Continuing the story as if there was never a break between books, The Dream Thieves, was everything that I could have hoped for in a sequel to The Raven Boys. From the small parallels in style that are reminiscent of Patrick Rothfuss, to continued character development and surprising twists, Maggie Stiefvater is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors. Using incredibly detailed prose that pulls you into Henrietta, Virginia and into the lives of a group of young adults on a quest for a mysterious Welsh king, Stiefvater is a master storyteller.
When I started The Raven Cycle series, I planned on keeping my reviews spoiler free. With The Raven Boys, I worked hard to keep plot details out of the review, as I did not want to spoil the many mysteries and secrets hidden within Stiefvater’s beautifully crafted pages. While I was able to manage this feat with the first novel in the series, it will be impossible to do so from now on, as so many wonderful things happen within The Dream Thieves. As the plot thickens, the characters develop tremendously, supernatural events skyrocket, and new and unexpected characters enter the mix as Gansey, Ronan, Adam, Noah and Blue continue searching for Owen Glendower, a mysterious Welsh king believed to be sleeping beneath the surface of a powerful energy source.
This review contains spoilers and quotes from the book.
While I was astounded with Maggie Stiefvater as a writer after reading The Raven Boys, nothing could have prepared me for the prologue and epilogue within The Dream Thieves. Featuring Ronan’s perspective, which is entirely absent from the first novel, both touch on the idea of secrets. Although featuring a new character perspective was unexpected, I was completely thrown off guard as the style for these sections is so much like Patrick Rothfuss’ that I immediately decided that I loved Stiefvater right then and there.
A secret is a strange thing.
There are three kinds of secrets. One is the sort that everyone knows about, the sort you need at least two people for. One to keep it. One to know it. The second is a harder kind of secret: one you keep for yourself. Every day, thousands of confessions are kept from their would-be confessors, none of those people knowing that their never-admitted secrets all boil down to the same three words: I am afraid.
And then there is the third kind of secret, the most hidden kind. A secret no one knows about. Perhaps it was known once, but was taken to the grave. Or maybe it is a useless mystery, arcane and lonely, unfound because no one ever looked for it.
— excerpt from Maggie Stiefvater’s The Dream Thieves
Along with the parallels that can be drawn between secrets and silence, the use of these sections to zero in on one character that is incredibly broken underneath the surface was an incredible touch. From the prologue alone, Stiefvater made it clear that Ronan is a very important character. While he is certainly full of many secrets, there is more about him than appears on the surface. At the same time, bringing the idea of a secret to the forefront set the tone of the novel as a whole, indicating that it would be much darker and decidedly more mysterious than its predecessor.
Ronan’s perspective is not the only new thing in terms of character building present within The Dream Thieves. In fact, multiple new perspectives are introduced which serve to further immerse the reader within the search for Glendower. While Adam, Gansey and Blue continue to have chapters from their own perspectives, so too, do Ronan, the ladies at 300 Fox Way (Blue’s family), and a mysterious new character who is aptly named the Gray Man.
The search for Glendower has become increasingly difficult as the ley line’s energy is waning. Adam, who offered himself up as a sacrifice in order to fully awaken the ley line, promising to be the eyes and ears of Cabeswater, a magically enchanted forest that seems to be where Glendower is hiding, is growing increasingly angry and disconnected from his own body. Meanwhile, Ronan has discovered that he has a magical ability that allows him to pull objects from his dreams. As both boys struggle to deal with the anger and pain inside of them, the small town of Henrietta, Virginia is dealing with a few problems of its own. Along with seemingly random power outages, and reports of multiple break ins, things are getting much darker in the magic infused town, as the Gray Man, a self-proclaimed hit man, is searching for an object named the Greywaren.
Power spikes and a lack of spiritual energy have made the search for Glendower nearly impossible as Cabeswater has disappeared. Leaving the boys with nothing but small clues behind its disappearance, including the intermittent presence of Noah, emotions are running wild as each character begins to deal with physical and emotional baggage related to the mysterious events unfolding in Henrietta.
Since the sacrifice, Adam has experiencing apparitions. As his world starts to turn upside down, he begins to experience strange images, undecipherable whispers, and even amnesia as his anger continues to mount. Feeling insecure about himself, as he has had to work for everything he has ever had, including his expensive tuition at Aglionby, Adam perpetually feels as though everyone is pitying him as he has never known love. Forced to leave his home due to domestic violence, Adam is broken, at best.
Meanwhile, Ronan is struggling with his own inner demons. Full of hatred and anger for himself, Ronan battles his demons on a nightly basis. Quite literally, in fact, as he has the ability to take objects from his dreams. Accidents have led to apparent suicide attempts, as well as the manifestation of night horrors, who seek nothing but Ronan’s death. As Ronan struggles to come to grips with his newfound abilities, he seeks the help of a new character, Kavinsky.
While Ronan and Adam are off battling their own demons, Blue and Gansey are doing the best that they can to help their friends, while also struggling with their own feelings towards each other. Aware of the fact that a prophecy has sealed the fate of Blue’s romantic relationships, as she has been told her entire life that a kiss will kill her one true love, tensions are rising as Gansey and Adam come to terms with the fact that they will never be able to have a true relationship with Blue.
From dangerous encounters with nightmares, to street racing and intense confrontations, The Dream Thieves, much like The Raven Boys, is packed full of action. Revelations concerning Ronan’s life indicate that he has been living in a dream, while incredibly dangerous encounters with drugs, magic and hit men make the search for Glendower damn near impossible until the ley line is restored to full power.
Full of incredible character development in which Blue and Noah share an intimate moment without fear (arguably one of my favorite chapters); Ronan street races with Kavinsky and begins to feel pure joy for once; Adam ventures into the world of the psychics and teams up with one of the more mysterious women of Fox Way; and Gansey shows a bit of a wild side, The Raven Cycle is shaping up to be a young adult series unlike anything I have ever read.
This car was Gansey’s religion, and Ronan found it a worthy God.
Screaming along with the thousands of tiny explosions beneath the hood was a place where Ronan felt nothing but uncomplicated happiness, a dead and empty place in his heart where he needed nothing else.
— excerpt from Maggie Stiefvater’s The Dream Thieves
From the incredibly accurate descriptions given to Gansey’s beloved old Camaro, to tender moments as romance blossoms between a few unexpected characters, The Dream Thieves was an outstanding follow up to The Raven Boys. Full of tense moments, magical revelations, and unbelievable background stories, The Dream Thieves is a must read. Maggie Stiefvater is an absolutely incredible writer who pushes the boundaries of young adult fiction, so much so that The Raven Boys and The Dream Thieves feel like full blown adult epic fantasy novels.