Book Review: The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater

Synopsis

All her life, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love’s death. She doesn’t believe in true love and never thought this would be a problem, but as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.

I want to start off by saying this series as a whole has been a dream, Maggie Stiefvater is a fabulous author, I love the way she chooses to word things, I love how she described people and places and simple objects like a journal. There is a lyrical dream-like quality about her writing which I fell instantly in love with. I was very satisfied and at the same time left wanting after finishing The Raven King. It’s always difficult to end a series and there will inevitably be those who don’t like how the story ends and today I just happen to be one of them.

I will start by saying the most satisfying thing about this book for me was seeing my Ronan and Adam ship set sail. Their relationship development was such a joy to read and they were definitely my favourite part of the whole book. For me they outshined the main romance of the book Blue and Gansey, whose relationship I think ultimately ended up being much less developed and less interesting. The reason for this I believe is that Adam and Ronan are such strong characters and they develop more as characters than Blue and Gansey. I wouldn’t like to accuse an author of favouritism with her characters but it definitely felt like the focus shifted. There is significant changes to Ronan and Adam’s characters from the beginning to the end of the series, Blue and Gansey and Noah I don’t think changed that much in the end.

The most disappointing aspect of this book for me (apart from the end itself) was the loose ends that were left. In a previous review I explained why I liked the lack of explanation but for me when explanations were given they just seemed odd and there was too many questions that I felt needed answers.

First of all was this book started with Blue’s curse – if she kisses her true love he will die. I felt like this was the whole premise of the book but at the end it was just left. Is she gonna kill Gansey if she kisses him everytime? The book said Gansey would die because she was a mirror and something about Gansey being saved by Cabeswater, but this happened again? So by the logic of the first curse she will still kill Gansey but I wouldn’t know as this wasn’t explained.

Then we had the three sleepers who were mentioned a lot in book three but as we turned out this simply wasn’t true. Why was this even a thing when there clearly wasn’t three sleepers? We were told over and over again Gansey was meant to wake one of them. He never “woke” anyone who had been asleep. Furthermore Gansey’s weird ability to say what he wants to happen wasn’t explained. Unless you consider that everything he was able to command was a product of Ronan’s dreams so it would make sense that Gansey had the same power in Ronan’s dream that he had over Ronan. Again I don’t know for sure.

Finally we have Ronan himself, most of the magical realism in this book was based on psychic abilities, fortune telling and tarot card reading. How is it that Ronan can take things from dreams? A power so different to what has been described within the realms of normal within the book. This question is absolutely VITAL when you consider that Ronan is directly responsible for about 80% of the plot. It was never explained why Niall could do it and Ronan can do it but not Declan. For me this was the most important thing as without this explanation the books become a random series of events accidentally orchestrated by Ronan. These are just a few of the many questions and loose ends I was left with when finishing this book.

I also felt there was a lot of extra side characters and plot that was introduced only to be ignored and amounted to nothing by the end. For example Henry Cheng, I have no idea why I was reading about him, his mother, his dumb bee or his kidnapping. It was like he was replacement Noah and the replacing had to be done quickly. I liked Henry, I liked him a lot,  but I wish he had been more carefully woven into the story, and I would have liked him more if Noah hadn’t disappeared for Henry to appear. Henry’s friendship with Gansey was so forced I was convinced he was doing his mother’s bidding and was gonna turn on them all any second.

I have mixed feelings about the ending on the one hand I kind of loved what happened when they discovered Glendower and what that meant in the end. This element of realism was a really nice touch and showed that it was all about the journey and not the destination. The rushed series of events on the side of a road however, wasn’t what I thought this story was building to. I guess it just fell a bit flat for me, I didn’t get that feeling you get when you are reading a really intense part of the book. I felt like I had stumbled upon the ending without realising I was there.

I didn’t feel like anyone’s story was concluded properly it just kind of ended or maybe the right word was paused. I have no idea what happened to Maura, Calla, The Gray Man, Noah, Artemius etc. This may have been deliberate by the author to allow for more books, but I feel like the story of the Raven King should have ended, even if there are more adventures and stories to be told in this world.

Rating: 3/5 stars

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