BONUS BOOK: The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater

“He was a book, and he was holding his final pages, and he wanted to get to the end to find out how it went, and he didn’t want it to be over.”

Genre: Fantasy, Adventure, Fiction

Book Jacket Synopsis: “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 life; 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. In its starred review of Blue Lily, Lily Blue, the previous book in The Raven Cycle, Kirkus Reviews said, “Expect this truly one-of-a-kind series to come to a thundering close.” The thunder has now arrived in Henrietta, Virginia – along with death, desire, revelation, and a brutal truth. With The Raven King, Maggie Stiefvater completes a masterpiece.”

Review: What a conclusion! The Raven King was everything I have come to expect from Stiefvater. As a demon begins to wreak havoc on Cabeswater and Henrietta, Gansey, Blue, Adam, and Ronan must fight not only to protect themselves, but also to protect the magical place they have come to love. At the heart of the storyline remains the quest for Glendower. Once again, I found myself completely enraptured by the characters and relationships they shared. I feel like I’ve truly come to know them in the week I’ve spent reading this series. For example, the following quote by Maura perfectly sums up what life is like at 300 Fox Way:

“I’ve brought home dead people. Cancel every appointment! Hang up your phones! Orla, if you have a boy here, he’s gotta go!”

I think Ronan and Blue’s friendship also progressed more in this book than in any other, as they finally realized that they were “different brands of the same impossible stuff.” Their interactions added some necessary comic relief to the dialogue:

“No homework. I got suspended,” Blue replied.

“Get the fuck out,” Ronan said, but with admiration. “Sargent, you asshole.”

The heart of The Raven King remained character relationships, but I did find that, logistically, I was left with many, many unanswered questions. Such as (spoilers ahead):

-Why was Glendower dead when Gwenllian was able to stay awake and alive for over 600 years? Was it due to a mistake by Artemus?

-Who was the second body in Glendower’s tomb?

-Who are the three sleepers? At this point, the only clear sleeper I see is the demon. Gwenllian was never asleep, Glendower was never alive… Who are the sleepers?

I also felt myself resisting the addition of Henry Cheng to the group. While I did end up liking him as a character, I don’t feel like he was a necessary addition and I’m sure that a majority of Raven Cycle fans will not like Stiefvater’s attempt to add one more member to the crew so late in the game. Was he added to the storyline as a replacement for Noah? And speaking of Noah, I don’t feel like his final death was given enough attention by Blue, Gansey, Adam, and Ronan. Indeed, he is never openly forgiven for attacking Blue (granted, he did so while possessed by the demon). Overall, Noah ended up feeling like an afterthought throughout The Raven King, which I think is a disservice to his character. I would have much preferred for Noah to have a larger role in The Raven King and for Henry to be omitted. The truly shocking thing is that, in spite of these many unanswered questions and minor grievances, I still have to give The Raven King a four-star review. It is a testament to the incredible feat Stiefvater has accomplished: creating a cast and story so richly intricate that I have no choice but to highly rate the final installment. There are scenes and characters that will stay with me forever. For example, I don’t think I will ever be able to forget the demon’s attempt to unmake Ronan at the end of the book. And Ronan, ever the fighter, fights back by dreaming up the most beautiful and magical things he can imagine. I will certainly miss having a window into the lives of Blue, Gansey, Adam, Maura, Mr. Gray, Persephone, Calla, Orla, Orphan Girl/Opal, Chainsaw, and Ronan. I will miss Ronan most of all. But if the hunch I have right now is accurate, the Raven Cycle series will only get better with time.




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