Audiobook Review: The Raven King

The Raven King
The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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.

warning: review might be slightly (very slightly) spoiler-y.

Mind.Blown.

Honestly, anything I say here won’t be enough to fully explain my gushing feelings over this perfect finale to a series which quickly climbed to the top of my Favorites (move over, Harry Potter & Twillight) and besides, I am still too overwhelmed to be completely objective. But I’ll try – because I owe it to this brilliant book. So, at the end of BLLB, Piper had woken the third sleeper, which turned out to be something quite malevolent as evidenced by the ramping up of the horror scenes in this book (really, really scary, man!). But at the start, Gangsey is just recuperating from the last book and planning out their next move. The end of the school year is imminent, Gansey’s death is imminent, Noah’s decay is imminent and the even the psychics see only death and destruction in the future. Slowly, the story shapes around the backstories of other ‘minor’ characters, like the women of 300 Fox Way; Maura, Calla, and Persephone’s first meeting, Declan Lynch, Neeve, Noah (*sob*) and Cabeswater, among others.

This being a finale book, a lot of threads had to be brought together, and so I was pleasantly surprised to see the thread of Henry Cheng gaining prominence in this intricate tapestry that is the Raven Cycle. He was a parallel for Kavinsky, in the way that he ruled a kingdom of his own – but the key difference is that he didn’t really want to rule, he wanted to belong. His and Gansey’s and Blue’s friendship develops so organically, that I was charmed – first by the way it changed Gansey and Blue purely into these simple ‘normal’ teenagers (as against to the ‘ley line hunters’ they are mostly when they are in Gangsey), and then the chemistry they had with each other, a humorous and brilliant thing. This being a finale book, it was also a book of declarations of love, of confrontations of love, and two cute and painful relationships developing – Blue and Gansey, and Adam and Ronan, the latter especially because it is so very new and so very fragile, but also something you can see being very profound.

Romantic relationships aside, these books have also heavily focused on non-romantic ones, meaning that they get equal importance in the Raven Cycle. One such relationship was Adam and Cabeswater, the latter always being a source of comfort to the former, and it is intensely evident in this book. Their interactions brought me to tears at some points, in the way Adam loves Cabeswater and vice versa. I mean, she wrote a brilliant relationship between an abused teenage boy and a sentient magical forest! The other beautiful relationship(s) revolve around Blue – with the woman of 300 Fox Way and with Ronan; the former we knew was always so heart-warming, and the latter being extremely adorable in how Ronan wants to dream eye cream for her! Speaking of Ronan, he acquires another member for his family and seeing how Adam saw that relationship and understood it, made me feel so many emotions I can’t process. And Adam got his closure at the end of the book, in a way that makes his journey from the first to the last such a pivotal facet of this series.

The ending – well, some of it were things I expected and some were not. There was the expected death and the unexpected ones, but it was the ones right at the end of the book that made me cry out the most. Mostly because we didn’t really get goodbyes – in either case, and because it was so damn sad. Speaking of goodbyes, there really aren’t any. The epilogue skips to months later, for the proper ending for the main characters, but throughout the book, endings were given out to others. There is the promise of hope and adventure, and one part of me really doesn’t want this beautiful world to end.

All this was composed (yes, composed because this book is beautifully lyrical with its parallels and the repetition of phrases to show emphasis) in a articulate and wonderful prose, with much of the plot happening between the lines. There is a magical quality to that, because each time you re-read these books, a turn of phrase or a particular quote suddenly comes to light as relevant or a clever bit of foreshadowing; you can re-read it over and over and find something new each time. Overall, this series is brilliantly constructed, with a certain circularity to the events (Raven Cycle, ha!) that when you have the whole story laid out as I have now with this final one, I can only respond with – Mind.Blown.

Finally, considering this was an audiobook that I was reading, mentioning the brilliant narration of Will Patton feels important. He has a very good voice, and he lends animation and character to his reading, with his various tones for every character, with those accents (I laughed out loud for Laumonier calling out ‘Piper’) and with every emotion enmeshed even when it is not actual dialogue. Sadly, this is the only YA series he has narrated, which is a crying shame, because he has been the best I have heard so far.

In conclusion, I say – “You know you’ve read a good book when you turn the last page and feel a little as if you have lost a friend.”

Previous books in series

The Raven Boys  The Dream Thieves  Blue Lily, Lily Blue

View all my reviews

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