Maggie Stiefvater is best known for her Shiver (“Shiver,” “Linger,” “Forever”) trilogy, but I do think her best work is showcased in her succeeding books, the standalone novel “The Scorpio Races” and the ongoing Raven Cycle, with three books out: “The Raven Boys,” “The Dream Thieves,” and “Blue Lily, Lily Blue.”
I loved “The Scorpio Races,” and the Raven Cycle is growing more and more fascinating with each installment, with lots of characters to fall in love with and a strange and beautiful world to explore. The series is an unusual mix of paranormal and fantasy, with a dash of mystery, romance (of course), and all the awkwardness of growing up.
The Raven Cycle features a small-town girl named Blue, the town psychic’s daughter, who joins the “raven boys” Gansey, Ronan, Adam and Noah in their quest to awaken the sleeping Welsh king Owen Glendower. Beyond that basic premise it gets more difficult to explain (even if I wanted to, that might take me all day, not to mention the truckload of spoilers!) so I’ll leave you with that (or read my Raven Boys review if you need more info) .
I finished the third book, “Blue Lily, Lily Blue” after Christmas (after pausing halfway through the book a couple of months back), moving it back up my priority list because I attended a book blogger dinner with the Scholastic folk and I had to keep bleeping Tarie out because she was dropping spoiler bombs all over the place!
Anyway, what I like most about this series is the world building, which has an extraordinary level of detail especially as the boundaries on reality become less and less defined. It’s always been one of her strengths, and I’ve come to expect it from her writing, but this series just hits it out of the ballpark, with a complexity that just leaves me in awe of her talent. Stiefvater’s lyrical writing is another treat, though even I would say it borders indulgent at times, but it constantly surprises (oh, the revelations!), and draws you in deeper as you read further into the series.
And while I’ve loved Blue from the start, and I’ve always carried a torch for Gansey (because, geekiness always wins me over, even while apparently, everyone else is on Team Ronan! :P), I am nevertheless amazed at the characters that Stiefvater spins out. I’ve never particularly liked Ronan, or Adam for that matter, but the way they’ve been fleshed out just makes them so real, and they’ve stepped up to play bigger roles (bigger than Gansey, even) in the series and I thought that was quite a feat. Even the villains (my current favorite is the Gray Man, if anyone would care to discuss. He’s such a wonderfully-written character! :p), down to the minor characters (even the raven Chainsaw is a constant fascination), are a joy to read, with thoughtful little nuances that make them jump right off the page.
Book 4 (still untitled) won’t be out until October, so you have time to read through the first three books. If you’re looking for a current, well-written YA series to
consume you really sink your teeth into, the Raven Cycle is my best bet.
Wallpaper art by Maggie Stiefvater
The Dream Thieves 4.5/5 stars; Blue Lily, Lily Blue, 4/5 stars (ARCs courtesy of Scholastic).