A solid second book in The Raven Cycle, held back only by slow plot development

The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle #2) by Maggie Stiefvater
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

So I’ve surpassed my good reads target for 2017 and now I’m trying really hard to continue on with series I’ve started this year trying where I can to progress them and keep myself engaged before too much time passes and I lose touch with the characters and plotlines. I read The Raven Boys a few months ago and having heard really good things about the second book in the series it made sense to delve into The Dream Thieves and spend some more time with Blue and her Aglionby boys.

Book 2 is a direct continuation from The Raven Boys and picks up immediately from where we left our characters but what becomes clear about this book is that it is going to be focused on Ronan Lynch, the darkest and most dangerous of the group of Raven Boys. With the reveal at the end of The Raven Boys that Ronan was able to take things from his dreams and bring them into the real world, we were left wondering just how this would link into the story of Gansey’s search for Glendower the lost Welsh King.

To be honest this book didn’t progress Gansey’s search for Glendower by much. This book is really about Ronan exposing his secret to his friends and then exploring how it links to his past and his father’s death and coming to terms with how to use and control the power that he has. All of this is done against the ticking timebomb of people who are trying to find the mysterious Greywarren an object which is allegedly linked to the gift Ronan has.

Initially, I struggled to gel with the book, for the first few chapters I considered putting it down and coming back to it later but slowly I kept going and then bit by bit I realised I was working my way through it and actually fairly quickly. I became more engaged by Ronan’s story and actually one of the characters I probably wasn’t meant to like became my saviour, Kavinsky. Kavinsky was like a breath of fresh air. He was a little bit dangerous, lurking around on the sidelines and then suddenly he became a vital part of this book and any chapters which featured Ronan and Kavinsky shone for me. I am sure I was not meant to like him quite so much but against the lack of plot movement in this book he was a shaft of light.

I am still struggling a little with Adam’s character as the books progress, he has gone from being quite a stand up trustworthy guy to being dark and a little isolated from the other boys. His ongoing need to do everything alone and to raise himself from the circumstances of his birth is beginning to grate a little. Yes he does work towards redemption towards the end of this book but I found I didn’t enjoy reading about him as much this time around.

I am still in love with Gansey, he didn’t feature as strongly in this book as the search for Glendower took a back seat but he is still the father figure, the one watching out for everyone and I love that he and Blue are starting to draw together and any time they were together on the page was lovely. But can we just take a moment to talk about Noah, and that kiss! That was one of the really standout moments in this book for me.

I enjoyed this book but I couldn’t give it a 5 star rating because for me Ronan’s story was almost a standalone book that could have been read apart from the Glendower story. I’m hoping that book number 3 will return to the central story and will allow our characters to be more evenly featured in the narrative.

I delve into a brand new series and love it!

The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle #1) by Maggie Stiefvater
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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.