If someone had told me ten years ago that this book featured an emotionally turbulent teenaged boy hand-raising a baby female raven whom he has inexplicably named after a deadly tree-felling instrument, I would have read it a hell of a lot sooner.
As it is, though, I’m glad I haven’t been spoiled for anything in this series. I really enjoyed my time with this first book, also my first book by this author. I think I had been avoiding it because I didn’t want to read yet another YA starcrossed lovers romance where the romance was the focus and the plot suffered, but that’s not at all what this is! If you can move past your disbelief in how ridiculous it is that a bunch of teenagers are searching for a ley line and a dead Welsh king in the northeastern United States (I definitely had to make that leap) this book is really fun. I thought Stiefvater created a bunch of characters with depth, and then spent the whole book teasing that depth to the reader. I enjoyed Blue and her house full of lady psychics, and Gansey seems an unlikely romantic hero. If he and Blue are endgame — and he is indeed her true love, the one that she is prophesied to kiss and kill — Stiefvater was smart about the development of their relationship. She spends the whole book alternately puzzled by him and irritated at him, instead focusing her romantic interest on Adam. But since the book opens with her meeting Gansey’s spirit on the corpse road, we know it’s really him that she will have an important relationship to . . . at least that’s how I figure it right now.
I really liked the rest of the raven boys, especially Adam and Ronan (and Chainsaw). Their group dynamics are prickly but firm, and I think both characters walk the line of being emotionally tortured without becoming over the top about it. The magic in this was kind of weird, more vibes than anything, no hard and fast magic system, and as a result this felt more like fabulism than straight fantasy. But I’m willing to go with it and hope for more clarity down the road.
I’ve just ordered the second book in the series, so hopefully I can get to it sooner rather than later.