Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Review: The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater

Cover of The Raven King, featuring the stormy blue silhouette of an Irish Elk surrounded by ravens in flight.
I attempted to review the first three books of the Raven Cycle, with varying degrees of success, so I figure I ought to make an effort with the finale as well. Preserve some continuity and all that.

Plus, THE RAVEN KING forced me to expand my Top 12 list into a Top 161. It’s serious between us, y’all, and I’d like to mark the occasion.

At the same time, though, this was a 6-star read. 5 stars is my “I loved it to the point of incoherence and/or verbosity” rating. 6 stars dials the incoherence angle right the hell up, especially when we’re talking about a highly anticipated finale I really, really don’t want to spoil for y’all.

So we’re taking the Short, Gushy, Ungrammatical route, with the understanding that I might imply some stuff about the other three books but I won’t get all, “OMG LEMME DESCRIBE THIS EXTREMELY VITAL SCENE” on you.

The Short, Gushy, Ungrammatical Version

OMG OMG OMG YOU GUYS I’m writing this a week after I finished the book and it’s still with me it’s gonna be with me foreverrrrrr that’s how I knew I had to expand my Top 12 the best books are the ones that never really leave you and this is one of the BEST BOOKS like this one’s got all this stuff about where stories start and interconnectedness and it hit me hard in spoilery ways and also there’s kissing you knew there was gonna be kissing I promise at least two thirds of the kissing is not in any way distressing and OMG HENRY I was like okay whatevs let’s spend more time with this Henry guy who likes student government and then three seconds later I was like FUCKING HENRY, MAN I spent a lot of this book screeching FUCKING [CHARACTER NAME], MAN which is what I shout when I’m pleased also I’m weirdly proud of Declan (FUCKING DECLAN, MAN) and please be aware I view Matthew as basically a human puppy and also FUCKING CALLA, MAN Calla is the best let’s give Calla a medal and maybe a lifetime supply of bacon because she likes bacon this is further proof Calla is a master of generalized awesomeness and not taking any bullshit I don’t even know where to start gushing about all the main characters I love them very much they spend all four books realizing things about the world and each other and themselves and IT IS THE BEST THING I WILL NEVER BE OVER IT I HIGHLIGHTED SO MANY PASSAGES my very favourite thing is how you meet them and they're obviously the Rich One the Poor One the Surly One and the Girl and yet Stiefvater refuses to let that be all they are or ever will be y’all know Ronan is my favourite but I’ve realized Blue is my other favourite TEAM BLUE TEAM BLUE TEAM BLUE and omg the ending I cried and I won’t tell you whether it was good crying or bad crying I can see why some people are unsatisfied because yeah there are some loose ends but they're good loose ends for me the whole thing was FUCKING PERFECT also Robo-Bee is way too cute is it weird I find it cute whatevs it’s adorable and I have a lot emotions about Noah as everyone knew I would and oh y’all I’m beyond grateful to Lu for reccing this series to me in the first place and to Jenny and Ana and Teresa and Aarti and Shaina and Janani and Heather for gushing about the books with me on a regular basis this was a marvellous experience to begin with and y’all made it so much more fun and funny and heartbreaking and I want to thank Maggie Stiefvater too but I feel weird about tweeting compliments at people I don’t actually know so I’m just gonna put my thanks here instead THANK YOU MAGGIE STIEFVATER THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU now I’m gonna need those of you who haven’t yet discovered the Raven Cycle to read THE RAVEN BOYS, stat, especially those of you who are young people I'm so glad y'all have books like this I wish I'd had books like this when I was a teenager anyways read this series then come find me and tell me how much you love it I'm serious you can always tweet your Raven Cycle thoughts at me always and always and always.

The Nonexhaustive List of Bits I Liked

Simply because I want to list 'em out and thereby keep the celebration going.

Drawing on the whole series in nonchronological order, with some attempt made to a) avoid spoilers, b) not just focus on Blue and Ronan, and c) gloss over most of the scenes that made me cry really hard2 (because most of them are spoilerish), I especially enjoyed the bit where:

  • Calla eats only the foods that contain bacon
  • the teenagers eat gelato together and BAM! They’re all friends
  • Blue and Mr Gray have a half-hug
  • Ronan isn’t into lamps
  • Henry tells Gansey he has a Gansey thing to show him, and Gansey thinks there’s no way it’s gonna be an actual Gansey thing, but then it’s totally an actual Gansey thing
  • Blue isn’t sure her childhood failure to eat her greens can be blamed for her current stature
  • Ronan and Noah throw things out the window
  • the Mitsubishi appears, allowing me to whisper “Mitsubishi” to myself
  • the psychics need Blue to work a phone
  • Ronan does unexpectedly nice things for people
  • Noah is the worst at pool
  • Blue realizes she didn’t just invite herself into the story
  • Gansey and Ronan go get orange juice
  • the murder squash song appears
  • Ronan hands Blue a baby animal of some sort
  • the Camaro exists3
  • Blue wants everyone to know she's there with her Raven Boys, but she also wants no one to know she's there with these Raven Boys who aren't hers, no, she certainly doesn't hang out with them every chance she gets
  • Adam realizes he can build himself an awesome life
  • the Vancouver Crowd are Blue’s people
  • Gansey is completely transparent about his quest
  • Ronan tries not to say fuck in front of his mom
  • Jesse Dittley doesn’t bother telling Blue he can see her friend because who the hell says they can see someone who’s standing right there?
  • Gansey defends his love of violently coloured clothing
  • Noah explains why his hands are so cold
  • Gansey and Ronan show up at the trial because OF COURSE THEY WERE ALWAYS GONNA SHOW UP AT THE TRIAL
  • Blue can't leave Nino's, so the boys come see her there
Anyways, yeah, you should read THE RAVEN BOYS. Then read THE DREAM THIEVES. Then read BLUE LILY, LILY BLUE. Then read THE RAVEN KING. Then find me on Twitter so we can engage in some spoiler-free gushing about the large variety of emotions we experienced as we wallowed in these glorious books.

  1. Fully half my Top 16 consists of two series in which ghosts, dreams, and queer assholes feature prominently.

    Please tell me about all the four-book series in which queer assholes do dream magic and hobnob with ghosts. Turns out, I've got a bookish type.

  2. Unfortunately, this means there aren't a whole lot of Adam bits. Adam is the One I Cry Over.

    Don't you think his lack of representation means I don't love him. I will fight you over Adam Parrish.

  3. There’s an orange Camaro in my neighbourhood and I drool over it whenever I see it. Even better, its driver is an older, apple-shaped woman because Camaros are for everyone.

    If I had the money to go splashing out on a car, I'd splash out on either a Mustang or a Camaro. If you have more money than you know what to do with, you can buy me one for my birthday. I want orange or red and I'd appreciate black racing stripes, though that's not strictly necessary (unless it's a 1969 orange Mustang, in which case it is absolutely necessary).


  1. sedfskdjfhzdsigjhzdfo;ighdh

    All of this. ALL OF IT. And more. That is all. <3 <3 <3

  2. Can I tell you, I told a new person that my hands were so cold because I've been dead for seven years, and she loved it and said she was going to start saying it. And I credited Maggie Stiefvater because I am not a plagiarist. But I do say that all the time now. Thanks Noah Czerny.

  3. This has got to be a perfect summary of all of my feelings and I love that there are people out there in the world as incoherent as I am when they're having feelings about books. <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 Also NOAHHHHHHHHHH

    1. With this one, I'm happy to leave the coherence to folks like Jenny and Ana.