The Raven King

For years, Gansey has been on a quest to find a lost king. One by one, he’s drawn others into his mission: 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.

Nothing dead is to be trusted. Now the endgame has begun. Nothing living is safe.

Dreams and nightmares are converging. Love and loss are inseparable. And the quest refuses to be pinned to a path.

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For some reason I left it over a year between reading Blue Lily, Lily Blue and The Raven King.

I am bad at finishing series. There are several reasons for this, I think. Endings are disappointing in the majority of cases, and I prefer living in a world where what ultimately happens to the characters I’ve spent 2+ books getting to know is as yet undefined. If I don’t know how they end up, then I don’t have to live with that nagging sense of dissatisfaction that comes with finishing most book series. I also didn’t want anyone to die, and was almost certain that someone was going to, so put off reading for that reason as well. Kind of stupid – the character is no less dead for me not having read about it yet, but it makes me feel better somehow. I stopped watching Jane the Virgin a few episodes before Michael died. I just didn’t want to see it. I know they told us he was going to die very early on in the first season, but it went so long with him not dying I sort of stopped believing it.

You see why I took me so long to get to The Raven King.

Leaving it so long was a mistake. It’s a plot heavy series and it took me half the book to reacquaint myself with Henrietta and its various magical complications. This might be why, despite my love for this series, I didn’t enjoy its finale as much as I’d hoped I would.

Overall (though, sadly, for me, it did not escape the end-of-the-series-disappointment syndrome) I really enjoyed The Raven Cycle. In a market where a lot of the bestselling series lack originality, it carved a space for itself where it examined class, gender, sexuality, family and grief against a backdrop of a magical world so atmospheric that whatever train or bus I was on at the time of reading fell away. There was only Henrietta, 300 Fox Way and Cabeswater and I was wandering through them in real time.

I adore the way Stiefvater uses language. While reading these books I could really feel how much she enjoyed writing them. As each larger than life new character arrived (Laumonier? Really? Because Piper just wasn’t enough?) I felt like I could see her at her keyboard, cackling to herself, just revelling in the enjoyment of her own imagination. The way she plays with words and phrases appealed to me, and I loved the repetitive, ‘depending on where you began the story, it was about…’ that peppered the chapters as the heroes and villains of Stiefvater’s world finally converged on the same spot for the novel’s climax.

I loved her characters, and I think that’s where this final instalment disappointed me the most. While we got plenty of face time with the main gang (my ships sailed, I was very pleased), I was saddened by how little time we spent at 300 Fox Way and the almost complete lack of Calla was very upsetting to me. After they spent so much of the previous book trying to find her, I also would have liked to have seen more of Maura and The Gray Man. I just felt that after building a series with such a wonderful array of side characters with their own complicated lives and personalities it was a real shame that they fell somewhat by the wayside in this last one.

Speaking of characters, I was also disappointed in the villain of this book, which was much more a demon without personality than it was Piper, who I really enjoyed in Blue Lily, Lily Blue. Every book in the series has had a very compelling Big Bad, and although the demon in The Raven King was in many ways the most destructive baddie so far, it was also the least engaging, and it’s defeat, despite it all, not that dramatic really.

Though The Raven King ultimately fell a little flat for me, I’ve loved reading this series. Maggie Stiefvater’s unique writing style, funny, weird and complicated characters and stellar magical world building created a saga I know I’ll return to one day. 300 Fox Way is up there with The Burrow in the leagues of favourite fictional family homes.

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Author: Lydia Tewkesbury

25. Loves a good story.

12 thoughts on “The Raven King”

  1. Lovley review ❤ I'm sorry to hear that final book disappointed you a little bit, but I get where you come from. Maybe waiting too long before getting into the last installment wasn't the best thing to do, but I completely get it – all the best things, we never want them to end. I cried reading that Michael reference haha, I am still not over Jane The Virgin and I need that show back. Yes that's very out of topic, but I couldn't resist 🙂
    I have to admit that yes, the author's writing is spectacular and I can't wait to read more from her 🙂 ❤

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  2. Great honest review, Lydia. I have the same issue about series even if I love that they exist and always look forward to the next one. I tend to start the first one of a bunch of series I love and then rarely find the time to read the next one… And with the relatively slower reading speed of mine, I feel like it’ll take me forever to complete series nowadays too hahah Sorry to hear this finale wasn’t as good as you’d hope it was. Hopefully the next book you pick up by this author will prove to be a far superior run that will be worth your time from A to Z!

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  3. Omg Lydia, I honestly have the same thoughts as you when finishing a series. It is really rare when I read a series and am completely satisfied by its ending – that’s why stand-alones are saving graces for me. I’m sad to hear you were disappointed with this one, but it sounds like the overall feeling you got from the series is a good one! I confess, I haven’t read the Raven King, even though I read Blue Lily, Lily Blue when it came out. That’s FOUR YEARS. I’ll have to probably start the series from the beginning to get into it again HAHA.

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  4. OHMYGOD I LOVE THE RAVEN CYCLE SO MUCH. these books are literally one of my favorite series ever! the poetic writing style is so beautiful and gansey being this cute anxious mother of four was just heartwarming. ALSO HENRY!! CHENG !! and how jealous ronan is of his friendship with gansey lololol
    yes, the thing you said about feeling how much she actually enjoys her writing and imagination and story is very, very true. Also lol the depending on where you began the story thing was such a nice addition.
    the big thing lacking in this series felt like the lack of a proper villain throughout the books, y’know? But at the same time i think that the villains in the books were the characters’ own traits and personal problems themselves. and since, every character is somehow, the ‘main character’, (‘depending on where you began the story’), them overcoming/getting through these things that were the big conflict points in their lives, or just finding friends who love and accept and help them go through these things, was the main plot.
    I am so happy to have fund someone who enjoys stiefvater too!!!!
    I would really like to know your thoughts on her latest book, All The Crooked Saints.

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    1. Oh my god I love that theory of who the ‘real’ villain was! That is such an interesting perspective to take on the whole thing – and so true. You have that totally right. The characters were all somehow trapped by their own negative traits and found various ways to ‘defeat’ those traps as they grew up.

      Okay, you have officially blown my mind. Thank you! I haven’t read All The Crooked Saints yet, but I definitely will. I loooove Stiefvater’s writing.

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  5. I can totally relate to series being hard to finish. Especially if you leave it for a while, then it just sort of goes away xD I am also not finishing the Harry Potter books because I don’t want to be done with them, I just want to keep living in that world 😀
    I haven’t started reading this series yet though. Maybe one day 🙂 it’s too bad this one was a little disappointing, but I’ve also heard good stuff about this series 🙂

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    1. Oh I so feel that with Harry Potter. When you’ve read through so many it becomes impossible to say goodbye.

      I still think The Raven Cycle is a fantastic series. I can’t entirely decide if it was the book or me being in a bit of a weird head space when I read it. I would still really recommend it. I know you’re not much into YA, but if you’re ever in the mood it’s one of the best series out there. Steifvater’s writing is magical in every sense of the word.

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