The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
(#1 in The Raven Cycle series)
- young adult / paranormal / contemporary
- published by Scholastic on September 1st 2012
- paperback uk version 412 pages
- Goodreads / Amazon / The Book Depository
★★★★★ 5 stars
Blue has spent the majority of her sixteen years being told that if she kisses her true love, he will die. When Blue meets Gansey’s spirit on the corpse road she knows there is only one reason why – either he is her true love or she has killed him. Determined to find out the truth, Blue becomes involved with the Raven Boys, four boys from the local private school (lead by Gansey) who are on a quest to discover Glendower – a lost ancient Welsh King who is buried somewhere along the Virginia ley line. Whoever finds him will be granted a supernatural favour. Never before has Blue felt such magic around her. But is Gansey her true love? She can’t imagine a time she would feel like that, and she is adamant not to be the reason for his death. Where will fate lead them?
This is my first venture into Stiefvater’s writing and I am astonished at how The Raven Boys transcended any of my expectations. A story with characters, plot, and setting that gripped me from the very first lines, the introductory novel to The Raven Cycle quartet is an amazing, intriguing, gripping and all together hair-raising read.
As the book begins the reader is saddled with an awful lot of foreboding. Blue, the lead of the novel, sits in a graveyard with her psychic ‘Aunt’ Neeve on the lookout for the spirits of those who will walk the Corpse Road in the next year (aka die). The only problem is that Blue herself doesn’t have any psychic abilities, she only amplifies the energy of others: and then a boy – Gansey – appears, and his appearance tells her that they are destined for love – or she is destined to kill him. Given her mother’s warning that a kiss shared with Blue’s true love will kill him, this immediately doubles the morbid anticipation as the novel progresses. The questions of how Gansey will die, if Blue will fall in love with him (or somebody else), and whether or not she will succumb to kissing follow the story through to the end. And yet, The Raven Boys is barely about any of these things.
“She wasn’t interested in telling other people’s futures. She was interested in going out and finding her own.”
In a complex weaving of historical legend and myth, the search for ancient Welsh king Glendower and the magical ley lines that cross the country is picked up by Richard Gansey III, two other Raven boys of the local private school – Adam Parrish and Ronan Lynch – and misfit daughter-of-a-psychic state-school-girl Blue Sargent.
One of the finer details of the novel that truly makes it unique is the sensory imagery Stiefvator creates. Every location, every spark of magic, every foggy Henrietta morning can be seen by your very own eyes. The care and attention to detail within is beyond words. It’s a level of atmospheric beauty I’ve never, ever seen before. If a movie is ever made of this (or preferably a Netflix original series) I don’t think it could do the description justice. I don’t think anybody could. It’s my dream to write descriptions this fascinating.
“Their breath came in clouds, and they all looked badly underdressed. Even the colour of their skin looked wrong: too sun-flushed for this colourless winter air. Tourists from another season.”
Moving onto the characters, they completely own the story. After just a few chapters – from their very first introductions, perhaps – I became entirely invested in their futures. Suddenly every worry they have is a worry of yours; every time they feel anxious, or angry, or desperate, you feel it too. Even though I was initially very intrigued by The Raven Boys, when I found out it was a paranormal I was a little put off: that’s because, of the limited selection of paranormal fiction I’ve read, I’ve found them t be riddled with clichés, and not in a good way. The characters, surrounded by the supernatural, feel fake – thankfully those in The Raven Boys do not. They are real, in every sense other than they are not physical beings (sadly). They have their faults, which is surprising given two of them are filthy rich white boys, and are not walking talking manifestations of perfection. Their individual differences set them apart but a love and sense of companionship brings them together. Honestly, they’re squad goals af.
I’m so glad I took the plunge and the ever-present Tumblr posts convinced me to pick up the book. The Raven Boys explores friendship, love, the paranormal, and strength, both externally and from within. With a plot that never stops rolling but doesn’t give away all its secrets at once I cannot wait until I can start the next in the series!
★★★★★ 5 stars
Have you read The Raven Boys, or any other of Maggie Stiefvater’s work? Is this on your TBR pile?