I have loved the Merry Fates for a long time. When Maggie Stiefvater, Tessa Gratton, and Brenna Yovanoff got together and started writing short stories together as the Merry Fates, it was like a blissful literary union that was simply meant to be. I loved their website (merryfates.com), where they each frequently posted new short stories, and I was even so inspired by it that, for a short time, I had a similar website with two close friends (spellboundscribblers.com). I’m hoping that sometime soon we can revive that site, but two of us being in grad school and the other in her senior year of undergrad while all three working full time…well, it just didn’t pan out time-wise.
But are you ready for a major confession? As much as I love the Merry Fates, and I enjoy all of the anthologies they’ve put out together, I have never read any of their individual works. Why not? I’m not really sure. I think I stumbled into loving them while I was majorly on a short story kick, and I just never pursued it past that. A ridiculously stupid excuse, I acknowledge, because I finally picked up Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven Boys, and all I want to do is scream, “HELLO, BEAUTIFUL, WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN ALL OF MY LIFE?”
To which the book would respond, “On the shelf, you idiot. Why don’t you listen when people talk about how good I am?”
Or at least it would if books could speak. So, while it has taken me some time to come around to picking this book up, and even though it’s not a new release (not even remotely close…although book 4 soon will be), let’s go ahead and take a look at why this book is so amazing. Shall we?
Summary (via Goodreads)
“There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve,” Neeve said. “Either you’re his true love . . . or you killed him.”
It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive.
Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.
His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.
But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.
For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.
Things I Liked:
First off, let me point out something from the summary. “Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain.” Sounds like it’s going to be a cut and dry love story, right? Wrong. Blue isn’t “drawn” to Gansey romantically right off, nor really at all other than in some strange visions, and in fact is originally repulsed by him and everything he stands for. So don’t get it in your head that this is some cliche small town girl falls for rich city boy love story, because that’s not even remotely close. And that makes it great.
I’m unable to get this book out of my head mostly because of the literary aspect that Maggie is most known for – her characters. Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, in this book is a completely fleshed out, living, breathing, human being, and you get the sense that you know each and every one of them. Not just Blue and the four Raven Boys. You get to know members of all of their families as well, Blue’s especially. I have to say that Blue’s houseful of psychic women was an absolute delight. Her mother and aunts each had a separate and unique personality, each with different motivations, but all together they were a funny and interesting group that made me want to make an appointment at 300 Fox Way for a reading from these charming ladies.
There’s constantly a LOT going on. It’s not all about Gansey’s quest or Blue’s prophecy about kissing and killing her true love. It’s about Adam’s abusive relationship with his father, Ronan’s explosive relationship with his brother and the secrets surrounding their father’s death, the mysteries surrounding Noah and his frequent disappearances, an Aglionby teacher’s dark past, Blue’s desire to finally see something magical rather than just sit on the sidelines amplifying her family’s abilities, and Gansey’s struggle to keep everyone together. It’s a book that you simply can’t put down out of fear of missing out. You’ll take this book everywhere with you until you’ve finally finished it cover to cover.
And what then? After you’ve finished? Don’t be surprised if this book stays stuck in your head. While you might not be totally dangling on a cliff at the end, you will be strapping yourself in and preparing to repel down into a deep, dark cavern of possibilities. Upon finishing the final page, I immediately got on Amazon and ordered it for my personal collection. Not only that, but I ordered books two and three, as well as preordering the fourth book, which comes out in April. I can tell you that THAT is something that I NEVER do. I’m often worried that books in a series will fizzle out, and then I will have an unfinished series taking up space on my shelves at home. I can say with a certain level of confidence that I doubt that happens with the Raven Cycle books. Ordering the entire series was a preliminary measure to make sure that I wouldn’t check out book two at the library this weekend, thus, not making time for any of my grad school homework. At least this way I have a few days to get things done around the house before delving back in to this addictive story.
Things I Didn’t Like:
It’s actually relatively hard for me to unearth things about the book that I didn’t like when my initial reaction was, “This is PERFECTION.”
Well, I suppose the one thing I could say was that I had Noah figured out from almost the beginning. That’s only ONE twist that I found to be predictable out of so, so many in this book and likely the whole series. I won’t say what it was about Noah, but if you happen to be someone who pays attention to foreshadowing, you’ll probably pick up on certain things about him right away.
The last line of the book irked me a bit because it’s a pretty cryptic line of dialogue delivered by Ronan. It instantly had me confused because it refers to taking something physical out of a dream. And of course I read that and was like, “Huh? Did I miss something?” It refers to something Ronan “finds” earlier in the book, but the dream bit really threw me…UNTIL I looked at the summary on Goodreads for the second book (The Dream Thieves), and then it all made perfect sense. I’ll keep this spoiler-free, but I think a book primarily dealing more with Ronan is going to be very, VERY interesting.
It is exceptionally rare that I give a perfect score to any book, but this one deserves it. It definitely earns 5 stars in my book, and I can’t wait to add it to my shelves. It’s already eating away at me that I don’t have the second book immediately in my hands, and I know when I’m hungry for a sequel, that it’s definitely going to be a series that’s stuck on my mind for quite some time. I’ll definitely be recommending it to any and all of the young adults seeking a magical read that they can get lost in. Kudos, Maggie Stiefvater, you’ve got me hooked.