I have been doing really well knocking out lots of series I’ve been planning on reading this year and having now completed all of the Cassandra Clare novels I was looking for an intriguing new series to pick up as we move into the second half of 2017 and I had heard such wonderful things about Maggie Stiefvater’s Raven Cycle that it didn’t take me long to delve into The Raven Boys.
This book was one I wasn’t quite sure how I would get on with, sometimes as I’m an older adult reader of Young Adult fiction I sometimes do find some novels just don’t quite grasp me due to the writing style and content but I have to be honest that The Raven Boys was a book I flew through in a few days and did enjoy very much. It’s difficult not to be intrigued when the very first thing we learn in the narrative is that one of our lead characters Blue has been told that if and when she kisses her true love he will die.
This revelation leads us to a major discovery about this book which is that the paranormal and psychic worlds will play a large part in this series as Blue has been raised in a house full of psychic women and is indeed about to take part in the St Marks’ Day ritual at her local ruined church where she and her mother go annually to see the spirits of those who will die within the next 12 months. Blue herself is unable to see the undead, instead she is an amplifier for the powers of those who can, however on the night of St Marks’ she sees the spirit of a young boy named Gansey, a pupil of the local private school Aglionby. Her aunt informs her that if she is able to see him this means one of either two things, either he is her true love or she killed him.
With this revelation under her belt it is then somewhat worrying when Gansey stumbles into her life seeking a psychic reading from her mother in order to help him find the local ley lines which will lead him to the body of a dead Welsh king who Gansey hopes to raise from the dead with the help of his friends Adam, Ronan and Noah, the members of the books title The Raven Boys.
This book is full of twists and turns, all of them based in the supernatural and the mystery surrounding the ley line in their town of Henrietta and it’s a gripping journey that you slip through without really realising how quickly the chapters are flying by. It is also helped by the sheer range of characters within and their different personalities. I loved Gansey who is seen as others as being the ultimate privelleged rich boy with his whole future ahead of him but instead he is the father figure to his friends, their rock and the one who has everyone’s backs. In return they give him unquestioning loyalty and support him in his strange search for a dead Welsh king of whom they otherwise would not have known.
I also loved the character of Adam, the obligatory scholarship kid who has struggled his whole life to attend the school which will give him the opportunity to escape his lot in a small town life and run from his abusive father who beats him badly. I found it nice that despite the author moving immediately to bring Blue and Gansey together she allows a relationship to develop between Blue and Adam which leaves us wondering just how if Blue’s true love is Gansey this will leave Adam feeling as the series moves on.
For me though one of the most intriguing characters was Ronan, the bad boy of the group, the one who is struggling to remain in school due to non attendance and bad grades who is at odds with his family. It is clear Ronan has just lost his father and is struggling to come to terms with this and it is clear that we have not fully uncovered the secrets in his story and there is going to be lots more to explore as the series progresses through the remaining 3 novels. I especially loved that Ronan, whilst often sullen and withdrawn is the one who ultimately stands up for Adam and helps him escape the abuse he is suffering at home.
All in all this novel really was hugely enjoyable, the ending did leave me with lots of questions about why characters made the decisions they did. The last sentence left me thinking if I’d just totally missed a page as it literally leaves you hanging on a sentence which is going to take lots of explaining but I’m sure is linked to the title of the second book in the series. I am definitely excited to dive into book 2, The Dream Thieves and would give this one a 4 out of 5 stars.