Hi guys, today I’m going to be talking about a series that I’ve just finished reading- The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater. To be honest I’m probably one of the few people that hasn’t gotten around to it yet, so big thanks to my sister for forcing the pile of books into my hands and demanding that I read them. I didn’t know much about them except her telling me “it’s about some teenagers looking for a Welsh king” and that I had to read them because I like character-driven stories.
So, the characters. Wow. Every single person, from a main protagonist to a person that just features in a couple of chapters, is so well constructed and feels like a person instead of a plot device. I loved all the central characters and they were distinct with their voices, personality, and actions. And, without going into details, you really feel for each one, they’re each dealing with their own problems and secrets.
I adored Ronan the most, he has that kind of bad attitude that comes from someone that’s been through terrible experiences and then gets forced into a life that seems shallow and constraining. After the first book, I was dying to see more of what made him tick because we just saw glimpses of who he was without actually getting a POV chapter. And he has some of the sweetest moments too, especially with his pet raven, Chainsaw.
I could talk about all the main characters and what I enjoyed about their arcs and development but I want to try to stay spoiler-free and there is so much to dodge.
Another great thing about the characters is that some of them are adults, and this is YA! I like the genre, don’t get me wrong, but usually anyone who isn’t a teen is underdeveloped and seen as someone standing in the protagonist’s way. They are a parent that has to be lied to and avoided when they sneak out, or they are doing a terrible job of running the government/organisation/magical group and if they would just listen to the teenagers then everything would be better… Not in this series! The heroine, Blue, has a fantastic family life. She has a touching bond with her mother and has her aunts and cousins there supporting her too. I remember Blue’s mum asking her where she was going and Blue says something like “out with the boys to do something distasteful” and her mum’s just like “okay.” It was fun because they trusted and respected each other and felt like a true family.
That’s a lot of words about characters, so let’s talk about the plot for a bit. It has my typical need for magic and fantasy elements, so that made me happy. But it was done differently than most books, it starts off with some of the group only half-believing that anything mystical is out there, but more layers and types of magic are revealed throughout the series. Again, it’s tough to say much without spoilers because there are a lot of big reveals!
In another non-typical YA move, romance isn’t a huge part of the plot. Yes, I know there is the whole “if you kiss your true love he will die” thing plastered on the cover, but it isn’t the meat of the story by any means. There isn’t the unnecessary angst between characters just for drama, or every single person somehow dating or falling in love with every other person in the main group. Oh, and there’s no insta-love either (YES!).
What there is instead is a complex, character-driven plot with great friendships between the protagonists. Sometimes they have their fall-outs, but you can see how much they care about each other and the journey they’re all on. They handle situations how real people would deal with them and the results are so much more heart-warming because of it.
Okay, it’s fairly obvious I was smitten with this series but I have to be objective. It finished waaaay too quickly. And not just in an ‘I loved it so much I want more’ way. I was down to the last centimetre of pages in the final volume wondering how everything could be wrapped up because there was so much more that needed explaining. And it kind of was, I mean the story arcs were resolved and the characters had their closure. But it felt rushed and a little confusing in some places as to what exactly had happened, there were easily enough questions left over to make the book a quarter as long again. Though I’ve been told that there’s going to be another series with these characters so I’m hoping I find some of the answers there.
Should you read it?
Despite the hurried ending, this is a series I highly recommend. If you’re looking for something that will suck you in and not let you out until you’ve drained every last page of words, this is a series to do it. You’ll get so invested in the characters that you’ll barely care what they are doing, as long as you get to find out more about them. And in my opinion, that’s what makes a great read.
This series is so highly thought of in my family that my sister made two videos talking about it on her BookTube channel, why not head over and check them out? (WARNING- these do contain spoilers!)
Have you read The Raven Cycle yet? Let me know what you thought. Or if you haven’t, are you planning on reading it soon?
If you enjoyed this, take a look at my Shadows of the Apt review.