Book Review – The Raven King (The Raven Cycle #4) by Maggie Stiefvater

June 9, 2016 Bonnie Book Reviews, Read in 2016, YA 1 Comment

Book Review – The Raven King (The Raven Cycle #4) by Maggie StiefvaterThe Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater
Series: The Raven Cycle #4
Published by Scholastic Press on April 26th 2016
Pages: 448
Genres: Fantasy
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
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Also by this author: Shiver, Forever, The Raven Boys

three-stars

The fourth and final installment in the spellbinding series from the irrepressible, #1 New York Times bestselling author Maggie Stiefvater.

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.

In a starred review for Blue Lily, Lily Blue, Kirkus Reviews declared: "Expect this truly one-of-a-kind series to come to a thundering close."

The Raven Cycle series

The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle, #1) [PurchaseReview]
The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle, #2) [PurchaseReview]
Blue Lily, Lily Blue (The Raven Cycle, #3) [PurchaseReview]

style-3 review

SPOILERS AHEAD

 “He was a book, and he was holding his final pages, and he wanted to get to the end to find out how it went, and he didn’t want it to be over.”

We finally come to the end of the Cycle, whether we like it or not. The search for Glendower, for the lost King buried somewhere along the ley line in Virginia, comes to an end. Gansey has been searching for Glendower since he was stung to death by hornets and was miraculously brought back. “You will live because of Glendower. Someone else on the ley line is dying when they should not, and so you will live when you should not.” They are the words that have haunted him and kept up his mysterious search even when it seemed that all hope was lost. But he’s not the only one on this strenuous journey: Ronan, the dream thief, Adam, who gave his free will to Cabeswater, and Blue, who saw Gansey’s ghost before she even knew who he was and knew that he’s either Blue’s true love or she’s the one that kills him.

“What a strange constellation they all were.”

I’ve always praised this series for its fascinating way of blending magical with the contemporary and making it something anyone could believe in. Somewhere in the middle of The Raven King though, the magical hold these stories had on me died. That carefully created magic suddenly became frenzied and befuddling, leaving me grasping at straws to understand it, meanwhile watching as the story left me in its dust. The other magical aspect of this novel though is the vast amount of characters and how incredibly well developed each and every one of them are. The stories had always been centered around finding the lost King, waking him, and having him grant them a single wish. Slowly, as time progressed the friends began to realize that while they were still on an active search for Glendower, they no longer needed his aid because they had each other and they were more powerful together than they had ever realized before.

“This was where they were now: Nightmares were real. There was no difference between dreams and reality when they stood here in Cabeswater together.”

And as far as the romances, what an accomplished example of true friendship and romance going hand in hand. One never overpowered the other; they existed together in perfect harmony. Blue and Gansey. I adored reading about the short time on page that they did spend together in each others company. They nestled together like two puzzle pieces. Ronan and Adam. While these two didn’t come as a great surprise, it was still a delight to see it come to fruition. While Ronan has always kept his feelings under-wrap, I felt it essentially dulled the spark that I wanted to feel between them. That powerful realization of when they both recognize where their friendship has come to felt subdued and I wanted so much more for those two.

When Maggie Stiefvater started this series, The Raven Boys set the scene for powerful things to come. Magical things. And while the magic continued to linger, all of the predictions that were made and the expectations that were set all seemed to become entangled and left without any satisfactory explanation. I felt it was anti-climactic and made everything that came before inconsequential. These friends endured loss and suffered greatly in their adventures to discover Glendower and the buoyant tone the ending set felt almost contradictory to what the other novels established. The fervor and seriousness of the first installments set expectations for the ending which ended up vastly contrasting from what was given. I liked the impression left, that the friends’ journey wasn’t over and that many adventures were still to come, but it was hard to truly appreciate it when my mind was still wrapped up in how their previous adventures had “ended”. Add to that was the lack of closure for several other characters: Blue’s father, Gwenllian, the Grey Man and Maura, and Noah. Noah played such a vital part in this story yet he not only wasn’t given a mention of an ending but I expected the group to at least have some momentary thought for his sudden absence in their lives after so much time. Even Adam’s unworthy parents were given a semblance of an ending and that was wholly unnecessary.

My issues and my praises for this novel stack up pretty evenly in the end. I can only imagine how difficult it is to write such a sprawling story with so many highly-developed characters only to have to find some adequate way of bringing their stories to an end. Stiefvater sets this story up with the expectation of extraordinary magic only to have it taper off into something less extraordinary by the end. The Raven Cycle is a highly imaginative tale that showcases Stiefvater’s impressive abilities of bringing any character to life. Despite it all, I’m still sad to have to say goodbye.

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