Book Reviews

Review: “The Raven King,” Maggie Stiefvater

April 28, 2016
Review: “The Raven King,” Maggie StiefvaterThe Raven Kingby Maggie Stiefvater
Series: The Raven Cycle #4
Published by Scholastic on April, 2016
Genres: Mythology, Psychics, Urban Fantasy
Pages: 438
Book Depository | Bookworld | Booktopia

The fourth and final installment in the spellbinding series from the irrepressible, #1 New York Times bestselling author Maggie Stiefvater.

All her life, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love's death. She doesn't believe in true love and never thought this would be a problem, but as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she's not so sure anymore.

Be warned – this review contains spoilers. Let me start off by saying that The Raven King was not a perfect book. Still, I was torn when faced with giving it a rating because… how do you rate something like this? Do you go with your heart – choosing to side with the characters and the love you feel for them? Or do you go with your brain – ultimately deciding that no, this story didn’t satisfy what I needed from the ending of a series? In the end, my heart won out. Therefore my rating reflects my affection for this series as a whole and the genuine love I’ve developed for the characters within The Raven Cycle.

 “He was a king. This was the year he was going to die.”
– Gansey

The Raven King is one of those books you just can’t put down. I managed to finish this one in two sittings. I was driven by the need to know what happened to Blue, Gansey, Ronan, Adam and Noah. I needed to know before my heart burst and the possibility of NOT KNOWING became unbearable. Through the span of four books I’ve become incredibly attached to everyone and everything within Henrietta, Virginia and the dread I felt when it came to leaving them for good was akin to that of Mercy Falls, back when I read Maggie Stiefvater’s Shiver finale, Forever.

What I wanted from The Raven Cycle was simple: a happy ending for all the characters and satisfying closure to the hunt for Glendower.

What I got from The Raven Cycle? A happy (if not a bit confusing) ending and a disappointing ending to the hunt for Glendower.

“He was a book, and he was holding his final pages, and he wanted to get to the end to find out how it went, and he didn’t want it to be over.”

I’ve known from the start that this story was never meant to be about the quest, rather the journey and the characters that made it. Still, a big bit of me wanted to see the quest end in a magical discovery and ultimately answer all the questions I had about the Welsh king and how he managed to end up on the ley lines in Virginia. Over the course of four books we were thrown red herrings, clues and questions upon more questions… I wanted them answered.

While Maggie Stiefvater delivered in her trademark ‘Maggie Stiefvater way’, I’m still struggling to overcome the substantial disappointment that was the Glendower ending. What was it all for? Was there ever any point? Does there need to be? The fact that Glendower had been dead for what was most probably centuries was a major let down for me. Although I could tell things were not on track (they still hadn’t found Glendower right up until near the end) I still held out hope that things were going to fall neatly into place.

The Raven King was full of new aspects, too. Some I am a little confused as to why they were included at all: characters such as the relic hunters, the Orphan girl and Henry and the Robobee. Don’t get me wrong, Henry was okay, but I felt a bit like he was intruding on my Raven Boy time! I thought Piper’s idea to sell the Cabeswater demon was a little useless, too, and wondered what purpose it served in the grand scheme of things.

Still, bits from book one became relevant in The Raven King – such as Neeve righting her wrongs in the end – and everything did come full circle where Noah was concerned. There were some frightening scenes, some lovely scenes and despite my anxiety about the ending, I did have a lot of fun while reading it.

“His feelings for Adam were an oil spill; he’d let them overflow and now there wasn’t a damn place in the ocean that wouldn’t catch fire if he dropped a match.”

The Ronan/Adam relationship was nicely developed and discovered in The Raven King, something I’m sure a lot of people will be giddy about. Adam’s discovery in regards to his feelings about Ronan was a bit too subtle for me, but I enjoyed seeing how their relationship unfolded.

As for Gansey and Blue, I’m sad to say I wanted a bit more. I loved their ‘secret dates’ and their ‘coming out’ to the group, but I wanted more of the quiet Gansey/Blue scenes. Once again I’m reminded, however, that this series was never about the romance, but the friendships between the group as a whole – but I can’t deny what my heart wants!

Things are a little murky to me when it comes to stepping back and realising the whole aspect of ‘time’ and ‘magic’ when it comes to the ley lines, but it’s one of those things I suppose will sink in over time and perhaps strengthen with a re-read.

All in all, this series was incredibly genuine in its characters and their development, and will remain to be a firm favourite as other Maggie Stiefvater series have for me. The writing was spot-on, the dialogue engaging and the imagination second-to-none. I cannot wait to see what Maggie has in store for us next!

About Maggie Stiefvater

All of Maggie Stiefvater's life decisions have been based around her inability to be gainfully employed. Talking to yourself, staring into space, and coming to work in your pajamas are frowned upon when you're a waitress, calligraphy instructor, or technical editor (all of which she's tried), but are highly prized traits in novelists and artists. She's made her living as one or the other since she was 22. She now lives an eccentric life in the middle of nowhere, Virginia with her charmingly straight-laced husband, two kids, two neurotic dogs, and a 1973 Camaro named Loki.


  • Reply Chiara @ Books for a Delicate Eternity May 5, 2016 at 12:37 pm

    I’m so glad you liked this one, Brittany! I ended up adoring it as well, and also read it in two sittings *high five*

    I have to say that I was a tad disappointed in the Glendower reveal, as well. I had always thought that the group would meet him, but I suppose that was a bit naive because when was everything going to turn out perfectly for these characters?

    I thought that Adam’s quiet realisation of his feelings for Ronan were perfect for his character. Because he so wants to be that ~perfect~ man (kind of like Gansey), and to realise that being in love with Ronan would not fit that image would have been a lot for him to figure out.

    As for Blue and Gansey … I liked how their relationship progressed in this book, but I totally get what you mean about more quiet moments between the two of them. I feel like a lot of their scenes involved other people and I would have liked more scenes like we have in Blue Lily, Lily Blue where it’s just the two of them being adorable.

    Piper annoyed the hell out of me, and I didn’t really care about her at all, except that her actions were hurting Cabeswater and the group.

    I can’t believe this series is over! I need a reread ASAP.

    Lovely review! <3
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    • Reply Brittany @ Nice Girls Read Books May 5, 2016 at 3:40 pm

      Ahh, Chiara, yes! I’m so glad you agree. I think Glendower could’ve been such an interesting character and there were so many ways Maggie could’ve done it (Him being not what Gansey imagined, or him thinking Gansey needed to be better and that causing Gansey to have some inner-turmoil) so I was majorly disappointed he didn’t make an appearance at all!
      I really like your take on Adam’s feelings for Ronan. Something to think about for sure when I re-read. I can’t wait to re-read it, too! <3
      Brittany @ Nice Girls Read Books recently posted…Monthly Shelf Recap – April, 2016My Profile

  • Reply Cait @ Paper Fury May 4, 2016 at 8:59 pm

    aHHHH OKAY I CAN FINALLY READ YOUR REVIEW NOW THAT I’VE READ IT. *hyperventilates* I loved it. But I agree it wasn’t perfect. But at the same time I read a post on Maggie’s tumblr that said she wanted readers to WANT. And that’s 100% what I feel. I want more. I want things. I WANT MORE MAGIC. I JUST FADJSLAD WANT. So she succeeded there.

    And while the Glendower reveal was 1000% disappointing…I felt that it’s impressive that the book made US feel exactly what Gansey felt. Like Gansey’s breakdown of disappointment at the gas station was EVERY SINGLE READER TOO. And that feels like terrific writing to me. <3 Plus life isn't perfect and I'm glad the book acknowledge that. (Although now I'm confused as to WHO the 3 sleepers were? If Gwyenthlin wasn't technically asleep?)


    I'm so happy and sobby and broken and JUST A BIT PSYCHOTICALLY FLAILING right now about this book. I want to reread it immediately.
    Cait @ Paper Fury recently posted…These Characters Need Childhood Prequel Novels. Immediately.My Profile

    • Reply Brittany @ Nice Girls Read Books May 5, 2016 at 5:52 am

      YES YES YES. I read Maggie’s post and I was like WELL YOUR PLAN WORKED, THANKS. Hahaha. I need moaaar. I’m hoping that maybe she’ll do what she did with the Wolves of Mercy Falls and release a ‘surprise’ book some years down the track :P
      I AM STILL CONFUSED ABOUT THE SLEEPERS, TOO. How will we ever knoooow!?
      Brittany @ Nice Girls Read Books recently posted…Monthly Shelf Recap – April, 2016My Profile

  • Reply Kelly May 2, 2016 at 12:11 am

    Millions of fangirls can’t be wrong Britt. Sadly, I wasn’t one of them. I read a review like yours and seen Kynn’s love for the series time and time again and I just wanted to love it as well. And couldn’t. Do you think New characters and arcs were introduced for a spin off series? Like what Caddie Clare did with the final Mortal Instruments book. I can Imagine how hard it is to say goodbye. I’m so glad you enjoyed this overall Britt, even.with those.few niggling issues. Wonderful review hun <3 <3
    Kelly recently posted…The Raven King by Maggie StiefvaterMy Profile

    • Reply Brittany @ Nice Girls Read Books May 5, 2016 at 5:54 am

      Aww, I can see where you are coming from, Kelly. At times the plot was all over the place and I was often scratching my head (and still have some questions that weren’t answered) but all in all, I LOVED the characters and they were the heart and soul of this series for me….. As for a spin-off series, I don’t know! It’s not really Maggie’s style, but we’ll see! <3

  • Reply Zoe @ Stories on Stage May 1, 2016 at 11:45 am

    I have heard nothing but glowing reviews about this series, so I am so glad to hear that you enjoyed it too and thought it was a satisfying conclusion to the series. Definitely going to have to pick this one up now! Thanks for sharing and, as always, fabulous review! ❤
    Zoe @ Stories on Stage recently posted…RuinedMy Profile

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