Title: The Raven King
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Published: April 26, 2016
Genre: Fantasy/Young Adult
Length: 439 pages
Nothing living is safe. Nothing dead is to be trusted.
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.
Brief warning: this review will be more on the spoiler-y side, and while I’ll hide specific spoilers as usual, I won’t be hiding the more general spoilers (aka, which couples end up together, etc.)
I can’t express how thankful I am to Scholastic for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Seriously. Thank you, so, so much.
It’s been a long time since I gave a book a 5 star review, but God. God, this book deserves all of it. This series has genuinely been a gift, and I cannot thank Maggie Stiefvater enough for the magic she has woven with her words. Blue, Gansey, Ronan, Adam, and Noah aren’t characters that I will ever forget – I could never forget characters that are so alive.
The Raven King’s cover is stunning. BLLB’s cover is still my personal favorite, but I have no complaints about TRK’s – it’s especially beautiful in person, because all the little details in the cover are really makes it so gorgeous.
By the way, I completely changed my mind about the covers of The Raven Boys and The Dream Thieves – seeing the covers in person does not compare to seeing them online at all. In person, the covers were stunning.
Will I ever stop using the word ‘magical’ when describing Maggie Stiefvater’s writing? No, no I won’t. Throughout this entire series, Maggie has only progressively impressed me with her pacing (seriously – Maggie is the master of the ‘slow burn’), plot depth and complexity, character development, and her lyrical, almost otherworld-y writing style. Maggie manages to weave her words together so beautifully without it being what I’d consider ‘flowery’, and without it being obnoxious and pretentious. Her writing style, and therefore the writing style of TRK and this entire series, is so distinct – and I’d like to think I’d recognize it anywhere.
I adore all the characters in The Raven Cycle. They’re, by far, my favorite thing about this series. I could probably just read a series about the raven gang eating gelato all day and be perfectly content.
Starting with the gang – Blue, Adam, Ronan, and Gansey were written just as beautifully as usual. It amazed me, how in each and every book of this series, Maggie manages to write the development and progression of these characters so well. You would think there’s no more room left to grow, but both Blue and Gansey became so much more self aware in different ways, and both Adam and Ronan began to heal.
The obvious bromance and love between Ronan and Blue in this book made me extremely happy, and was so adorable in a way that was very unique to the two of them.
Finally, Ronan said, “Jesus God, Sargent. Do you have stitches on your face? Bad. Ass. Put it here, you asshole.”
With some relief, Blue lifted her fist and bumped it against his.
Henry Cheng was also introduced in this book as a more major character, and I honestly loved reading about him. I thought the history that Maggie gave him brought so much more to this book, and I loved how much he wanted the raven gang to trust him.
I did notice, though, that there was a lack of Noah in this book – reasonably, given the circumstances, but I would have liked to see more of him, and would have especially liked to see more interaction between him and Blue, Gansey, Adam and Ronan. <spoiler> I think it could’ve helped to provide more closure for when Noah finally passed on for good. I always loved Noah. </spoiler>
I can’t complain about anything when it comes to this plot. Everything was wrapped up so perfectly, but Maggie gave us plenty of new twists and turns (as usual) to hold onto. From the darkness afflicting Cabeswater, to Laumonier and the other collectors, and to the ending of the hunt for Glendower – the combination of all these things kept me on the edge of my seat.
When it comes to the end of the hunt for Glendower, <spoiler> my heart honestly plummeted along with theirs when I realized that Glendower had been dead all along. But upon thinking about it, I realized that I couldn’t really imagine it ending in any other way. This quest had started off as one for Glendower, but it ended as their own – it was theirs, and its ending had to be wholly theirs. Not the result of a wish granted by a Welsh king. </spoiler>
A huge reason as to why I was so terrified to read this book was, obviously, Gansey’s death. <spoiler> Thankfully, Maggie decided to have mercy on us, and I couldn’t be happier with the way things turned out: Cabeswater undoes itself (well, technically, its physical manifestation at the time) to give Gansey a new body – a second chance. </spoiler>. It all left me with a sense of closure, which is all I could ask for.
I can’t even express how much I’ve wanted Pynch to happen since reading The Dream Thieves – Adam and Ronan complement and balance each other perfectly, and <spoiler> their kissing scene was absolutely electric. I think I reread it at least 3 times. And it wasn’t even just the scene where they finally kissed – it was everything leading up to that, every single perfectly orchestrated moment that Maggie wrote that built up to that kiss. Every single touch, every smile, every laugh and every glance had me wondering when the last time was that had me wanting a couple to end up together so badly </spoiler>. We all saw Bluesey coming, but I’m not sure if any of us expected Pynch. And I loved that – I loved the initial surprise that accompanied Pynch, which was immediately followed by a sense of it all making sense, and it being so right.
I entered this series with the knowledge that Blue and Gansey would end up together – since Maggie literally tells us so. However, I didn’t expect their romance to be written the way it was written at all. I didn’t expect it to be so intense and deep, and for them to have such a genuine emotional connection. I didn’t expect to believe in it as strongly as I do. I, personally, don’t believe in the idea of everyone having a single true love. But Bluesey makes the idea compelling.
In all honesty, when it comes to technical aspects, The Raven King doesn’t get a solid 5 stars – but all the little flaws and problems pale in comparison to the beauty of this book, and this series, as a whole, which is why I gave it a 5 star rating. Please, please do yourself the favor and read this series. The Raven Cycle is anything but forgettable, and it’s a forever favorite of mine – right next to the Harry Potter and Throne of Glass series. I adore everything about it – all its love, all its magic, and all its strangeness.