I am not sure how Maggie Stiefvater does it but every time I read one of her books I fall a little bit more in love with her writing. To say that I enjoyed The Raven Boys would be a gross understatement. I absolutely loved every minute of it and was so disappointed when I got to the end (and so relieved that I waited until the second book The Dream Thieves was released – not that this was a deliberate decision, just how it worked out).
The Raven Boys is a hard book to describe. It is about a girl called Blue Sargent who has been warned by her psychic family (and every other psychic that has crossed her path for that matter) that she is fated to kill her true love if she kisses him. Blue believes this foretelling but is not concerned as she has no intention of ever falling in love. However, when she accompanies her aunt to a graveyard on St Mark’s Eve (where her family goes every year to find out the unfortunate souls who will be passing within the next year) she sees and converses with the spirit of a boy called Gansey. Blue, unlike the rest of her family, is not psychic (although she has an unusual quality in that her presence boosts other people’s abilities), this has unfortunate implications – it means he is either her true love or she has killed him.
Blue is distraught at this turn of events but she is not the only one to witness this event. Unbeknownst to Blue, a boy is listening in on this exchange, using recording equipment designed to pick up on paranormal activity. This boy is obsessed with finding the legendary ‘sleeping’ body of long-lost Welsh king Owain Glendower – an event that has been prophesied to grant the finder his greatest wish. This boy, Richard Campbell Gansey III, is one of the elite Raven Boys – what the rich students who attend the nearby private boys school Aglionby Academy are dubbed by the townsfolk of Henrietta, Virginia.
Blue has always despised these entitled and snobby Raven Boys and when she finds out that the mysterious Gansey is one of them, she is inclined to not get involved. Yet she is drawn to Gansey and his friends; moody and dangerous Ronan, quiet Noah, and Adam – a local boy who develops feelings for Blue and Blue for him. It seems their paths were meant to cross – it is only when Blue becomes involved that their search for Owain Glendower starts to yield real results.
Although Blue is arguably the character given the most focus, the story is told from a few other different perspectives – notably Adam and Gansey himself – though other characters get a chapter or two here and there. I loved Blue as a character. She was quirky and eccentric and not in the least bit apologetic about it. She was always just herself and would not be manipulated into being anything else. The four Raven Boys are arguably what the heart of the story is about. Each of these four friends are very different but their bond of friendship and their love for each other is really what drives the narrative.
It is hard trying to describe the plot without given too much away but suffice it to say that this book has many twists and turns and like the rest of Maggie Stiefvater’s output, has the ability to take the reader completely and utterly by surprise. The antagonist was obvious fairly early on but the entire story surrounding them ended up being a complete shock – I really did not see certain plot twists coming. Bravo Maggie Stiefvater – I usually have a nose like a bloodhound for these sorts of things but the mystery stayed that way for me right up until the eventual reveal.
The book was slow-paced but this only enhanced the story rather than detracting from it. It gave the reader a chance to get to know and understand the characters. I was really sucked into their individual stories and I think that this series has the potential to become one of my all-time favourites.
Quotes I like:
“Gansey had once told Adam that he was afraid most people didn’t know how to handle Ronan. What he meant by this was that he was worried that one day someone would fall on Ronan and cut themselves.”
“You are being self-pitying.”
“I’m nearly done. You don’t have much more of this to bear.”
“I like you better this way.”
“Crushed and broken,” Gansey said. “Just the way women like ’em.”
“She wasn’t interested in telling other people’s futures. She was interested in going out and finding her own.”
“I guess I make things that need energy stronger. I’m like a walking battery.”
“You’re the table everyone wants at Starbucks,” Gansey mused as he began to walk again.
Blue blinked. “What?”
Over his shoulder, Gansey said, “Next to the wall plug.”