I am an avid book worm. I love stories and books and the smell of books and the feel of a book in my hand, they are like air to me. However, as much as I love them, and however many I have read, there are only a few book series that I have ever been truly excited about. Series I couldn’t stop thinking about long after I’d finished reading, insist other people read because I need someone to share my enthusiasm, become overly emotionally invested in the characters and generally allow it to take over a small part of my life and heart. One of these is Harry Potter, the other is The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater. Don’t get me wrong, there are other series that I enjoyed, other books that I love, but not like this.
The first book in this series is The Raven Boys.
“Even if Blue hadn’t been told her true love would die if she kissed him, she would stay away from boys. Especially the ones from the local private school. Known as Raven Boys, they only mean trouble. But this is the year everything will change for blue. This is the year she will be drawn into the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys. And the year Blue will discover magic does exist. This is the year she will fall in love.”
I’ll admit that I picked it up during my ‘tragic teen romance’ phase, but don’t let the blurb fool you, it’s established pretty quickly that there is more to this story than instalove. In fact, I think this blurb is pretty unfair. When I think about The Raven Boys now, I don’t think ‘Oh that’s when she met Gansey and they fell in love and then had to battle some evil magical villain!’ I think about ALL the characters, about the actual plot! Which, so we’re clear, is not centered around kissing boys.
The boys in question are Gansey, Noah, Ronan and Adam; they are on the hunt for the resting place of the ancient Welsh King, Owen Glendower, who is buried in Virginia, for …reasons. Blue is drawn into this quest when Gansey decides to go for a reading with a psychic, who happens to be Blue’s mother. In this world magic is real, but it’s not the in-your-face, wand-waving, spell casting kind; it’s the subtle feats of everyday magic many people genuinely believe in: Psychics, Tarot cards, Ley lines etc. Actual things happen, real -world issues are addressed, not all of them light and fluffy. This is not your average YA love story. This is why I love this series.
Aside from having actual plot, it is amazingly well written, featuring diverse and interesting characters, each with unique voices and narrative styles. Rereading reveals layers of foreshadowing previously missed, at least by myself, and creates a deeper understanding of early character motivations. This is very much a character driven series and the first book is no exception. The relationships are established well and in no way pertain to anything close to ‘instalove’, in fact Blue dislikes most of the boys for various reasons and actively tries to avoid them. There are also ACTUAL PARENTS in this book. Or something like them anyway. Yes the boys all live alone, but Blue lives with her mother and a whole host of other women (aunts, cousins, aunts cousins) who play a role in raising her and watching over her, a nice change in the world of conspicuously absentee parenting of YA novels. Blue’s relationship with her mother is a central theme of the book and it makes a nice change to read that.
I first read this over a year ago and it has stuck with me ever since, enticing me into multiple rereadings and generally being unable to forget it. It might not the be best one in the series, but it’s a pretty great book non the less.
4 stars ****