Blue Lily, Lily Blue, Maggie Stiefvater: Book Review

blue lily lily blue maggie stiefvaterScholastic Press / Maggie Stiefvater
Blue Lily, Lily Blue Book Cover Blue Lily, Lily Blue
The Raven Cycle
Maggie Stiefvater
Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance
October 21, 2014

Blue Sargent has found things. For the first time in her life, she has friends she can trust, a group to which she can belong. The Raven Boys have taken her in as one of their own. Their problems have become hers, and her problems have become theirs.

The trick with found things, though, is how easily they can be lost.

Friends can betray.
Mothers can disappear.
Visions can mislead.
Certainties can unravel.

Blue Lily, Lily Blue, the third novel in The Raven Cycle series by Maggie Stiefvater, starts off slow, mimicking The Raven Boys by offering readers an extensive look into the lives of four teenagers living in the increasingly magical town of Henrietta, Virginia. As Gansey, Blue, Ronan, and Adam continue to make their way closer to uncovering the secrets revolving around Glendower, a coveted Welsh king believed to be buried along a line of pure energy, the series takes a darker turn as a few of Ronan’s secrets are revealed, Blue discovers that she’s not as normal as she has been lead to believe, and the Gray Man turns out to be a helpful ally.

This review contains some spoilers and quotes from the book.

Maggie Stiefvater continues to pull off incredible storytelling skills with Blue Lily, Lily Blue, which, aside from having an incredibly endearing title, is full of mystery from the very beginning. Starting with a captivating prologue, in which multiple points of view suitably subtitled Above, Between, and Below provide a different perspective on the world, the third novel in the Raven Cycle series takes a stab at unraveling the mysteries of the Welsh king, Owen Glendower. Ominous in tone, the prologue hints at the importance of the number three, while providing a warning: “Don’t wake the third sleeper.”

Despite the revelation that Blue’s mother, Maura, has disappeared, claiming to have joined the search for Glendower by leaving behind a single note stating that she was going “underground” at the end of The Dream Thieves, Blue Lily, Lily Blue begins rather calmly. Instead of a frantic search for Maura, the pain and confusion at her disappearance manifest in the form of emotions. Setting the tone for change that continues throughout the novel, the mysterious disappearance of her mother reveals a new side of Blue – one that is incredibly angry and emotional.

As Blue, Gansey, Ronan, Adam and Noah immediately make the connection between “underground” and the magical forest of Cabeswater, the raven group makes their way to the forest’s newest addition, an ominous looking cave. Tensions rise as the previously unexplored cave leaves them with unanswered questions as a deep, dark hole makes it impossible to continue with their exploration. Unsure of what to do next, Gansey invites his long-time acquaintance, an English Professor and supernatural researcher named Malory, to Henrietta in the hope of finding new clues that will lead them in the right direction where Maura and Glendower are concerned.

When the dangerous Colin Greenmantle appears in Henrietta in order to fulfill the vacant role of Latin teacher at Aglionby in a situation that is reminiscent of the cursed post of Defense Against the Dark Arts Professor at Hogwarts, which proves to be a running joke in the Harry Potter series, the quiet supernatural town faces a variety of new problems.

From Ronan’s desire to get revenge against the man responsible for the death of his father, to Adam’s increasing powers as a psychic, the raven group must deal with a number of minor obstacles including the near death of Gansey, a court date with Adam’s father, the introduction of a mysterious, yet insane woman, and the disappearance of Persephone, a relative of Blue’s and mentor to Adam.

As you continue to learn more about the characters, it becomes clear that all of them have hidden secrets. Although Noah and Ronan have had their fair share of secrets, new details reveal that not everything is as it seems. Even the characters themselves begin to realize that they do not know everything about one another. From Gansey’s acute anxiety, to Ronan’s dream creations, and even a bit of romantic interest between Ronan and Adam, Stiefvater makes it clear that there is still much to learn about each and every character in the series.

This noisy, lush religion has created him just as much as his father’s world of dreams; it seemed impossible for all of Ronan to exist in one person. Adam was beginning to realize that he hadn’t known Ronan at all. Or rather, he had known a part of him and assumed it was all of him.

Gansey thought of how strange it was to know these two young men so well and yet to not know them at all. Both so much more different and so much better than when he’d first met them.

– excerpt from Maggie Stiefvater’s Blue Lily, Lily Blue

Just as the main characters have secrets, so too, do the more minor characters. Malory, although he appears scholarly and all-knowing, has trouble with “anxiety”. In other words, he has been misdiagnosed as incredibly anxious because he has supernatural abilities that allow him to see the auras of others. Although Malory does not do much throughout the course of Blue Lily, Lily Blue, he does offer a bit of comic relief, which seems to be his role throughout the series (so far).

“Blue,” Blue corrected. “Oh, yes, you are blue,” Malory agreed. “How perceptive you are. What was the name? Jane? This is the lady I spoke to on the phone all those months ago, right? How small she is. Are you done growing?”

– excerpt from Maggie Stiefvater’s Blue Lily, Lily Blue

Meanwhile, Stiefvater continues to create an inviting atmosphere. Although the supernatural events and hidden secrets certainly capture your interest, the mysterious town of Henrietta becomes more and more inviting as the series progresses, despite the crime, danger and death that take place over the course of the Raven Cycle.

Henrietta and her environs were a paint box of colors. Green hay fields, golden cornfields, yellow sycamores, orange oaks, periwinkle mountains, cerulean cloudless sky.

– excerpt from Maggie Stiefvater’s Blue Lily, Lily Blue

Just as Adam and Ronan put a plan in motion to rid the supernatural town from the danger of Greenmantle, a mysterious death sets the final stage in the search for Glendower in motion. The raven group decides to enter Cabeswater with the intention of exploring the seemingly never ending hole, while Greenmantle’s wife proves to be more of a threat than he is. As the race to reach the sleeping inhabitants of Cabeswater begins with danger lurking in ever corner, magic is revealed, Maura is found, and the chance of a lifetime awaits as a single sleeper lays in wait at the bottom of the magical cavern.

While Blue Lily, Lily Blue starts off slow, Stiefvater takes the time to develop the characters, introducing hidden secrets, incredible back stories and potential romantic relationships. As the search for Glendower continues, things become more dangerous, with the pace picking up significantly in the final third of the book. With the ominous warning in place from the very beginning that makes it clear that the third sleeper should not be bothered, tensions rise as an ominous epilogue leaves readers hanging in the balance. With the sheer amount of questions left up in the air, I will be picking up the final novel, The Raven King, as soon as possible.

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Melissa Ratcliff
the authorMelissa Ratcliff
Senior Staff Writer
Reader, Writer & Translator. Cats, books and video games are my life.