By Maggie Stiefvater
Publisher: Scholastic Press
To Sum It Up: Gansey’s quest to find a Welsh king has begun to leave more questions than answers, but he has found a set of friends more than willing to help him complete his quest. Finding Glendower is becoming more of an urgent matter as the year begins to slip by and the promise of death and loss looms over the group. Gansey, Blue, Ronan, Adam, and Noah are starting to become desperate as the threats begin to multiply, but their loyalty to each other proves to be a force of great power, perhaps even equal to that of Henrietta's ley line.
Since The Raven King is such a special book, it's getting a bit of special treatment today, with reviews from both Melissa and me! We warn you now: there's not so much reviewing ahead as unabashed fangirling!
Lee's Review: Three years ago, I read a book called The Raven Boys that completely enchanted me with its magical story of a girl, four boys, and a sleeping king. I loved this book immensely, and yet, somehow, each successive novel in the series found still more to love about these characters and everything about them: their lives, their fears, their flaws. Now, four books later, we’ve reached the last chapter for Blue, Gansey, Ronan, Adam, and Noah, and what a magnificent swan song it is.
I knew—knew—that The Raven King would crush me heart and soul, but anticipating a thing and experiencing it are very often two different beasts. My mind is a storm of thoughts. My heart still beats irregularly when I reread certain passages. I don’t label books “life-changing” lightly, but this book and this series permanently own a piece of my heart. My brain refuses to compute that I’ve just read the final installment in a series that is perfection defined.
To discuss The Raven King in depth is to spoil it for those who haven’t read it, so please pardon my vagueness. Believe me—I am DYING to talk about EVERYTHING that made this book an absolute feast for anyone who loves words. Maggie Stiefvater’s prose is magic transformed into words on a page. Her Wolves of Mercy Falls series imbued winter with a life of its own. Here she literally gives sentience to the otherworldly forest of Cabeswater; the imagery Stiefvater employs in the Cabeswater scenes never fails to transport you to that magical place where every sight and sound is so real, you can’t help feeling like you, too, are standing in its wondrous midst. And when Cabeswater is threatened, you, too fear for it.
The Raven King finds Blue, Gansey, Ronan, and Adam running out of time to find and wake the legendary sleeping king Owen Glendower, which means that they’re also running out of time to save Gansey’s life. My heart ached and fractured for my beloved Gansey over and over again while reading this because he fully realizes that he may not be able to fight fate, but he wants to live oh so much. He’s devoted most of his life to this quest for his king, and the countless painstaking hours of research and global travel may have all been in vain. Gansey’s search isn’t just about actually locating Glendower and requesting a favor; it’s also about finding validation, that the life he was given back after a deadly hornet attack has had a purpose.
Foreboding and urgency dominate The Raven King; the characters constantly dance on the edge of a precipice, one minute misstep away from tipping over. Dreams and nightmares, which have been important to the series from the beginning, become so entwined with reality here that the distinction between them blurs at times. With ominous happenings and shadowy people descending on Henrietta, Blue and her Raven Boys are hyperaware that their journey together must reach its crescendo very soon. They’re totally conscious of what’s at stake, including the lives of both Gansey and Cabeswater.
Blue, Gansey, Ronan, Adam, and Noah are the lifeblood of this series, and observing their character development over the span of four novels has been one of the most incredible reading experiences I’ve ever known. I absolutely savored each of these last precious, exquisite moments with them, these friends whom no force, of this world or a magical one, could ever tear apart. Loyalty, sacrifice and love—so much love—define this group, and God, what I wouldn’t give to be even a tangential part of it.
I think I’ve written more of a sobbing, gushy farewell to the series than an actual review of the final book in said series, but this is all I’m ever going to be capable of. I also believe this marks the first time I’ve ever NOT wanted to finish writing a review, because then that means The Raven Cycle is well and truly complete. But if I must say goodbye, first I’d like to declare once again how much I’m going to miss the following: Blue Sargent, Richard Campbell Gansey III, Ronan Lynch, Adam Parrish, Noah Czerny, Chainsaw, the amazing ladies of 300 Fox Way (Maura, Calla, Persephone, Jimi, Orla), the Gray Man, Matthew Lynch, Henry Cheng and RoboBee, the Pig, the Barns, and the ethereal wonder that will always be Cabeswater.
All in All: Five billion stars and then some. It’s very likely I’ll read additional five star books this year, but The Raven King will still be my favorite book of 2016. Gansey—you will forever be king of this girl’s heart. I miss you and your friends so much already.
Melissa's Review: Finally! It seems like I’ve waited an eternity for the last installment in The Raven Cycle. The Raven King has been a wonderful way to start the summer. I actually picked up my copy of the book at my college bookstore while I was returning my textbooks. Having not read any YA in months, The Raven King was the perfect book to start my summer reading frenzy. I’ll warn you in advance, this is going to be more gushing than actual reviewing.
I hardly even know where to begin! The Raven King was mind-blowing. Pure magic, I tell you! Well, to be honest the entire Raven Cycle series is spectacular, but The Raven King ties everything together beautifully. While readers definitely got the answers they wanted/needed, The Raven King makes it very difficult to let go of the series. (I’ve been in a book depression for over a week. I guess the only solution is to reread the series. Oh darn.)
Don’t even get me started on Stiefvater’s writing. I barely have words for it. I can honestly say that I am incredibly jealous of her ability to craft such wonderful characters and write so cleverly. This is the type of series where you become so invested in the characters, it hurts you when the final book ends. I’m still in awe over how much I have come to love all of these characters and how very real they seem. Although the gang is in pursuit of Glendower, the book revolves more around their relationship with each other than the actual adventure. I don’t know if that sounds weird, but it really works. Since the series is so character driven, it has really become something far beyond what some other YA books could ever hope to be. If I could steal her bitching writing powers, I totally would. If you haven’t read any of her work yet, you are missing out big time.
Again, I’m sorry this isn’t much in the way of a review. I am too worried about saying anything about anything in fear of spoiling something by accident. So much goes down in this book, you really must experience it for yourself. I guess what I’m really trying to say is that The Raven King was so phenomenal that I couldn’t even write a cohesive review for it.
All in All: You must read The Raven Cycle! Hopefully my gushy babbling has convinced you of its awesomeness in lieu of a more traditional review.