I’ll Meet You There

If Skylar Evans were a typical Creek View girl, her future would involve a double-wide trailer, a baby, and the graveyard shift at Taco Bell. But after graduation, the only thing separating Skylar from art school is three months of summer… until Skylar’s mother loses her job, and Skylar realises her dreams may be slipping out of reach.

Josh had a different escape route: the Marines. But after losing his leg in Afghanistan, he returned home, a shell of the cocksure boy he used to be.

What brings Skylar and Josh together is working at the Paradise – a quirky motel off California’s Highway 99. Despite their differences, their shared isolation turns into a friendship and, soon, something deeper.

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I’ll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios is a butterflies-inducing, heart-rending summer romance. With complex families, traumatic backstories and more quirky scene setting than you can shake a stick at – my personal favourite being the Paradise, the movie-music-eighties themed motel Josh and Skylar both work at – it is a YA novel straight from the school of Sarah Dessen and I loved it.

Skylar Evans is desperate to leave the shitty town of Creek View. Unfortunately, just as freedom, in the form of leaving for college, finally appears on the horizon, her life starts to fall apart. Her mother loses her job, relapses into alcoholism and starts dating a creep. Forced to pick up two jobs to keep the lights on for both of them, Skylar is clearly losing the fight to get through to her mother and finds herself faced with a painful choice: leave her mother to ruin her life (again) with her horrific new boyfriend, or give up her dreams in the hope she can save her.

Enter Josh. The arrogant, womanising a-hole Skylar went to high school with breezes back into town after a tour of Afghanistan with the Marines. Except the Josh who returns to Creek View is not the same guy he was when he left. The victim of an IED, he’s making the difficult adjustment back to civilian life having lost a leg and a best friend, suffering the duel effects of his injury, grief and continuous struggle with PTSD.

Skylar and Josh’s lives get tangled up through their jobs at the Paradise Motel and, you guessed it, they fall in luuuurve. The push and pull of their budding romance is delicious, with the dual narrative – it’s like 90% Skylar, 10% Josh – adding authenticity to their growing feelings for each other while also allowing the full complexity of Josh’s PTSD storyline to play out.

This book is full of FEELINGS, from Skylar and Josh’s evolving relationship to Josh’s trauma to Skylar’s beyond frustrating dynamic with her mother, and it is a testament to Demetrios’s writing that I really felt all of it. Whether it was Josh wrestling with what his prosthesis meant for his sex life or tentatively inviting Skylar to dance in the rain it was equal parts devastating and elating reading.

What refreshes me most about books like this is the willingness to dwell is what is Not Okay. The centre of this story is, of course, the romance, but surrounding it are a series of complicated and messed up situations that aren’t necessarily solvable. One of the most difficult and heart breaking lessons of growing up – and I think, probably, life – is coming to peace with the fact that there are some situations that won’t ever be okay, at least not in the form you had always imagined. For Josh, it means coming face to face with the horrors of his war experiences and the devastating losses he has suffered and come out believing he deserves the chance to move forward. For Skylar, it is the very different but utterly awful realisation that sometimes you have to choose yourself or, to paraphrase Mary Oliver, save the only life you can save, even if that means letting go of the only family she has left.

I’ll Meet You There is gorgeously romantic, unapologetically messy, packed with feeling and the perfect read for your literary Valentine’s Day celebrations.

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Renegades

Nova is an anarchist, a girl on a mission for revenge after the heroes sworn to protect her family failed her.

Adrian is a renegade, a boy with extraordinary abilities who believes in justice, and in Nova.

They should be sworn enemies, but Nova finds herself torn between Adrian and the Renegades, and a villain that could destroy them both.

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Renegades by Marissa Meyer is a fun and exhilarating adventure through a world filled with super heroes and super villains – the definition of which really depends which side you’re on. The mainstream narrative dictates that the Renegades are the Good Guys – in charge after putting an end to the bloody age of anarchy many years before. They now govern Gatlon City (full of prodigies, AKA powered people and normies, AKA not really in the story cause, boring) with a bureaucracy entangled iron fist and public opinion 100% behind them – supposedly.

The book opens in dark and dramatic – Meyer-ian, you might say – fashion, with the tragic origin story of Nova, one of our two narrators. Baby Nova witnesses her entire family gunned down in front of her (i.e. not rescued by the Renegades who are supposed to save people from such horrifying ends) before being swept away by her Uncle Ace who just happens to be head of the Anarchist movement.

Then we jump forward ten or so years and 17-year-old Nova is PISSED. Shortly after losing her family, Nova’s Uncle Ace was killed in the aforementioned Renegade’s taking back the city battle and our girl has an axe to grind, a gun and a carefully thought out assassination plan. Her target? Captain Chromium, head of the Renegades and de facto leader of Gatlon City – after, I think, stabbing Ace Anarchy through the head? He carries his helmet around on a spear for public holidays while the crowd cheers about the idea of a man having a pike pushed through his skull.

Not that I’m judging. I live in England where every November 5th we burn effigies of a would-be 17th century terrorist.

Hey, it’s tradition.

All this, and we’ve only just hit the second chapter. If you’ve read and loved The Lunar Chronicles then you know that Meyer knows how to build a politically complicated world. Gatlon City is certainly that, with the war between the Renegades and the Anarchists finished but never really over – especially when the Anarchists are still living in the sewers (surprisingly, nicer than it sounds).

As all powerful as the Renegades certainly seem, opposing worldviews still struggle for dominance. For the Renegades, it’s about order at all costs – even if people are disempowered and afraid, at least they are behaving. Coming into power off the back of so much lawlessness there is a sense with the Renegades that they can accept the world isn’t getting any better so long as it isn’t getting any worse. They fight for Good Enough and for the young people of Gatlon City, that isn’t going to cut it for much longer.

The Anarchists, on the other hand, were all about freedom. Before they came along, prodigies were discriminated against and abused. Ace Anarchy changed all that by tearing down the government and its affiliated institutions – he created a world with no order and no consequences. It wasn’t long before crime and violence filled the hole institutions left behind. Gatlon City became a dangerous place, where, as Meyer says “It became the strong against the weak, and, as it turns out, the strong were usually jerks.”

Aint that the truth.

Ace Anarchy dreamed of a world free from tyranny, and he failed to create that for everyone. But the deeper you get into this book the more prominent the question becomes of whether the Renegades are really any better. Nova, as much as she enjoys having super powers (she can put people to sleep when she touches them. So handy. Imagine the boring conversations you could get out of), believes the world would ultimately be better if super heroes didn’t exist, because, she argues, if people didn’t spend all of their time waiting for someone to come save them, they would be forced to think up ways of saving themselves.

In a book about super heroes and super villains, Meyer is really talking about the real threats to the world – complacency, apathy and indifference. Renegades is about fighting the assumption that, because there are powers at be that are greater than you, you are therefore powerless. Nova believes that powerlessness is a choice that we’re all making, and she’ll give her life to fight for a world where people are brave enough to choose something else.

“They saw prodigies themselves as only good or evil, leaving the rest of humanity somewhere in the realm of neutral.

There was potential for evil everywhere, and the only way to combat it was if more people chose goodness. If more people chose heroism.

Not laziness. Not apathy. Not indifference.”

This entertaining book about teenage super heroes (and their delicious, slow burning romances) asks vital questions about activism, personal responsibility and determination to fight for what you believe in. It looks at whether people can ever join hands across political lines or if ideological divides are too greater gap to bridge.

It also has one hell of a twist at the end that I did not see coming. Bring on book 2!

Strange The Dreamer

TW: Rape

Since he was five years old, Lazlo Strange has been obsessed with the mythical lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to go in search of it. Then a stunning opportunity presents itself – in the person of a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors – and he has to seize his chance or lose his dream forever.

What happened in Weep to cut it off from the rest of the world? What did the Godslayer slay that went by the name of a god? And what is the mysterious problem he now seeks help in solving?

The answers await within Weep. But so do many of more mysteries – including the blue-skinned goddess who visits Lazlo’s dreams…

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Strange The Dreamer by Laini Taylor took me a full month to read, but my slow pace, for once, wasn’t because of a slump; I was simply savouring every second. It’s a well established fact at this point that nobody writes quite like Laini – magic dust coats every page as she crafts odd and enchanting worlds one can’t help but fall into.

“Lazlo felt as though the top of his head were open and the universe had dropped a lit match in. He understood in that moment that he was smaller than he had ever known, and the realm of the unknowable was bigger. So much bigger. Because there could be no question:

That which cast Weep in shadow was not of this world.”

Strange The Dreamer is about two young people trapped within small worlds they are absolutely desperate to escape from: Lazlo “The Dreamer” Strange, formerly monk-in-training now librarian and completely obsessed with finding the lost city of Weep; and Sarai, spawn of long murdered Gods, officially but not actually dead herself, doomed to spend her entire existence hiding in a ruined citadel floating above Weep from humans who would kill her on sight. She has blue skin, so flying under the radar isn’t really an option.

The novel switched effectively between Lazlo’s narrative and Sarai’s, on the ground in Weep and above it inside the citadel while establishing the history of horror suffered by the inhabitants of both.

Far from the magical place of opportunity he had envisioned, Lazlo finds the city crumbling beneath the weight of its painful, bloody history. The central tension of the novel on both sides – Lazlo and the people of Weep and Sarai and the Godspawn of the citadel – is how to move forward. Both groups are defined by the atrocities of the other. For the humans living down in Weep it’s the centuries spent as slaves to the Gods, disappeared, killed and raped at will before being cast back down to Earth when the Gods were finished with them. For the Godspawn, it’s the massacre of the Gods – and most of the Gods’ children – by the humans. Minya, one of the surviving Godspawn is so trapped by the trauma of that day she simply never grew up – she is stuck as the six-year-old girl she was on the day the Gods and their babies were violently murdered in front of her. Meanwhile the citizens of Weep, years after the murder of the Gods, live in literal shadow – the citadel that was (and unbeknownst to them, still is) the home of the Gods hovers above them, forever blocking out the sun.

Strange The Dreamer is a novel about trauma, and how we deal with it as individuals and societies. For the humans, the only way forward they could conceive of was the complete eradication of the Gods, even the babies, who they refused to imagine could grow into anything other than the monsters that their parents were. Equally, the surviving Godspawn can only see the humans as murderous. Survival means revenge and the eradication of the monstrous other.

Well… mostly. There is a level of exhaustion with violence among certain characters in this book. A hope, small at first but growing, and, I think, contagious that there might be another way. But the other way is buried under so much rubble it’s hard to know if those hopefuls will ever manage to uncover it fully.

Strange The Dreamer is a rich, layered novel that explores the grey areas of life. For every character that seems on the face of it villainous, there is a level of complexity within them that prevents the reader from seeing them as purely monstrous (apart from maybe Drave. It’s hard to feel any real sympathy for that guy). The world is magical, curious and tragic in all the ways we have come to expect from Taylor’s work, and the characters – even those we can’t help but dislike – engaging. While very long, the book keeps you hooked throughout – though I could have done without Lazlo and Sarai’s long shared dream sequence – until the shock ending that will have you desperate for book two.

I can’t wait to see what happens next.

Children of Blood and Bone

Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves and Zélie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls.

But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, magi were killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope.

Now Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good.

Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers – and her growing feelings for an enemy.

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I’ve owned a copy of Tomi Adeyemi’s Children of Blood and Bone for a while now. I put off reading it – it was super long and, as I have mentioned approximately 10,000 times during the life of this blog, I’m not much of a fantasy person. I was worried that, at 525 pages, it wouldn’t hold my attention.

Wtf is wrong with me? Did I not consider Adeyemi’s six figure advance? The movie that was optioned, like, IMMEDIATELY? The entire blogosphere’s ecstatic reaction to this story? 

Once again it was proved to me that I should really listen. Children of Blood and Bone is so good. SO GOOD. So good that, even though, as is standard for me at the moment, it took FOREVER to finish, every time I opened the book I was immediately hooked. The kids on the train, the strange gentleman who keeps asking me out on the bus and the biting cold of waiting around for whatever the next public transportation I was catching fell away. There was only Zélie, Amari, Tzain and Inan and their quest to bring back magic/destroy magic in Orïsha.

In many ways, Children of Blood and Bone is nothing incredibley unique. Even in my limited engagement with the genre I could see all of the hallmark tropes: family betrayal, forbidden love (written to sexy, heart breaking perfection I should add), a magic system I will never completely grasp (I thought I had a handle on who did what but then those cancer guys showed up?!), but the West African setting (Adeyemi is Nigerian-American) – for me, anyway – totally refreshed the narrative.

The richly imagined world of Orïsha utterly captivated me – even as it broke my heart. A shadow of its former self, we enter at a time of immense pain. The evil King Saran stole magic from his people, and murdered any adult magi who might fight him in the process. Left are destroyed families with children who were destined to become magi (but can’t now, cause magic is gone, apparently forever…) who are dealing with the dual grief and sorrow of losing a parent – and witnessing the violence and horror of their deaths – and the loss of the future they had been raised to expect. Add to that the steep taxes expected of these families to further punish them for their previous magical affiliations and you have poverty-struck, grief-ridden people struggling to survive and process their trauma in a world that is hostile to their existence.

Adeyemi says in the afterword of Children of Blood and Bone that she wrote the novel as a way of dealing with her own anger and grief at the violence black people experience in the US at the hands of the police. You see this clearly in Zélie’s story as she navigates the discrimination and structural inequality she suffers as a result of her divîner heritage. In addition to the unimaginable trauma she deals with every day after her mother’s horrific death, she lives in a society where violence (including threats of sexual violence) and sexual harassment are daily possibilities at the hands of the kingdom’s guards. The stocks – prison camp, essentially – are an ever-present threat if her father is unable to continue paying the obscene taxes expected of divîner families. In one of the most striking scenes of the book, Prince Inan, (son of King Saran, alternately the best and the worst. It’s complicated.) after a life of privilege and relative protection is forced to physically feel the weight of Zélie’s pain. He is made to understand, in no uncertain terms, that she is afraid all of the time. In much the same way as Zélie cannot escape King Saran, for people of colour there is no escape, no relief from violence (or the threat of violence) and systemic racism – in the US and elsewhere. There is so much emphasis, particularly in the latter half of the novel about the pain Zélie carries with her and this was such an effective – and completely heart-rending – way of illustrating the psychological cost of structural inequality and violence.

What was so striking about this book though, and what ultimately kept me so engrossed was that in addition to being plot-heavy and deliberately political, Children of Blood and Bone was also populated with complex, emotional and unique characters driving the story ever forward. Adeyemi tells the story through multiple perspectives – again, something I usually dislike but here was executed perfectly – of Zélie, Princess Amari and Prince Inan. Each coming together from very different circumstances (Amari and Inan may be siblings but it’s a long time since they’ve seen eye to eye on anything) their distinct voices and journeys add another level of complexity to this already rich story.

Also – the ships. Good lord. Somehow in amongst the trauma and war and magic there is also sexual tension for miles as these characters crash together before, inevitably, they are torn apart. It’s a war, remember? Nobody gets out unscathed.

All of which is to say… book 2, please, Tomi. The sooner the better. Like, I literally can’t wait much longer. WHY have you done this to me?!

To Kill a Kingdom

Princess Lira is siren royalty and revered across the sea until she is cured into humanity by the ruthless Sea Queen. Now Lira must deliver the heart of the infamous siren killer or remain a human forever.

Prince Elian is heir to the most powerful kingdom in the world, and captain to a deadly crew of siren hunters. When he rescues a drowning woman from the ocean, she promises to help him destroy sirenkind for good. But he has no way of knowing whether he can trust her.

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My goal for October is to become a regular blogger again. Sorry for the radio silence. Life got complicated and busy. And then I went to Amsterdam. But in the meantime I read many things, and over the next few weeks I will write about them I promise.

When I was in the midst of a very stressful period, I picked up To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo and it was everything I needed. Christo’s rollicking adventure of murder, love and pirates made for the perfect distraction material. Ruthless siren women, swoonworthy princes and a crew to rival the dregs – yes, I would like a Bardugo-Christo crossover novel, please – as the ocean carries the Saad so does Christo’s writing to her novel’s dramatic, nail-biting climax.

Meet Lira: known as The Prince’s Bain, the siren to end all sirens. Crafted for a life of brutality by her mother the Sea Queen, Lira steals the heart of a prince every year on her birthday. And I don’t mean steal in the metaphorical sense – she’ll rip that sucker right out of your chest and laugh as you bleed. Literally. Your girl keeps hearts under her bed. Lira is vicious and scheming, out to grab (or steal) every opportunity for success life throws her way. Her life has taught her to be ruthless; with a mother who punishes her for showing humanity, she quickly learned she must kill in order to survive. Another way didn’t seem possible… until one day, banished from the sea, stripped of her siren capabilities by her evil mother and tasked with killing the charming Prince Elian with only her newly human means – it did.

Meet Elian: Oh, Elian. The reluctant prince. Like Moana before him, there’s a line where the sky meets the sea and it calls him. Man, does it call. Dubbed by his future subjects The Pirate Prince, all he wants is to sail away from his royal responsibilities. Usually, right into danger. For Elian the Pirate Prince has tasked himself with ridding the world of the sirens. Every heart torn from every chest, Elian takes personally. He cares about his mission almost as much as he dreads his future kinghood – if he can’t defeat all the sirens he plans to die trying. Boy doesn’t want to be tied down to anything, most especially anything royal – that is, until a certain siren princess shows up on his boat. Not that he knows her true identity, of course. That’d be no fun.

Yep, I did just list all the ingredients for the perfect love story.

In many ways, To Kill a Kingdom is a story we’ve all read a thousand times – a disconnected person learns the value of human relationships. It’s about how it feels to be part of a team for the first time – like you’re filling a cup you never even knew was empty. It’s about the fundamental need we all have to feel like we’re part of something – and, once we are, the realisation of how unbearable life was before it came along. It may be a familiar story, but I will never get enough of it. To Kill a Kingdom is a ridiculous story of sirens and magic and princes, but it’s also a universal story of hope that things can be better. Like I said, exactly what I needed. Exactly what we all need, I think.

Never World Wake

Bee hasn’t spoken to her best friends since her boyfriend’s mysterious death. Now, a year later, she needs to face them. They’re beautiful, rich and deadly. She is certain one of them holds the truth about what really happened to Jim.

A whirlwind night leads to a narrowly missed car collision and a sinister man knocking at the door as a storm rages outside, to deliver a world-shattering message.

As secrets unravel and time backbends, the five friends must make a shocking choice.

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So that was three weeks. I apologise.

I am in kind of a weird place with reading right now. I was in a fairly sustained slump (had to give up reading The Idiot but I will get back to it at some point. Does anything ever actually happen? I was around 150 pages in and as yet nothing had) which lifted briefly while I was away so I could read The Closed Casket (a new Hercule Poirot novel by my love, Sophie Hannah) and the book I’m reviewing  today, Never World Wake by Marisha Pessl (Belletrist pick. Amazing, as always), but then I moved into The Accidental by Ali Smith and the slump has descended once again. I think I have the summer blues (that’s a thing, right?). If you have any cheering reading suggestions please throw them my way. I would like to get out of this slump for good.

Anyway. Never World Wake. This book came as a total surprise to me in all of the best ways. It’s the first YA book Belletrist has picked, and it is a stunner. We have ALL of my favourite ingredients: rich boarding school kids (with the obligatory outsider scholarship kid obviously), mysterious death, unreliable characters (all these fuckers do is lie) and magic.

Don’t judge it by its pretty cover. This book is one intense ride.

So we have a bunch of recently reunited rich teens – the aforementioned hedonistic rich kids and Bee, the scholarship student and the “good girl”, torn apart by the mysterious death of one of their group (Bee’s boyfriend), Jim a year prior. They come together for one final night of partying before they all depart for college, and on the way home driving in a collective drunk stupor they almost have a head on collision with a truck.

This is when shit really hits the fan.

They return home to their mansion, only to be visited by a strange elderly man (The Keeper, as we will come to know) who tells them that actually, that collision wasn’t a near miss. It was a direct hit. The five of them aren’t so much home and clear as, in actual fact, lying dead in that car, trapped in something called a Never World Wake. The way to escape? Only one of them can. The group have to unanimously vote on which of their number lives to see tomorrow. The rest of them die forever. In the mean time they are doomed to repeat the same day until they can reach a consensus on which of them will survive.

From this explosive beginning, Pessl takes the narrative in so many winding and shocking directions, with the storyline of the Wake and the mystery of Jim’s tragic death running concurrently, meeting and diverging during the absolute roller coaster ride that is reading this novel. Watching how each of the characters deals with the Wake – from trying desperately to reach a consensus and escape to losing themselves in the distractions that you can find in a consequence-less world that resets every 23 hours – is a fascinating insight into the worst of human psyche in a claustrophobic nightmare about survival at all costs or total self-destruction – depending on who you are.

Nothing in this novel is what it initially appears – what you remember as the grand love story of your life might actually turn out to have been a house of horrors, precious objects become rusted, broken and dangerous on closer inspection and the person you always felt was the strongest and the coolest under pressure? They will be the first one to break.

Pessl’s writing is rich, sensual, poetic and infused with a brutal darkness that really appealed to me. If you enjoyed We Were Liars by E. Lockhart or The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma it’s a pretty safe bet you’ll be into Never World Wake. It’s a truly gripping read.

“We swear we see each other, but all we are ever able to make out is a tiny porthole view of an ocean. We think we remember the past as it was, but our memories are as fantastic and flimsy as dreams.”

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.