I’m in a bit of a love/hate relationship with this series by Maggie Stiefvater. This is the third novel in what I understand will be a four-book series. I liked the first book, The Raven Boys, but slogged a bit through the second, The Dream Thieves—for reasons I can’t quite explain though I think it might have had to do with the absence of Blue’s point of view. This third installment was more engaging to me but also frustrating.
So here’s a brief recap, as spoiler free as I can make it. Blue Sargent lives in a small town in Virginia, that is home to a ley line and a private boys school, among other things. Blue lives with her mother, a psychic, in a house that is crammed with psychics of various sorts. Over the course of the first two books, she becomes involved with a group of boys from the private school, who she refers to as The Raven Boys. There’s Richard Gansey III—charismatic, privileged, and obsessed with finding and waking the Welsh king, Glendower. There’s Ronan Lynch, dark and caustic, with the ability to dream things into reality and a hell of a backstory (the second book is really his book). Then, there’s Adam Parrish, the scholarship boy—who desperately wants out of this mountain town, away from his abusive father, and into a better life for himself. Finally, there’s Noah—who just happens to be dead.
A lot has happened by the time this third book opens—Blue’s mother has disappeared, Adam has made a deal that has joined him to a mysterious forest called Cabeswater, and Blue is still haunted by the prediction that the first boy she kisses will die. The Raven Boys and Blue are still on the hunt for Glendower and their search is leading underground. Intrigued? You should be. I was. And this book doesn’t disappoint—we learn more about all the characters and they get closer to their goal. The writing here is often beautiful and atmospheric, but I also find myself distracted by the fact that certain key aspects of each character are repeatedly emphasized. Gansey is smoothly upper class, Ronan glares, and Adam is uncomfortable in his own skin—afraid that his white trash upbringing will bubble up uncontrollably. These ARE important elements of these characters but I wanted Stiefvater to stop winding these details around my neck.
Maybe I’m feeling crotchety precisely because there is so much to like here that I hate being pulled out of the dreamy world that Stiefvater is creating by these relatively minor stylistic choices—choices that I have often ignored in less well-written works. All that snark aside, I am looking forward to seeing how Stiefvater wraps this tale up—there are a lot of interesting balls in the air and I’m curious to see where they fall.