Ah, Renay, how can I ever thank you enough? My love for the Raven Boys had been cemented with The Dream Thieves, but now I’m at the edge of my seat for the series conclusion. Let me join you, legions who are eagerly awaiting Blue’s first kiss (or dreading it), the discovery of Glendower (or not), and the saving of Gansey (or not).
Published by: Scholastic, 2014
Ebook: 416 pages
Series: The Raven Cycle #3
My rating: 8/10
First sentence: Persephone stood on the bare mountaintop, her ruffled ivory dress whipping around her legs, her masses of white-blond curls streaming behind her.
There is danger in dreaming. But there is even more danger in waking up.
Blue Sargent has found things. For the first time in her life, she has friends she can trust, a group to which she can belong. The Raven Boys have taken her in as one of their own. Their problems have become hers, and her problems have become theirs.
The trick with found things though, is how easily they can be lost.
Friends can betray.
Mothers can disappear.
Visions can mislead.
Certainties can unravel.
What can I say that I haven’t already said about this series? I still love it so so much and what makes me happier than anything is that the books keep getting better. Whereas the first volume focused mostly on setting up the characters, the second one already advanced the plot a fair bit. Ronan’s ability to take stuff out of his dreams was a major surprise and a game-changer of epic proportions. But from the beginning, the overarching storyline was always Gansey’s search for Glendower, the Welsh king supposedly buried somewhere around Henrietta, who would grant a wish to the person that wakes him up. Blue Lily, Lily Blue is where the group finally finds something.
I am still reading this series mostly for the Raven Boys – because I love them to bits, I think we’ve established that – but this book also kept me on the edge of my seat for pure plot reasons. Not only Glendower is buried around the area, but there are supposedly three sleepers, one of which must not, on any account, be awoken. I can say very little about the plot without giving away too much, but I have to mention Gwenllian. That woman is so creepy, I thought for a moment I had fallen into a thriller rather than a YA fantasy. The first encounter with Gwenllian sent literal chills down my spine and I feared for the lives of the characters I’d come to care for so much. Her prophetic sing-song may sound like gibberish at first but, dealing with Blue and the Raven Boys, I soon suspected that there is more meaning to it than we may think at first. Deciphering that meaning is a whole different thing.
But I love how Maggie Stiefvater keeps surprising her readers. Just when you think you’ve got it mostly figured out, you know what kind of story you are reading, something so different happens that the ground gets pulled out from under your feet. Now, some readers may not like this feeling, but I can’t get enough of it. Twist that plot, turn it upside down, tell us all the characters’ secrets. Secrets are a big part of the series but I never had the feeling that a character kept back vital information without good reason. You’ll find no kind wizard reminding the hero that “it’s not time for you to know this yet” or some other bullshit. If somebody keeps a secret, there’s a point to it.
This book also puts more focus on Blue’s family again. With her mother gone missing, things are out of balance in many ways. Blue’s world is naturally shaken, but Maura’s disappearance also affects the balance of magic in her household, it affects Calla and Persephone (both of which get to shine, btw). We see omen after omen of Bad Things To Come. In addition, the Grey Man’s employer has taken it upon himself to solve the mystery surrounding Glendower, seeing as the Grey Man has switched sides. With the introduction of this new villain and his even more terrifying wife, I had plenty to keep me entertained. My nails have been bitten to shreds just thinking about where this mess will lead.
There have also been interesting developments in the Raven Boys’ friendships. Whereas Ronan and Gansey used to be inseparable, Ronan spends much more time with Adam now. Ronan being my favorite anyway, I couldn’t help but get all fuzzy and warm when he shows his kindness in the usual, gruff way, like he is unwilling to admit that he cares for people. He also reveals another secret – a big one – that makes the already complicated plot even more difficult to resolve in a clean manner. Props to the author for not making it easy for herself! But that’s how life is, right? Things don’t always add up nicely, somebody always gets hurt, and wishes just don’t come true.
This book held the perfect balance between advancing the plot, entertaining me on its own merits, and serving as a set-up for the ending. Blue Lily, Lily Blue‘s epilogue was so evil that I understand everybody who’s been screaming for the next book to come out soon. How dare you, Maggie Stiefvater, leave us on a cliffhanger like that? We can expect a lot of things to go wrong in the next and final instalment of the Raven Cycle, that much is certain. But what I’m still pondering in the back of my mind is the outcome of Gansey’s predicted death. I honestly don’t know whether we’ll face a bittersweet ending, a super sad ending or whether Blue has any chance of saving his life somehow. I’m hoping for the best, but suspect that this story will end badly for at least one character, if not more.
And now hurry up and publish The Raven King, okay?
MY RATING: 8/10 – Excellent