“The king sleeps still, under a mountain , and around him is assembled
his warriors and his herds and his riches. By his right hand is his cup,
filled with possibility. On his breast nestles his sword, waiting, too, to wake.
Fortunate is the soul who finds the king and is brave enough to call him to wakefulness, for the king will grant him a favour, as wondrous as can be imagined by a mortal man.”
This book was weird. Weird in a good way, mind you. It was wholly original, had an interesting cast of misfit characters, and was a wonderful mash-up of genres. I wasn’t sure what to think at first, but by the end, I was completely invested in the story and jonzing for more!
The Raven Boys is about a sixteen year old quirky girl named Blue Sargent, who tells the reader right away that she is destined to kill her true love, if she ever kisses him. That’s about as much information as we are given at first. And I must admit, I was a little apprehensive going into this one, because it thought it might turn out to be a melodramatic, teenage paranormal romance. I know! There I go again being a book snob, but come on – sixteen, kissing, outcast, prophesies, true love…ugh. Luckily, though! I ended up being wrong and the book veered into a completely different direction. That’s what I get for assumin’.
Blue hails from an all-female household/family of psychics, who can sense, summon, and sometimes converse with the dead. The women are all very different, but funny and strong in their own ways. All are bonded over their love for Blue, who returns their affection good-natured, if sometimes grudgingly. I loved Blue’s unconventional family dynamic and I thought the psychic thread was an interesting plot point. The other main characters consist of four young men from the posh prep school Aglionby. There is Gansey, the rich-kid, charismatic ringleader, Adam, the scholarship kid with a bad home life, Ronan, the angry one, and Noah, the “smudgy,” quiet one. Together, they make up the Raven Boys and, soon enough, Blue gets involved in their secret shenanigans.
I enjoyed what each character brought to the novel individually and even more so, when their personalities were playing off of each other. Every character, main and side alike, were given room to grow in a natural and memorable way. There is rich tension, laughter, loyalty, and such a sheer sense of camaraderie between the characters, that you can’t help but root for the gang. And root for them you must, when you find out what Gansey and crew are researching so fervently. Here, I was super surprised, because again I expected this to be an enjoyable, but somewhat predictable para-rom story. However, the romance that we were forewarned about is hardly touched on at all. Blue and Adam kind of start dating, and they are very shy and sweet, but at this point in the book, I was much more enthralled with Gansey’s research about ley-lines. I have never read anything like this before and the idea of the teens searching for an ancient king’s lost treasure, with the help of psychic ley-lines, was pretty awesome. It was akin to one of those shows on History or National Geographic, that suck you in with secrets and the promise of world-changing discoveries. I loved the intrigue, the history, the magic, and the sense of rueful adventure in their quest for the missing Welsh king.
For me, the plot (the lost king’s treasure and psychic intervention) and the characters navigating said plot were the best parts of the book. It was exciting and definitely set up a sense of urgency for the following books. It would be remiss not to mention Stiefvater’s writing, however, which was essential in creating such a compelling narrative. Her imagery is fantastic and the eerie, hushed ambiance that lingers throughout this book is wonderful. The whole story seems shrouded in mystery, like you are looking at it through a dusty windowpane at first, until it is wiped clean at the end. This book is marketed as middle-grade to young adult, but there is nothing juvenile about Siefvater’s skillful writing style.
Overall, this book was a very pleasant surprise. It took me just a little bit longer than I wanted to really get into the story, as there were a lot of pieces and players to set up in the beginning. But now, I cannot wait to read the other three books in the series. I need to find out what happens to Blue and her boys! The Raven Boys has a bit of everything: magic, suspense, a murder mystery, the paranormal, a treasure hunt, solid characters, psychics, ravens, a creepy atmosphere, great dialogue, and a little dash of romance. It is a great read and you should definitely check it out!
Keep on reading!