Book: The Raven King (The Raven Cycle #4)
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
This was perhaps my most anticipated read of this year, given the length of time that we have been waiting for this series conclusion and naturally with anticipation comes expectation. It’s been over a year between me reading Blue Lily, Lily Blue and this one and so naturally I had forgotten some things from Blue Lily, Lily Blue, but once I started reading this book, it was like everything fell into place again and it didn’t matter that it had been a long time since I read the previous book, it was quite easy to pick the story back up again. I was quite nervous reading this book because of the expectation that I had for it given the long wait, but I’m happy to say that it fulfilled my expectations and more. Sure I was still left with questions afterwards, but it wasn’t in an angry, OMG this book didn’t tell me anything kind of way, it was in an amazing, this book was fantastic but I need more way, which is the way I prefer to be left after reading! It’s going to be difficult to review this without spoilers but I’m going to try.
First off, the greatest thing about this book is the friendship between Blue and the boys. They have such a great friendship and I love seeing all of the different combinations, Blue/Adam, Blue/Ronan (I especially love these two, they have kind of a brother/sister relationship going, it’s great!), Blue/Gansey (though that is also romantic), Adam/Ronan (more about that later), Adam/Gansey & Ronan/Gansey, because all their friendships are so different, but I also love seeing the whole gang interact together, they have a great bond and it’s really heartwarming to see. I did feel that once again Noah was kind of left out in this book though, which was a shame as he was originally a part of the gang. The relationship between the women of 300 Fox Way is also brilliant and there is a very heartwarming scene with them in the bathroom talking about Blue’s college plans, which I loved for two reasons, one because their relationship is so beautiful and two because they don’t talk about college as the only option which I loved because it’s good to show teens that there are more life paths than just going to college.
I felt bad for Noah in this book, he was kind of sidelined as compared to the other characters and when he was involved it wasn’t exactly good for him, there was one scene with him that was very creepy, that I’m not sure I can talk about because spoilers and it was so heartbreaking to see. I wish he’d been involved a little bit more, but at the same time, it felt like he had played his part, Noah’s death and Gansey coming back to life all those years ago was kind of what started this whole thing, so in that way, he had already played his role in the series. Still, it would have been nice if he had been more involved in the conclusion.
Maggie Stiefvater’s writing was beautiful as ever, this combined with the nice mix of longer and shorter chapters and of course the amazing characters who I have come to love, meant that I flew through this book (that and the amazing weather that we’ve been having in Scotland the last couple of days, seriously, I read the second half of this book in two days flat!).
The romance in this book was pretty good, I liked that it was in the background, yet still there. I know that most Bluesy shippers will be talking about Bluesy but for me in shipping terms this book was all about the Pynch! There were some great Pynch scenes, including one that had me especially squeeing, but once again, I can’t say what it is because of damn spoilers! All I can say is that if you are a Pynch shipper, it’s something we’ve been waiting for and you will be very happy! Despite my main ship being Pynch however, I did still enjoy the Bluesy romance, it takes a skilled writer to make the chemistry between two characters seem palpable when the physical intimacy between them (they can’t kiss because of Blue’s curse) is limited.
This book was much darker and more creepy than the previous books in the series, yes they all have dark parts, but the tone in this one was decidedly darker. I liked it though, it felt really fitting for the book, a lighter tone would have seemed wrong.
There was something that confused me and I’m not sure if it’s a spoiler or not because when I read it, I was like, I thought we already knew that, but since it’s always better if you’re not sure if something’s a spoiler to not say it, I’ll just say that something about Ronan was revealed that I already knew and I’m not entirely sure if we were told in Ronan’s POV and the characters in the book weren’t (possible) or if I just worked it out. It didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the book, but it did confuse me for a moment or two.
There were a lot of secondary characters in this book and I was confused at first as to how all of these secondary characters fitted into the main story and was wondering why Maggie was wasting our time with these other characters, but I should have trusted that she knew what she was doing and eventually everything all tied together and the stories with Piper, Laumonier, Neeve and the demon all tied into the main story. It was also nice that in this book, the last book of the series, all of the players from the three previous books had a role, because they were all part of the story too.
I felt really bad for Ronan, he’s such a lovely person underneath his prickly exterior and a lot of bad stuff happens to him in this book, though I can’t really elaborate because once again spoilers. Still he had some lovely scenes with Adam and some great scenes with his family as well, it was nice to see him and Declan finally getting along and the whole passing over of the Barns thing was really great and in the end, it seemed like he was happy, which was great.
Henry Cheng plays a much larger role in this book, he kind of replaces Noah in a sense as the fifth Raven Boy and I wouldn’t have liked that but he turned out to be damn likeable! He was kind of like a more flashy version of Gansey which made their interactions very fun. The thing I liked most about him though is that he kind of seemed like a reflection of us as readers, wanting to be part of the gang, I found that really endearing and in the end he just wanted to help, I thought he was really sweet. I did not see the revelations about Henry Cheng coming though! His RoboBee was awesome, I would love to have a RoboBee and it was interesting to see the part that him and his RoboBee played in the conclusion of the story.
It felt like everything came together in this last book, all of the characters stories came full circle and whilst I was left with some questions after the book was done, there was also this great sense of circular completeness which I loved. I loved the whole “Depending on where you started, the story was about…..(insert character here)” thing because essentially this story was about all of these characters, not just Blue and the boys.
It was interesting to see Blue interact with her dad Artemus, even if he didn’t play a huge role in the book. Their interactions also shed some more light on Blue’s special amplifying powers and I appreciated that because it was something that I didn’t really understand in the last book, so it was nice to see it better explained here. I also appreciated that the two of them didn’t suddenly become best friends or anything in this book, they are essentially strangers to each other and I liked the way that their awkward relationship was done, it felt realistic.
I know that some people felt that the resolution of the Glendower storyline was not satisfactory (for spoilery reasons I cannot say why, this book is damn hard to review!), but to me it was perfect. In the end the story was not about Glendower, the story was about Gansey, Blue, Ronan and Adam and the resolution to the Glendower quest reflected that perfectly I think.
I feel like I can talk about the Gansey death scene without being spoilery because it’s been said from the beginning that Blue will kiss her true love (Gansey) and he will die. That happens. It was really well done I thought, beautiful, heartbreaking, simple and felt like the culmination of everything that we were building up to from the start. I had kind of anticipated what was going to happen afterwards so the scene did feel kind of anti-climactic but it didn’t change the fact that it was really well done and I was happy with the way things turned out.
I have read some reviews of people complaining about the end, there were questions left unasked, the end didn’t tell us enough and whilst I think that’s true (I’m very confused about the sleepers, I don’t really get who the three sleepers were for instance), I also think that the ending was perfect. Everything comes together perfectly and it all comes full circle and I felt satisfied. Satisfied about where these characters were headed, satisfied with who they were with, generally satisfied that they were all where they were supposed to be, that they all had future adventures ahead of them and most importantly that they were all still definitely going to be friends in the future.
The character development of the main characters over the series, especially Ronan and Adam was astounding, if you compare the characters in the first book to where they end in this one, they have all grown so much, both together and individually and it made me so happy to see that. I especially loved that Adam finally got closure with his family, that was one of the many markers of his character development from book one to here.
Overall, even though I’m left with unanswered questions, this last book was incredible. The writing was beautiful, the characters are incredible, the story was amazing, everything came full circle and it was just wonderful to behold. When it comes to ending the series, Maggie Stiefvater nailed it.
My Rating: 5/5
My next review will be of the first book in Derek Landy’s new horror series, Demon Road. I just started it today and I’m liking it so far.