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Book Review: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

“Blue Sargent had forgotten how many times she’d been told that she would kill her true love.” – first line, The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater.
The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
Scholastic Press, September 2012
ISBN 978-545-42492-9

All souls that will die in the next 12 months travel the ghost road on St. Mark’s Eve, which is where you will find Blue Sargent.  Although Blue comes from a family with intense psychic powers, the only power Blue has in the power to emphasize theirs.  She does not see what they see until the night she sees a spirit who identifies himself only as Gansey on the path.

“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.”


Soon, Blue and Gansey are joined together in a quest to find the ley line, a place of intense magic and deep, powerful secrets that runs through their town.

The Raven Boys is pure, magical storytelling; rich in its use of language and fully fleshed out characters.  Even the shadows and the auras around the edges of the characters have meaning.  Every flick of the wrist, every thread out of place, every accent on the tongue – they all have meaning.  And each character plays off of the other like the pinball bouncing around inside the game, every action causes a reaction and even the details that you think don’t matter sometimes do.  In fact, you will want to re-read this book simply to see the pieces that you missed and see how they all fit together.

I have often said that I wish that I reviewed books based on their quotability factor (or at least I have thought it in my head), and The Raven Boys was full of quotes that I read over and over again.  My favorite was the way that Stiefvater the various Raven Boys; Noah is smudgy, Adam has a weathered look to his uniform that indicates his real status in life, Ronan is sharp and Gansey has layers that sometimes slip.  In fact, each of the 4 Raven Boys are their own treasures to uncover and each page you turn brings new insight.  Each of the boys will break your heart in their own ways, not just in swoony ways, but in the depths of their stories and in the revelation of their secrets.

I don’t even have the skill to tell you how amazingly good this book was.  It was lush.  It was haunting.  And in many ways, for me, it is this generation’s It by Stephen King; here is a story about a group of people who become friends, drawn together by a magical quest with their fates tied into one another in ways both horrific and divine.  This time there is no clown in the sewer, but very real people motivated by greed to unlock a magical door that can only be compared to Arthur attempting to pull Excalibur out of the stone.  And like all magical quests, things are often not what they seem, nor are the people who take them.

Anyone who has ever entered the woods and felt that they were in a magical place will recognize at once the glory that Stiefvater brings to The Raven Boys; here the woods are truly magical and time acts as if there are no rules.  Here there are legends of sleeping kings who offer a promise and trees that speak in Latin.  Here is the glory of fantasy right in a town that looks like yours or mine – and that makes the magic that much beautiful because, for just a moment, you think you can walk outside and find it yourself.

Your teen readers will devour this book, more than once I imagine.  5 out of 5 stars for its magnificent storytelling and amazing character development.  Highly recommended.

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