Sunday, October 21, 2012
Magic and Mystics: The Raven Boys
*E-Galley provided by NetGalley - Thank you!*
It must be a truly fantastic place inside Maggie Stiefvater's head. Seriously. Those creative juices must be flowing full speed because that's the only explanation for her complex and completely imaginative stories. Combine those ideas with a richly detailed, ever so slightly twisted writing style, and you have knock out novels and a force to be reckoned with. I first fell in love with Stiefvater's writing earlier this year with The Scorpio Races, and I'm blown away again by The Raven Boys, the first book in a planned 4-book series called The Raven Cycle.
Blue Sargent is a teen in a house full of women who are real psychics and clairvoyants. Nothing about her life has been normal, except maybe for the fact that she has no special abilities of her own. So on St. Mark's Eve when she goes to take the names of the spirits who walk by, spirits of those who are to die in the next year, she's shocked when she can see one of them for the first time: a teenage boy, Gansey. This can only mean one thing: she will either love him, or she will kill him.
In a novel that alternates between Blue's story and Gansey's, a richly detailed world is built. Gansey and his three best friends, Ronan, Noah, and Adam, all attend the local private school and he is obsessed with tracking ley lines and locating a long dead Welsh king. Eventually, their lives intersect and the journey is a magical and frankly, kind of strange, one. And I mean that in the Best possible way. Weird is wonderful, and Maggie does a fantastic job with this from top to bottom.
There's not much I feel I can say about the story itself without fear of spoilers, so I have to be more general. I'll admit that it did take me a bit to get into this story - once the two story lines combined, things started making a lot more sense and the pace picked up, so if you're not grabbed at first, hang in there. Stiefvater does a fantastic job with establishing clear voices for every primary and secondary character (every woman in Blue's household and every one of the Raven Boys in incredibly distinct and interesting with his or her own quirks), and her attention to detail is exquisite. The only time too much detail could be seen as a criticism is at the end, and only because so much is happening at once and the story is setting itself up for book 2. I had to go back and reread it, and once I did, I was good to go!
This novel is a magical combination of contemporary and fantastical elements, and I feel so lucky to have been able to read an advance copy. This is my first experience with a Stiefvater series, and for the most part I would say that it held up to the hype. You can bet I'll keep reading The Raven Cycle in the years to come.
Comments welcome, and, as always, happy reading!
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