I recently finished The Raven King, the final book in The Raven Cycle Series by Maggie Stiefvater and I smiled and cried and laughed and cried some more until the very last page. When I sat down to write a review for it I found that I couldn’t. I have so much love for this book and this entire series that my review turned into:
“ The writing was incredible, with a magical feel to match that of Harry Potter.
The characters were incredible, I want them all to be my best friends.
The story was incredible, so intense and emotional.
EVERYTHING WAS INCREDIBLE! ”
So instead I thought I’d summarise what makes The Raven Cycle so wonderful and in doing so persuade anybody who hasn’t already begun this gem of a series to go and get started straight away.
The Raven Boys / The Court
I very rarely read books in which I really love every main character there is but for some bizarre reason I found myself caring for practically each and every one in the series. I even enjoyed the antagonists, especially Greenmantle and Piper! But above all The Raven Boys – Blue, Gansey, Ronan, Adam, Noah and one late addition who shall remain nameless – were just phenomenal! Their characters were all so three-dimensional and no single one of them seemed more important than another, just like in their friendship. I wouldn’t be able to pick which one was my favourite and I wouldn’t want to, they felt so real each with their own strengths and weaknesses. Is it weird that I do think of them as my friends?
The Ladies of 300 Fox Way
Consisting of Blue -when not at school, serving pizza, or out hunting Glendower- Maura, Calla, Orla, Jimi, Persephone and more, the ladies of 300 Fox Way were always hilarious to read about. They, like The Raven Boys, all had a very distinct personality and their skills and flaws balanced each other out making them a perfect psychic team! Including the shenanigans of Fox Way added a complete other aspect to the series and I’d give anything to have a cup of tea with them and let them predict my own future!
Fantasy novels can often get a bit same-y in regards to the Magic used but Maggie managed to discover her own unique style of it and presented it in an equally unique way! The little details of it were the parts that had the most power, I mean trees that speak Latin?! ( On a more personal note I would always get incredible excited when I was able to translate the Latin before one of the Raven Boys did!) Over the course of the four books the magic develops quite substantially and comparing it in The Raven Boys and in The Raven King you can see how naturally it progresses, never becoming unbelievable! Sometimes you forget that it is a fantasy series because it seems so unusually normal.
Maggie is such a talented writer. To be able to write characters that are incredibly alive, magic that is so unique, and settings and images that are almost cinematic is astounding. She knows how to balance a modern YA style with a folk-lore style. There’s not much I can say that will justify the magnificence of the writing in this series. Also, thinking about it, these books are oddly feminist. All the ladies are absolutely bad-ass; I mean Blue can always hold her own with the Raven Boys and despite the fact we rarely see her in a friendship with another girl we have all the Ladies of Fox Way to make up for that! That mis-matched homemade family cares deeply for one another and although they know how to get on one another’s nerves they really just want the best for each other.
The Quest / Story
I don’t want to say too much about the story as I’m so worried about giving away any spoilers. ( Fun fact: The Raven Cycle is one of two series which I was not spoiled for by the Internet! ) There is one overarching plot that carries the series on and that’s their quest for Glendower; the team is constantly trying to find clues as to his whereabouts in both time and place. In doing so they create a lot of trouble and so there are also a number of sub-plots, some of which only last the length of one book, other more emotional ones, last a number of books. This only makes their resolutions that much more satisfying! The story is much like the magic in the sense that it progresses very naturally and logically. Even though there is a large aspect of fate and destiny in this series it seems that the characters are what really drive the story on!
This series is one that will stick with me for a very very long time; I expect to be re-reading it multiple times in the future! But having heard there may be a Spin-off series focused on Ronan’s character I am more excited than ever! I wouldn’t want to leave Cabeswater and that magic behind!