The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater
Publisher: Scholastic UK (26th Apr 2016)
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.
Lo and behold, I have finished Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven Cycle. After reading Blue Lily, Lily Blue, I was rather hesitant to pick up The Raven King because I didn’t enjoy the third book at all. It gave me the “filler book” vibe as I was reading it so I decided to put off continuing with the series.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I didn’t enjoy the series, because I did. The Raven Boys was such an intriguing beginning to the series that was eerily mysterious and everything was taken up several notches with The Dream Thieves. So you can imagine my disappointment with Blue Lily, Lily Blue which set the series to a painful trudge.
This review will be divided to a spoiler-free part for those who have read the previous books in the series but have not read The Raven King and a “discussion” of my feelings on The Raven King! (If you’ve read it, I’d love to talk about it with you!) Let me just put this out there: it’s not going to be easy to write a review for The Raven King because I am so conflicted with the series ending, but at the same time, I truly hoped it deserved a better ending that the one it got. But hey, that’s what I thought.
The Raven King is supposedly the epic conclusion to Maggie Stiefvater’s beloved series that took her almost 10 years to write. It’s the final countdown to finding the dead Welsh king, Glendower and Blue and her Raven Boys have faced multiple challenges and otherworldly events in their search for Glendower. And it’s also the book where Gansey is supposed to die – assuming Blue’s true love is Gansey and there will be a kiss in The Raven King which will kill Richard Gansey III.
“His feelings for Adam were an oil spill; he’d let them overflow and now there wasn’t a damn place in the ocean that wouldn’t catch fire if he dropped a match.”
What I liked about The Raven King? Maggie Stiefvater stayed true to her vision in writing a series that was trippy and confusing but imaginative and unlike anything I’ve ever read. I think after reading Blue Lily, Lily Blue, it was evident that the entire series wasn’t entirely a quest to find a buried Welsh king, but it is also a journey for the characters to find themselves amongst their newfound family. It’s been such a journey for me, as a reader, to follow the story from the first paragraph of the first book to the last paragraph of the last book, as the characters grew and learned invaluable lessons about life, love and friendship.
“What a strange constellation they all were.”
There were several things in the book that kept niggling at me as I was reading The Raven King. One, the pace. It took the book 200 pages to get a move on. In my humble and honest opinion, this series should have been a trilogy because I don’t see that much significance of Blue Lily, Lily Blue in the series besides being another book in the series. I felt that the events of Books 3 and 4 could have been merged together to create a kick ass conclusion that would blow our minds.
As usual, Maggie Stiefvater, an author with such a powerful ability to weave stories, managed to keep me hooked on the book with her writing. Her writing was haunting, beautiful and sublime. I was intrigued with what the gang would unravel as the book progressed. Though I have to point out that the introduction of the band of magical artifact dealers, including Greenmantle’s wife, Piper, was a bit of a drag. I had no interest in reading about them and I felt that Maggie Stiefvater could have written more about the main characters. I was looking forward to more of Blue and Gansey’s relationship and even Ronan and Adam.
Oh, let’s not forget about Henry Cheng. I mean, he provided comic relief in the book with his wise cracks and ineffable humour but he’s not exactly Noah, is he? And that brings me to my disbelief when I realised that Noah had such a small part in the book. Like, hello. Where was my Noah Czerny lurking throughout the majority of the book?
Okay, guys, this is the spoiler-y part. So if you haven’t read The Raven King or any of the books, I would scroll all the way down. Unless you don’t mind being spoiled, that is.
My reaction to finding out that Glendower is dead? Well, I almost threw the book out the window. Like, woman, you kept us hooked from the beginning only to give us this ending? I was infuriated. I was frustrated. And that ending when Gansey died. Like, what the fuck, I can’t even begin to tell you how shocked and upset I got.
We all know that Gansey would die because that’s been heavily hinted since The Raven Boys but then, that was the worst kind of death a character could ever get. No reason behind it. Blue kissed him and poof! He’s prone in her arms. No explanation needed. Come on, Ms Stiefvater. I had waited four books for such an anticlimactic ending? Pfft.
And what the heck was with the open ending? What the heck happened to the demon who was the destroyer of all things and the “unmaker”. Did it unmake itself? What happened? I believe you missed out on some things, lady.
What happened to the Gray Man? Did he end up with Maura? What about Calla? What about Artemus? I am still seething from the incomplete ending. Well, the book ended but I felt that it didn’t end because there were too many things left unexplained.
“Adam smiled cheerily. Ronan would start wars and burn cities for that true smile, elastic and amiable.”
Enough with the ranting because.. PYNCH happened. It fucking happened and I was over the moon when Ronan kissed Adam and Adam returned the kiss. My ship for them sailed harder and faster and more violently than the pathetic excuse of a ship known as “Bluesey”.
GUYS, PYNCH HAPPENED AND I WAS LIKE…
Speaking of Bluesey.. well, I had a hard time to process why it was so anticlimactic the kiss shared by Blue and Gansey. I know it was supposed to be Gansey’s kiss of death, but it was merely a paragraph and things ended. So much for a kiss.
I really need someone to talk about The Raven Cycle. Please.
Done with the spoiler-y section of the review.
“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.”
My final thoughts on The Raven King? It was fine. It was the conclusion to a great series. I loved The Raven Boys and The Dream Thieves because they were magical. Blue Lily, Lily Blue was quite a disappointment but The Raven King, on the other hand, evokes a mess of emotions inside of me. I liked that series ended and I am saddened that I will miss Blue and the Raven Boys immensely but did the series get the ending it deserved? No, it pains me to say this, but I had higher expectations for The Raven King.
“You’re asking me to define an abstract concept that no one has managed to explain since time began. You sort of sprang it on me,” Gansey said. “Why do we breathe air? Because we love air? Because we don’t want to suffocate. Why do we eat? Because we don’t want to starve. How do I know I love her? Because I can sleep after I talk to her. Why?”
The Raven King, as a whole, stayed true to the core of the series as it was beautifully written, imaginative and thought-provoking because the concepts and ideas presented in the book made it such an interesting read. Aside from some issues I had with the book, it was a good read, though I have to admit, I was close to DNF-ing it a few times at the beginning. The Raven Cycle had given me so much to love; especially in a book because of its characters and I did look forward to reading more about the world Maggie Stiefvater built and cleverly crafted. With a heavy heart, I don’t wish to part with the characters because I love them so deeply. Maybe in the near future, I would pick up Blue Lily, Lily Blue and The Raven King again, in hopes to find that missing spark that dimmed my reading experience with these wonderful characters and try to reignite my love for the books.
Thank you, Ms Stiefvater for such a wonderful journey. And thank you again, for making Pynch happen.
I’d like to thank Pansing Singapore for sending me a copy of The Raven King for review.