what happens, but for those of you have read this I’m sure you know what I’m talking about. Bless your soul, Cabeswater.

On the topic of setting, I think Henrietta also became something of a character to me. The world-building was so wholesome that I felt I was in Virginia right alongside the characters. 300 Fox Way became as much my home as it was Blue’s. Thinking about it now, it brings up the same sense of cozy, hominess that Hogwarts does. AND OMG I ALMOST FORGOT ABOUT THE BARNS. I WANT TO LIVE THERE TOO BECAUSE ITS A DREAM FARM. LITERALLY.

I loved how all the characters interacted with each other and the setting. The ships in this book-oh my god. So painful. So beautiful. SO CUTE. The romantic relationships developed  seamlessly, but I also love how Stiefvater emphasizes friendship. There’s a part when Gansey thinks about Blue being his best friend, and that’s when I lost it. Seriously, Maggie is a freaking genius. Making Blue and Gansey best friends, first and foremost, somehow makes there romantic relationship even cuter and more intimate. AND RONAN AND BLUE. I FRIENDSHIP IT. ALSO PERSEPHONE AND ADAM. I FRIENDSHIP THAT TOO.  THEY’RE JUST ONE BIG GROUP OF BEST FRIENDS WHO LOVE EACH OTHER IN THE PUREST WAY.

The entire book gave me the shivers. I don’t have any specific quotes in mind, but flip open to any page in the book and I guarantee you’ll get goosebumps reading it. I. Love. Maggie’s. Writing. I don’t know how she does it, but the entire atmosphere is just so magical and mysterious and ancient and modern and gritty and hopeful and I LOVE IT. If you can’t tell by the rest of this badly-written review, I can’t put my thoughts into words regarding this book. Everything I write just feels so inadequate compared to Maggie’s style. HOW DOES SHE DO IT?? She can literally write “the sky was blue” and I’ll get chills. She doesn’t just tell a story, she shoves you inside it.

One complaint I have, and that has been ongoing for the entire series, is the plot. There seems to be a lack of cause and effect. Different events just start building up, and then bam: climax. (ex: Piper. I’m not really sure how she was important in this book) Now that I’m critically analyzing it, this is an issue, but while reading, I barely even noticed. Maybe the plot direction is just so masterfully subtle that I don’t notice it. I’m not sure, but something about it just feels a bit forced. However, I think this works for the story by adding just a bit of angsty-tension. (I’m sorry this paragraph makes no sense but I have no idea how to explain what I mean. I’m kind of Henry Cheng in this situation. Where’s a robobee when you need one, eh?) So the plot is forced…but it’s kind of a good thing. I think. I don’t know. Sorry.

The ending was beautifully written- bittersweet (with an emphasis on bitter), but totally satisfying. It was unexpected, and, in my humble opinion, the best way Maggie could have ended the series. I’m really going to miss this world.

Overall, this book was more than I could have dreamt (baddum ssss) of. I savored every turn of phrase and unconventional description. The characters, plot, and writing style all converged beautifully to create a magical story that I will never forget. I think the Raven Cycle will remain one of my favorites for a long time to come. Maggie’s voice is one of the most unique (and somehow nostalgic?) that I’ve encountered in the YA genre. I hope that one day Stiefvater decides to let us adventure with Gansey and the gang once more.

Random side note: I recommend translating all the Latin in the book. It adds depth to the story.


QUICK SPOILER SECTION:

I CANNOT FRICKING BELIEVE THIS CRAP. STUPID GLENDOWER. DEAD THE WHOLE DAMN TIME. ALL ALONG IT WAS DARLING SWEET NOAH. NOAAAAAH. AND POOR CABESWATER (although I’m pretty sure it’s still alive, just not as a forest). AND RONAN AND ADAM??!? I DIDN’T KNOW THAT I NEEDED THIS UNTIL NOW. JUST WOW. SO CUTE.

 

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