I can safely say that I have found a new favorite author in Maggie Stiefvater. She truly is a master storyteller. Throughout the series, small, subtle hints are given to the reader all along about each and every character, and I have never been more surprised and delighted than I was when reading The Raven King. Although it has its ups and downs, and felt a little rushed towards the end, there are so many wonderful things hidden within the pages of the final book in The Raven Cycle that I can’t want for SyFy’s new series and Stiefvater’s upcoming Dreamer series centered around Ronan.
This review contains quotes and spoilers from the book.
Everything is interconnected. From a tree of tarot cards that links every character together, to the revelation that Gansey has known about his impending death from the very beginning of the series, The Raven King demonstrates Stiefvater’s skill as a writer. All along she has given readers exactly what they want to hear in the form of subtle clues and hints that easily slide by under the radar unless you really pay attention along the way. From clues about Ronan’s sexuality and eventual relationship with Adam, to Noah’s true role in the search for Glendower, and even Blue’s seeming lack of supernatural abilities, every single sentence has a purpose in the series.
Each and every main character feels developed as the series reaches its final goal. As The Raven King progresses, Stiefvater really takes the time to flesh out each character, revealing their inner thoughts, desires, and even unknown and unbelievable facts about them. From Noah’s incredible suffering as a soul that has not been laid to rest, to Blue’s rebellious side, Gansey’s worried side, and Ronan’s compassionate and hopeful side, the Raven group is described beautifully.
It was too cold for fireflies, but a multitude of them glistened in and out of being about the fields nonetheless.
These were his. Fanciful, purposeless, but lively.
Ronan Lynch loved to dream about light.
– excerpt from Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven King
Unlike the other books in the series, The Raven King takes a much darker tone. While the earlier books in the series feature death and destruction during the search for Glendower, death, pain and sadness are key components of The Raven King that is reminiscent of the way in which the Harry Potter novels become progressively darker until all hell breaks loose in the final novel in the series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. The same thing happens here – although we have been warned that Gansey is doomed to die, nothing will prepare you for the events that actually unfold, which range from dangerous acts of possession, to complete and total character breakdown.
Under the torment of an unknown demon, the third sleeper that should not have been woken, all things go to hell as Adam finds himself unable to control his hands and eyes, Noah begins to decay rapidly, and Cabeswater falls ill to corruption. Although the other novels in series were rather optimistic in tone, The Raven King is downright ominous and eerie. Featuring heavy foreshadowing, terrible situations and an overwhelming atmosphere of fear and anxiety, The Raven King will have you turning pages late into the night as the Raven group begins the final leg in the journey to find Glendower.
Despite the fear and pain that color the pages of The Raven King, or perhaps because of it, romance finally begins to blossom. Not just between Blue and Gansey, who have revealed their relationship, but also between Adam and Ronan.
His feelings for Adam were like an oil spill; he’d let them overflow and now there wasn’t a damn place in the ocean that wouldn’t catch fire if he dropped a match.
It was Blue’s shoulder and her collarbone and her legs and her throat and her laugh her laugh her laugh.
It was laughing senselessly into each other’s skin, playing, until it was abruptly no longer play, and Gansey stopped himself with his mouth perilously close to hers, and Blue stopped herself with her belly pressed to his.
– excerpt from Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven King
As if the small snippets of romance weren’t already a great touch, there are so many incredible concepts and chapters hidden throughout the pages of The Raven King. From a trio of brothers who all go by the name Laumonier and act as one person, to a series of chapters in which time stands still at 6:21, and even multiple sections devoted to side characters and perspectives that are markedly different from the rest of the story, Stiefvater pulls out all the stops.
Despite the beauty with which Stiefvater writes, much like the other novels in the series, the action toward the end feels incredibly fast. Futhermore, newly introduced character, Henry Cheng, feels forced and somewhat unnecessary. More than anything, I was annoyed at the speed at which he became close friends with Gansey and Blue, and I found myself infuriated with the fact that he had become such an important aspect of their lives leading up to and following their search for Glendower.
Featuring new characters, heart-breaking situations and unbelievable circumstances, including the corruption of the supernatural, the deterioration of Cabeswater, and the revelation that tree people exist, The Raven King is jam-packed with action, adventure and emotion that is a fitting end for a brilliant series. I can’t wait to see what the Dreamer series has in store for Ronan (and hopefully Adam), and I can only hope that we will hear more about Gansey and Blue later on.