I finished The Raven Cycle series! I really enjoyed the series as a whole, and the final book was no different. If you haven’t read any of the first three books you can check out my reviews: The Raven Boys, The Dream Thieves, Blue Lily, Lily Blue. Obviously, there are spoilers for book one in the other two reviews etc. so only read on if you don’t mind being spoiled!
Onwards to my review of The Raven King…
TL;DR The gang’s search for Glendower comes to an end, Blue tests the truth of her prophecy, Piper Greenmantle tries to auction the demon off to the highest bidder and Ronan discovers the connection between his dream thief abilities and Cabeswater. Oh, and there’s lots of kissing.
Where do I start?? This was probably the strangest book in the series, and that’s really saying something. This series is one of the weirdest, eeriest and most magical I’ve ever read. It wasn’t perfect, but I almost loved it more for that.
The main plot lines from the previous books all come to some kind of resolution, even if it’s not quite what we hoped for or expected. The ending leaves a lot to the imagination, but for a series where imagination has been essential throughout, and dreams are an integral part of the narrative, I expected nothing less.
The hunt for Glendower comes to an end, our ships are all ready to make sail (I won’t tell you which ones do!) and the events set into motion in Blue Lily, Lily Blue finally come to a head. The demon found in the caves by Piper and Neeve draws a crowd of magical artefact enthusiasts to Henrietta, but its power puts the entire town in danger and only our favourite foursome can stop the creature.
There are plenty of shocking revelations about the group and their abilities, their ties to Cabeswater, and what Cabeswater really is. I was quite satisfied with what we learned in The Raven King, even if we were left with lots of questions to ponder on our own. I know a lot of readers found the ending really anticlimactic, and this book is certainly not my favourite of the series, I found it less action packed and gripping than the other three (Blue Lily, Lily Blue is my favourite, in case you’re wondering), but I still consider it a worthy finale in many ways. I don’t mind being left with questions, it means I’m still thinking about the book days later, rather than completely forgetting about it the instant I put it down.
Perhaps one of the reasons I wasn’t as frustrated as others when I finished this book is because I read it so long after it was originally published, had seen online how disappointed lots of readers were and could manage my expectations accordingly, and Maggie has recently announced a Ronan trilogy, which will hopefully answer some of my questions. Ronan and Adam have been my favourite characters from the beginning, so I’m really excited to read a trilogy focused on them rather than Blue and Gansey.
My favourite part of the book has nothing to do with our fantastic foursome, or the psychics from 300 Fox Way, or even the Grey Man. My absolute favourite part was when Henry Cheng (one of the Vancouver crowd who idolise Gansey) talked about the language barrier between his thoughts and his words:
“It wasn’t that Henry was less of himself in English. He was less of himself out loud. His native language was thought.”
And how his mother, Seondeok struggled to make herself understood in English and would always say “It is that…but also something more.”
“Something more explained perfectly why he could never say what he meant – something more, by its definition, would always be different than what you already had in your hand.”
It sums up beautifully what it’s like to speak another language and feel like you’re not quite yourself in your second language. You can’t say what you mean with as much clarity and simplicity as in your native language, and you feel like your personality is being filtered through your limited vocabulary. I speak Spanish and on my year abroad in Spain I didn’t feel like myself at all, there’s something about the words we use and the way we express ourselves with language that’s absolutely intrinsic to our identities.
I gave The Raven King 4 stars, as I say it’s not my favourite, in fact I’d go so far as to say it’s my least favourite of the four (and I struggled with a few things in The Dream Thieves) but for one of my new series obsessions that’s definitely not to say it was a bad book or I didn’t love it. The setting and characters are everything in The Raven Cycle, and the moody atmosphere coupled with the mystical elements give it such an intense and claustrophobic feel. I’d definitely recommend reading this series if you love YA fantasy and any of Maggie Stiefvater’s other books.
Have you read The Raven Cycle? Are you dying for the new Ronan trilogy, like me?
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