This is a teen story with a very intriguing strapline - if the main character, Blue, kisses her true love, he will die. Well that theme runs through the book as Blue gets involved with an odd quartet of boys from the near-by private boys' school and suspects that one of them might be her true love - she's drawn to one of them but has seen another in a 'night of the dead' vision she shared with her aunt. Blue lives in a house full of psychic women but isn't particularly psychic herself - her power is to enhance the psychic abilities of those around her - she's a sort of psychic amplifier. The boys are looking for Glendower the legendary Welsh King - their version of the English King Arthur - along a ley-line that runs near the small American town where they live. One of the boys is particularly obsessed with finding Glendower who (for some reason) travelled to America to be buried on this ley-line. I think this is intended to be the first of a series as it ends in a rather muddly way with some shocks and a lot left unresolved. I found the whole book rather muddly and the combination of small town America and British mythology with some genuinely talented psychics, absurdly rich school-boys and women with daft names (Blue for example) thrown in rather an uncomfortable one - the author hasn't managed to blend the mundane and the supernatural as seamlessly as I've read in other fantasy books. There is a lot of emphasis on things that I didn't understand to do with the American rich class and accents and places meaning certain things about characters - that didn't help.
Anyway, if you enjoy mystery/fantasy/real life/mythological kings type books, you'll probably get on fine with this and I would be interested to see if I'm right and the author does intend to continue and resolve the issues left unresolved at the end of this book.
on 13 June 2015
I haven’t read any Maggie Stiefvater before. It’s wonderful when you discover a new author.
Why I enjoyed The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle#1):
1. Great Characters
2. Interesting premise – Blue’s kisses will kill off her true love.
3. Clairvoyants, spirits, magic, ley lines.
4 A Quest to find Owen Glendower, The Raven King.
5. Maggie Stiefvater uses foreshadowing very successfully, particularly with regard to Noah.
6. There’s a well kept journal that wants! Loved the idea of this! With its very own shape doodle.
Tip: I did find Maggie Stiefvater’s writing style took a while to get into, but when I did I really enjoyed The Raven Boys. This is a series, there is Book two to look forward to in this quartet: The Dream Thieves (Raven Cycle #2.)
The Raven Boys is set in Henrietta, Virginia, a “town known for its ravens.” 94
Blue Sargent has been warned off kissing her true love as one single kiss will seal his fate, and believe you me his fate ain’t nice, one kiss and then he’s a goner. No more kissing, no more breathing, just dead. Quite a powerful premise, a mighty hook, but does the novel take you down this kissing, route to death path? Read and find out!
Blue joins in the church watch, on St Mark’s eve, April 24th, with Neeve, her half aunt who happens to be a famous TV psychic. Blue normally goes with her mother but this time she finds herself having a bit of a weird moment, on this particular St Mark’s eve she sees the spirit of a young man:
“He was so real. When it finally happened, when she finally saw him, it didn’t feel like magic at all. It felt like looking into the grave and seeing it look back at her.” 15
There are a wonderful array of interesting characters to engage with in this novel. This is partly because Blue doesn’t live in your typical household, Blue lives in 300 Fox Way, a clairvoyant household with her mum Maura and her psychic aunts, Calla and Persephone.
There are several Raven boys to take a pick from! I know I have my favourites, I’m sure you will too!
There’s Gansey (Blue initially calls him President Cell Phone).
“Gansey was the boy she either killed or fell in love with. Or both.”
The Raven Boys aren’t quite your usual boy next door type: “There was something odd and complicated about all of these boys, Blue thought – odd and complicated in the way that the journal was odd and complicated.”
Then there’s Adam, who isn’t a rich kid like the others:
“Success meant nothing to Adam if he hadn’t done it for himself.” 132.
Adam has a difficult home life, and he’s trying to rise above his problems but there’s always this chip on his shoulder which he can’t quite shake off. Adam’s home life is certainly no cake walk, I really felt sorry for him.
As well as Gansey and Adam there are two brothers Declan and Ronan Lynch, who have been “at odds for as long as Adam had known them.”
Gansey prefers the company of Ronan and I have to agree I prefer Ronan too!
“Adam suspected Gansey’s preference was because Ronan was earnest even if he was horrible, and with Gansey, honesty was golden.”
There is a villainous side to Ronan but he’s not your stereotypical villian with just one side to his character. He also has a kind, unexpected side, which is demonstrated by his care and attention to a tiny foundling raven :
“You look like a super villain with your familiar,” Adam said. Ronan’s smile cut his face, but he looked kinder than Blue had ever seen him, like the raven in his hand was his heart, finally laid bare.”
More about the mighty raven:
“The raven was Glendowers bird.”
“Legend had it that Glendower could speak to ravens, and vice versa.”
Then there’s Noah who’s the less detailed out of all the Raven Boys, he’s a bit grey round the edges, but there’s a good reason for that.
My favourites out of the boys are Adam, Ronan, and Gansey. I reckon Ronan is going to get very interesting in book 2 – my intuition is telling me! Okay, maybe intuition with a bit of help, the last line of the novel kind of hints that this is the way the series develops.
On top of clairvoyancy, readings, spirits, there’s a four year quest, to find Owen Glendower, The Raven King. But the Raven Boys are not the only ones searching for Glendower, a young man comes for a reading with Blue’s psychic mother, Maura, Calla and Persephone.
As well as all the wacky aunts, we have a very special journal:
“More than anything, the journal wanted.” 84
The Journal is about ley lines and all manner of other details – “invisible energy lines that connected spiritual places ” Glendower, sleeping knights, “sacrificed kings, ancient water goddesses and all of the old things that ravens represented.
The adventure starts to step up a notch when Helen, Gansey’s sister, a helicopter pilot takes them exploring. Blue goes along and directs them to the church on the ley line. They fly over a shape in the overgrown grass that resembles a raven.
Gansey: “If they removed Glendower from the corpse road, I think the magic that keeps him asleep would be disrupted.”215 She said, ‘Basically, you mean he would die for good if he was removed from the line.”
All manner of incredible things happen, but not to spoil it for you by saying too much.
Would I recommend reading the Raven Boys? Absolutely. Highly recommended for readers of Fantasy, Paranormal, YA, Romance, Supernatural, Mystery.
My rating: 4.5 stars
on 10 December 2012
Originally published at Winged Reviews.
There are some books that I rate highly because of a great plot or fantastic characters or wonderful world-building. It's very, very rare that one book will have all of those things or more in spades and even rarer that that book's words flow like poetry. Magical prose, is only one of the many highlights of The Raven Boys, the first book in what I'm sure will be an absolute must-read series. It's one of the most original, enjoyable and well-written books I've read in a very long time.
Blue Sargent is a young girl from a family of seers, but she doesn't have the same talent. On every eve of St. Mark's day, she goes to the local graveyard to take note of the souls her clairvoyant mother sees--people who will die within the next twelve months. Unexpectedly, this year Blue sees a soul herself and talks to it--a boy named Gansey. "There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark's Eve, Blue. Either you're his true love...or you killed him."
Despite all the romantic sentiments the synopsis promises, at its heart this book is a mystery. What starts out as an introduction to a fantastic cast of characters in small town Henrietta, Virginia, becomes a modern day quest to find the long-lost, legendary Welsh king, Owen Glendower.
The quest is Gansey's dream. Gansey is a Raven Boy, a nickname given to the rich students at Aglionby private school. Apathetic to his privileged life, Gansey has made it his mission to find the hidden resting place of the legendary king. His meticulous research on old myths and ley lines has led him to Henrietta and he enlists the help of his close circle of friends. Sweet, stubborn Adam, who resents privilege but strives for it; fierce, bad boy Ronan; quiet, mysterious Noah--all the Raven Boys are well-characterised and grow considerably throughout the book. I'm also a big fan of their friendship, which holds strong despite the odds. If I had to pick a favourite, I would definitely say Gansey. I'm drawn to his focus, leadership, but mostly just him <em>being</em> him, his way and attitude of someone who is completely at ease with himself, his life purpose, and his place in the world.
The beauty of the story is all in the crafting of the detail. From Blue's unorthodox all-female family, to Ronan's pet raven, to the Raven Boys' converted factory apartment, to the outstandingly named Barrington Whelk. Little hints of information and development are all carefully weaved in, and I found myself uncovering something new and wonderful with each turn of the page.
There were many twists to the story that surprised me, despite all the little breadcrumbs sprinkled throughout. Just when I thought it was slowing down, it always managed to pull me back in with one amazing revelation after another. This book is as stubborn as Adam. It just wouldn't let me give it any less than a top rating. I would highly recommend this to anyone that loves reading for the sheer pleasure of it. It's a wonderfully crafted story with wonderfully crafted characters.
on 16 October 2012
Maggie's back!! For those who love Maggie as much as I do, she does not disappoint in this wholly original tale. As usual, she manages to captivate and enthrall and she left me begging for the sequel! If you're new to Maggie, she is an author whose books you can love and cherish. She has a gift for making characters come to life and tempting you with storylines that will keep you from putting the book down! If you're not new to Maggie, be prepared for something a little different, but something that still captures Maggie's brilliance.
Set in Virginia, Raven Boys starts with a tragic prophecy that if Blue kisses her true love she will die. But don't let that fool you into thinking this is a love story. Instead what you'll discover is a set of fascinating characters, so lifelike they practically breathe on their own, all of whom have secrets they hide, some of which come to light in this book and others that are yet to be revealed, but all build to the deep layers of these characters.
Our main character is Blue, the non-psychic daughter of a psychic. Given that she isn't psychic, she's surprised when she sees the spirit of Gansey, a boy she has yet to meet. This, she learns, means two things: 1. Gansey will die this year, and 2. that either Blue will kill him or he is her true love. Meanwhile, Gansey himself, a local private school boy, has a rather strange interest of his own: he is obsessed with finding a long-dead Welsh king, and as Blue joins him and his friends on the search, they realise there is much magic and darkness surrounding their search, including someone else who has been following their search.
This may sound like a strange idea for a story, and it is definitely unconventional and original! But don't worry if you don't believe in psychics or magic or leylines. Maggie writes so well she can make you believe anything! I didn't find myself worrying about the reality of it all, but I found myself believing what the characters believed. I loved watching Gansey, who is so passionate both in his search and keeping his friends in one piece that you can't help but want him to succeed; I felt for Adam, the "scholarship kid" who wouldn't fit in if not for Gansey, and who carries a tragic secret with him; I found Noah, the quiet, shy one, to be intriguing; I generally despised (and secretly loved) Ronan, the antagonistic fireball who carries the weight of his father's death; and I loved Blue, proud to be different, and irritated by Gansey's ignorance to the effect of his wealth on his life. And I haven't even mentioned Blue's psychic mother, Maura, her psychic best friends, and her psychic sister who has suddenly mysteriously come to town. I loved them all, especially because they were all so quirky and individual. Maggie is a master of characterisation!
This is a story driven by legends. It is a story with characters you want to keep returning to. It is also a story full of secrets and with an amazing twist at the end. It's not an easy read and it's not typical Maggie, but if you're looking for something to sink your teeth into, something that's a little different from every other book you've read, you will adore Raven Boys. There wasn't as much romance as I was hoping for, but this isn't a drawback; it works well and draws the focus to the plot and the characters by themselves. But there is the hint of more romance later in the series, and we have yet to find out who Blue's true love is. I thoroughly loved this book and couldn't fault it (which is rare for me!). I can't wait for the next book!
on 29 December 2015
I loved this book! A friend recommended I read it but I didn't do so immediately as I was slightly put off by the blurb; the whole 'if you kiss your true love he will die' thing seemed slightly over the top teenage angsty to me. (I'm not knocking it but it's not really my thing). However, I eventually got around to reading it and fell in love with Stiefvater's writing. The true love plot line is there but the book is not so much about that as it is about all the characters. Whilst you might not meet people like the Raven Boys and Blue on a day to day basis (or maybe you do but I don't), the characters are relatable, they are complicated, flawed and feel real even whilst Stiefvater builds a story woven with magic and rooted in ancient legend. You invest in all of their relationships, with each other and outsiders. This book is not world changing ground breaking literature but there is a dreamlike quality to it that will pull you in and leaves a lasting impression. The final book in the quartet, The Raven King, comes out March next year so now is a great time to start reading!
on 19 September 2012
There's something about a book by Maggie Stiefvater... like dark chocolate, I don't need a lot of it to find myself deeply satisfied. Her writing is really a cut above, and I simply can't blast through one of her books in a day in the same way as I can't eat a whole bar of dark chocolate in one go. I like to put it down, wander off, have a think and then come back later. Every book by Maggie seems to get better and better too, and The Raven Boys is no exception to this rule.
I particularly liked The Raven Boys because this was the first time Maggie has written in the third person, as the narrator, and she is a brilliant one at that. Anyone who has been to one of her signings will know she tells fabulous stories, and this read out like sitting with her in person listening to her tell the story... at times I felt like I could really hear her as she used some of her simply delicious adjectives.
The book centers around Blue, a young girl who lives with an entire family of psychics. She is used to weird stuff happening, and she takes what they say seriously. So when she was told that she would kill her true love when she kisses him, she made a vow not to kiss any boy, just in case. I felt pretty sorry for her about this, because there were several boys distinctly worth kissing in this book! Blue falls in with a friendship group from the nearby private school, Aglionby. She has pretty much hated the Aglionby boys her whole life, but Gansey, Ronan, Adam and Noah are a little bit different than the usual suspects who wear the school raven covered crest. These particular raven boys are treasure hunters, who seek a mystical line of power which supposedly runs through her town.
Blue is able to help them on their quest using a special power of her own, and she finds it exciting to spend time with the boys. She is drawn to them because she can see the real people when the Aglionby masks slip. In their quest to uncover the ley line they discover some weird stuff and it all gets a little spooky! I particularly loved the inclusion of all the ravens... they are great birds, and Ronan's pet raven was too cute.
As far as the raven boys go, I thought they were interesting and slightly mysterious characters. Gansey is the lynch pin of the group and they all orbit around him; he is the obsessive ley line hunter, and the others are along for the ride. Speaking of rides, his orange Camaro was something that made me smile a lot. I know Maggie has one, and I pictured hers... her love for it certainly came across loud & clear! Ronan is a boy with serious issues, and there isn't a lot to like about him... yet. I think he will come into his own in the future; he is the sort of boy that you might instantly dismiss as a tool, but there are chinks in his armour, and he may yet turn out to be my favorite. Adam has a complete inability to accept how awful his home life is, and he won't let his friends help him due to an inferiority complex which at times was a little irritating. That said, he is a total sweetheart. Noah... well, he was kind of a lurker, but a nice one.
I really did enjoy this, and I thought there was a fabulous moment where they all discover a real humdinger of a plot twist. I didn't give this five stars because I didn't laugh or cry, and there was no kissing to suck me in... Blue didn't feel like risking any lives this time. But as The Raven Boys is written as part of The Raven Cycle series, I feel sure there will be some point when I do all of those things and I give a five star rating out. I loved this and I can't wait for the next instalment in the adventure!
on 10 February 2013
What can I really say about The Raven Boys? For the most part I actually hated it. Now I know that is a strong word but I did. I found it boring and slow and I wanted to kill the characters. But something kept me reading. I actually couldn't put the book down. And I have no idea why.
The Raven Boys is by Maggie Stiefvator and if you know me, you know I have a love/hate relationship with her books. I loved first 2 books in her Wolves of Mercy Falls series but hated Forever and I hated The Scorpio Races, so I was wary of this title. It started out fantastic. I hooked with the first chapter. I found it intriguing and different but I have no clue what happened. After the initial first few chapter the story was just going nowhere and I just found it mind numbingly boring. It had the potential to be truly amazing but instead I found it confusing and I skimmed a lot because there are scenes that are completely pointless. There was too many different stories going in within one book that it gave me a headache. The characters....argh drove me insane. To me they had no depth at all. Expect maybe Adam he is actually really likeable.
However!!!! At around 2/3 of the way through the story picks up and the story really comes together and started to get exciting. There are a few twists that I did not see coming and I loved that. I like a good surprise in stories. The characters still bugged me but not as much. I found myself completely transfixed on the story and how it would play out. And the ending, pretty damn awesome. And the last 50 or so pages saved this book for me. I am now really looking forward to the next book so see how the story goes and to see if the characters can make me like them. I doubt it but the story itself is intriguing enough that I will continue with the the series.
I'm a massive fan of Maggie Stiefvater but, for possibly the first time ever, I actually managed to hold off on starting a much anticipated series until just before the release of the final book. No year long wait between each new instalment can only be a bonus, especially when it means I can read the whole series over the space of a couple of months (I'm reading with a group of friends & we're reading one book every 2 weeks otherwise I'd probably have devoured the entire series in one massive long binge). I didn't have any doubts that I would love this story because I already know how beautifully Maggie writes but I went in knowing pretty much nothing about the story or what to expect from it.
The Raven Boys is very much a character driven story and it has such wonderful characters at the wheel that you'll be hooked in no time. Blue was my personal favourite, as the only non-psychic in her family she has been raised to believe in the paranormal but she's never seen it for herself. Blue is smart, independent and she follows her own path even if that means she never quite manages to fit in amongst her peers. She is also living with a dire prediction over her head, one that means if she ever kisses her true love he will die so that obviously makes even the idea of dating just a little bit difficult. While Blue never doubts the abilities her mother and the other women they share their home with she is desperate to experience some kind of magic for herself so it's no surprise that she's drawn to Gansey and his band of adventurers.
Gansey, Adam, Ronan and Noah are all Raven Boys, known as such because their school crest is a Raven. Aglionby is a boys school for the wealthy elite (as well as the occasional scholarship student) it's the kind of school that gives students the best education money can buy and almost guaranteed acceptance into the most prestigious colleges out there. Each of the boys is attending the school for different reasons and they all undoubtedly bring their own baggage to the party but Gansey is the central character that the other boys seem to revolve around. He is the glue that holds them all together and it is his obsession to find the Ley lines, along with something he believes has been hidden along them. The others aren't so interested in the Ley lines for themselves but want to help Gansey achieve his goals.
I loved all four of the boys in different ways, Gansey can be pretty hopeless in social situations because he is so stuck inside his own head that he is often oblivious to what is going on around him but he has a strange kind of magnetism and he's the kind of guy that people would follow anywhere. Adam is probably the most normal of the bunch but he is dealing with a very difficult situation at home that is quite heartbreaking to read about. He wants to deal with things on his own terms and I do respect him for that but at the same time it was frustrating to watch him constantly refuse the help he desperately needed and that his friends were willing to offer. He has a bit of a chip on his shoulder as far as money goes and even though I could understand where it was coming from it did get a bit irritating to read about. Ronan is the brooding mysterious one with an anger problem, at first glance he's the boy your parents warned you to stay away from but that's probably what makes him so fascinating. I want to dig deeper and uncover his secrets and we've already had a glimpse that he's not quite as tough as he pretends to be. Noah spends most of his time in the background but the others rely on him to help keep the peace. I don't want to say too much about him but he was the character who surprised me the most and I just want to climb into the book and hug him!
It's not surprising that Blue is drawn to the boys and their quest is something she is in a unique position to help them with thanks to her family abilities. She also knows things about them that they are completely unaware of and there are things she is determined to stop from happening. This isn't a fast paced story, instead it's one that takes time to fully develop the various characters, but that doesn't mean nothing happens. In fact there are some brilliantly vivid and creepy scenes and we're only just beginning to scratch the surface of the mystery surrounding the Ley lines. I can't wait to see where their investigation takes them next and events at the end of the story have definitely set things up for future instalments.
Source: Received from Scholastic in exchange for an honest review
on 16 February 2016
Review originally posted on my book blog: [...]
Before even going into this book I could tell just how mysterious it was going to be.
What I hadn’t expected was the paranormal/mystical elements. I have absolutely no idea how I managed to miss the fact that it’s a paranormal book…but I went into the book pretty blind, so there we go. But one thing’s for sure, I LOVED the supernatural story line! I have a huge interest in ghosts and – well, all things paranormal, so it’s quite easy to see why I flew through this book so quickly.
I would normally think that paranormal stories sound unrealistic, just the sort of things you find entertaining but never actually think much further. But this book somehow managed to sound believable. I found myself wanting to discover more along with the characters, willing them to find a break through in this mysterious world they’d found.
And speaking of the characters, can I just mention how lovable they are? Oh I just want to hug them all.My favourite thing about this book was definitely the friendships. They were all so loyal, and emotional. It was quite refreshing to see a book where the guys are just as – or at times more – emotional as the women of the story. Each character has their own very strong personality, all being a bit quirky in their own way. At first, because of the amount of characters, I did find it slightly confusing to keep up with them all, thanks to them all being described at the same time. But within 100 pages I could feel myself being drawn further into the story, and was soon gripped.
There were so many times where the book became really intense, and I just couldn’t put it down. I HAD to find out what was going on. it was almost as if I had the same determination driving me as the characters themselves had. And you always know it’s a good story when you feel like you’re living it.
I’m really glad this book lived up to it’s hype, and I’ll definitely be carrying on the series!
on 5 February 2016
Read this review along with others on my blog @ libroliv.com
“She wasn’t interested in telling other people’s futures. She was interested in going out and finding her own.”
The truth is a weighty concept, a treasure held dear to many, and a theme explored beautifully and thoroughly in The Raven Boys; the importance of it, the depth of it, the meaning of it when challenged with friendship.
Which is the honourable method?: To save a friend from a terrible truth, or to offer them total honesty?
Personally, I don’t know, and neither does Blue, really. This book is, obviously, laden with such an issue, and explores it in a beautiful manner.
I won’t tell you what Blue decides to do, but I will tell you this: The Raven Boys is an amazing, captivating novel that is perfect for any book lover willing to try something new. Honestly, I struggle to find a novel to compare this one to, because it’s so unique. Like I said in my Goodreads update: “I’ve never read a book like this.”
So what is it about? Well, as the synopsis informs you, it’s a book of clairvoyance. Frankly, I’ve never really been interested by such a notion, but reading about Blue’s seer family really captured my interest; a lot of the book discusses unfamiliar terminology related to this theme, which I didn’t really understand at first, however the book managed to settle into the swing of things eventually, and I could easily understand what a ley line is by the end of it.
Most of all, though, this is a book about friendship. Generally, Blue didn’t have many friends as this book commenced, yet by the end she has acquired 4, all of whom she had previously labelled enemies to her morals. The Raven Boys are the alumni of Aglionby School, a local private school populated by the rich males of Virginia, and the very people Blue personally vowed to avoid due to their predatory nature. However, Gansey, Adam, Ronan and Noah are unlike any of the Raven Boys Blue has met previously, and so she decides to give them a shot.
I’ll tell you no more lest I finish recalling the entire story!
I will, however, tell you that I’m itching to read the next addition to this series. Patience is a virtue, they say!
In terms of writing, The Raven Boys is, again, a beauty. The writing has an aura of historical opulence, so much so that I commonly felt I was reading a novel from an alternate era. This would perhaps be an issue for a few people, yet for me it made the magic of phophetics that little bit more enchanting, and truly brought such an uncharted territory – on my part – to life.
I don’t have much more to say due to my incapability of discussing perfect novels without delving into the semantics of the actual plot (a plot that was, in this case, consistently riveting, might I add). Thus I will leave you only with a few words: The Raven Boys is an original masterpiece, a breed of novel I have previously neglected to encounter, and I highly recommend any one who even felt a sliver of interest towards The Raven Boys via this review to give it a read – you won’t regret it!
Obviously, from this review, I awarded The Raven Boys 5/5 stars.