Review: The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater

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.

The Raven King Maggie Stiefvater

4 stars

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.

The Raven King Review Lyndsey's Book Blog

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.

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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?

 

Lyndsey

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I am a member of the Book Depository affiliate program, so if you click through and buy any of the books mentioned in this blog I might make a little commission, but I am not paid to review books and all reviews are my own opinions!

 Review the Raven King

Review: Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater

I am really burning through The Raven Cycle series by Maggie Stiefvater! I’ve already downloaded The Raven King and as soon as I finish listening to Nevernight by Jay Kristoff I’ll be getting stuck into the series finale.

If you haven’t read the first two books in the series, you can check out my no spoiler reviews here: The Raven Boys and The Dream Thieves.

TL;DR Gansey is still looking for Glendower, Adam is still proud, Ronan is still angry, and Blue is still independent. Maura is missing, the Grey Man is back and his boss, Greenmantle, is on the hunt for the Greywarren (now aware that it is a who and not a what).

Blue Lily, Lily Blue Maggie Stiefvater Lyndsey's Book Blog

4.5 stars

Synopsis

At the end of The Dream Thieves, Maura left a note for Blue to say she was going looking for Artemus – Blue’s father, who disappeared while Maura was pregnant and hasn’t been seen since. Now Maura is missing too, underground in the caves beneath Cabeswater.

Persephone is still helping Adam to master his powers and strengthen the ley line. His bargain with Cabeswater is effecting him more and more, making him darker and moodier, although he has learnt how to interpret its attempts at communication, which are often terrifying manifestations and visions.

“For so long, he’d wanted Gansey to see him as an equal, but it was possible that all this time, the only person who needed to see that was Adam.”

Ronan is still trying to figure out a way to save his mother, and all the other dream things that fell to sleep when his father died. He’s getting closer, his mother is now living in Cabeswater, where she seems to function again. Unfortunately, his dreams are encroaching more and more on his daily life, forcing him to sleep in his car rather than endanger Gansey by dreaming up a hornets’ nest inside Monmouth.

“Ronan was angry-every one of his emotions that wasn’t happiness was anger.”

Ronan and Adam spend a lot more time together in this book, working together on secret plans and using their connections to Cabeswater to try and fix the problems that the gang are battling – namely Greenmantle and his obsession with the Greywarren.

“They regarded each other. Adam fair and cautious, Ronan dark and incendiary. This was Ronan at his most truthful.”

Blue and Gansey’s relationship develops really nicely in this book, they continue to grow closer despite the obvious barriers – the fact that Gansey will die within twelve months and Blue will kill her true love if she kisses him. So, small, surmountable obstacles then.

“Blue was perfectly aware that it was possible to have a friendship that wasn’t all-encompassing, that wasn’t blinding, deafening, maddening, quickening. It was just that now that she’d had this kind, she didn’t want the other.”

Colin Greenmantle and his wife, Piper, are absolutely brilliant villains – funny, snarky and completely immoral. Colin replaces the baddie from book one, Barrington Whelk, as the boys’ Latin teacher at Aglionby, which leads to some hilarious exchanges between Colin and Ronan in Latin. Piper is a fabulously self-serving, sharp-tongued, blonde bombshell with a seriously dysfunctional moral compass. Their relationship is just fascinating, I don’t think I’ve ever loved a couple of villains as much as the Greenmantles.

“She drifted towards the bedroom, on her way to have a bath or take a nap or start a war.”

The other star of this book is Jesse Dittley, a man who’s family farmhouse sits on top of a cave they suspect Glendower might be buried in. As it turns out, the caves are cursed and eventually kill every member of Dittley’s family, including his father and grandfather. He finds Blue’s short stature fascinating and seems to be permanently shouting.

“I AM JESSE DITTLEY. DID YOU NEVER EAT YOUR GREENS?”

We also get to know Malory, Gansey’s British friend, much more in this book. He travels over to Henrietta, accompanied by his emotional support dog, and helps the gang find the caves where the believe Glendower to be hidden.

“Malory, unhopeful: “I don’t suppose you have any tea?”

Jesse: “DO YOU WANT EARL GREY OR DARJEELING?”

Malory: “Oh, sweet heavens!””

Blue Lily Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater review Lyndsey's Book Blog

I listened to Blue Lily, Lily Blue in two days (I was doing a lot of decorating and gardening due to us moving house next month) and I enjoyed it slightly more than The Dream ThievesThere are a couple of songs in this book, one being the moody and traditional Blue Lily, Lily Blue, the other being the catchy and annoying Murder Squash. I love the layers of art in these books, Maggie Stiefvater is a musician as well as a writer and always creates music for her books – one of the treats of listening to the audio books is not only hearing these songs aloud, but hearing Maggie playing her own music at the beginning and end of each book.

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One of my favourite things about The Raven Cycle is the slow development of romantic relationships. The obvious one is Blue and Gansey, who aren’t able to be together because of the aforementioned curses, but also because they don’t want to hurt Adam, who liked Blue first. In this book we finally start to see some hint of romance between Ronan and Adam (that might be a spoiler if you know literally nothing about The Raven Cycle, but if you spend any time at all online – especially Tumblr – then you’ll already know, as I did, that they get together).

It’s been hinted at very subtly throughout the series that Ronan is gay – by subtly, I mean it’s not openly stated and he isn’t constantly eyeing up guys, it is suggested that he feels something stronger than friendship for Gansey in the beginning, but that feeling is obviously not reciprocated. It isn’t at any point (that I noticed) suggested that Adam is gay, or bisexual, until this book, so I’m really looking forward to seeing how their relationship develops in The Raven King.

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I gave Blue Lily, Lily Blue 4.5 stars, because it was a more gripping read than The Dream Thieves and had less elements I wasn’t a fan of – if anything, the only thing I didn’t love was Malory, I’m not sure his presence really added anything to the story. The tension and suspense is still present in this book, and I am dying to seeing how it all pans out in the final book.

Have you read The Raven Cycle? Which of the four books was your favourite? I’ve seen online that a lot of readers weren’t happy with the finale so I’m slightly apprehensive, but I really need to see what happens to these characters now, I’m so invested!

 

Lyndsey

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I am a member of the Book Depository affiliate program, so if you click through and buy any of the books mentioned in this blog I might make a little commission, but I am not paid to review books and all reviews are my own opinions!

Review Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater Lyndsey's Book Blog

Review: The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

Haven’t read The Raven Boys yet? Check out my spoiler free review here. There will be spoilers for book one in this review so don’t read on if you haven’t read it!

I listened to the audio book of The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater earlier this month, the second book in The Raven Cycle series. It’s narrated by Will Patton again, who does a great job of creating tension and giving each of the characters their own sound. His voice is very gravelly, which is perfectly suited to Ronan!

The Dream Thieves Maggie Stiefvater Lyndsey's Book Blog

4 stars

Synopsis

The Dream Thieves shifts focus slightly away from Gansey and on to Ronan, who’s learning more about his strange ability to take things – like Chainsaw, the raven – out of his dreams.

“He danced on the knife’s edge between awareness and sleep. When he dreamt like this, he was a king. The world was his to bend. His to burn.”

Adam is now living in an apartment he rents from the nuns, refusing to move into Monmouth Manufacturing with the other boys. Typical Adam.

“It was nothing, but it was Adam Parrish’s nothing. How he hated and loved it. How proud he was of it, how wretched it was.”

Gansey is still looking for Glendower, and now Cabeswater, which has decided to disappear from its usual spot in the forest. The now live leyline is tripping the electrics across Henrietta, power surges causing the town’s generators to blow on a semi-regular basis.

A sinister man dressed in grey has arrived in town and is on the hunt for the Grey Warren, unaware that it’s a who and not a what. And an angry, shaved-headed who at that.

“He was clearly related to Declan: same nose, same dark eyebrows, same phenomenal teeth. But there was a carefully cultivated sense of danger to this Lynch brother. This was not a rattlesnake hidden in the grass, but a deadly coral snake striped with warning colours. Everything about him was a warning: If this snake bit you, you had no one to blame but yourself.”

Review The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater Lyndsey's Book Blog

I really enjoyed this book, it was great to slip straight into the story without too much introduction as we’re already well acquainted with the characters. I actually really liked the change of pace and getting to know Ronan a bit more, and the new characters that were introduced were fascinating and layered.

I’ve seen some people complain that it’s not really a sequel, it’s more like a spin off about Ronan, but I completely disagree (plus, there’s an entire series about Ronan coming soon!). We see plenty of the other characters, I would just say that whereas the focus of book one was Blue and Gansey, in this one it’s Ronan and Adam. I actually think it works better as a sequel than if we’d stuck with Blue and Gansey and left the others as somewhat secondary characters – this way it’s more of an ensemble cast.

“So what you’re saying is you can’t explain it.”
“I did explain it.”
“No, you used nouns and verbs together in a pleasing but illogical format.”

The group dynamic is just as dysfunctional and hilarious as in book one, with the relationships between Blue and Adam and Gansey becoming ever more complicated. I loved seeing more of Gansey’s and Ronan’s families, and it goes without saying that some of my favourite parts happened at 300 Fox Way. Maura, Calla and Persephone are great characters and add a lot of humour to the book.

“I thought you said scrying was a bad idea.”
“It’s like vodka,” Calla said. “It really depends on who’s doing it.”

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I gave The Dream Thieves 4 stars, I really loved being back in Henrietta with this co-dependent, magical bunch, but it has a slightly different feel to The Raven Boys. If I’m honest, I’m not sure about the whole Kavinsky thing, it felt a little bit too convenient, but that might become clearer in the next book.

I’m currently listening to A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas, and as soon as that’s finished I’ll be jumping straight into Blue Lily, Lily Blue, so expect a review of book three soon!

Have you read The Raven Cycle series? What did you think? Who’s your favourite character? I was leaning towards Adam but I’ve taken a liking to Noah after this book!

Lyndsey

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I am a member of the Book Depository affiliate program, so if you click through and buy any of the books mentioned in this blog I might make a little commission, but I am not paid to review books and all reviews are my own opinions!

Review of The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater Lyndsey's Book Blog