Title: The Raven King
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Series: The Raven Cycle, #4
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Release Date: April 26th 2016
Over the course of four books, Maggie Stiefvater has presented readers with a truly unique story and produced some of the most complex characters I’ve ever come across. The Raven Cycle revolves around a group of teens on a quest to find the missing Welsh King Glendower. But the path has never been straight and their journey has led them to unexpected places. The Raven King, the fourth and final installment, is darker in tone compared to the previous books, as the end of their search approaches. Other, more sinister parties have become interested in the mystery of the ley lines and the promise of a favor for waking a king. A different kind of magic has also been awakened, it’s begun to devour and corrupt the magic of Cabeswater, but it’s power cannot be contained and it threatens to consume everything. As the characters learned in Blue Lily, Lily Blue, when dealing with the unknowable, death is always a possibility and time is running out for one of them.
There is so much to admire about the way Stiefvater writes her characters. Whether it’s Gansey, Blue, Ronan, or Adam, her characters are continually evolving. They struggle with how they see themselves, where their place is in the world and how they relate to others. Gansey and Blue have long been defined by their families, but have sought to make a name for themselves. Fate has also played a prominent role in both their lives. Gansey has spent the last seven years knowing that it is his destiny to find Glendower. Blue has spent her life knowing that if she kisses her true love, he’ll die. While one is determined to see his destiny come true, the other has never been able to accept hers. Adam and Ronan’s abilities have set them apart from the rest of the world. While the former’s connection with the Cabeswater grows stronger, Ronan’s dream life once again begins to bleed into the real world. Their gifts are a different kind of burden than what Gansey and Blue bear with their destinies. I loved seeing Adam and Ronan exploring their power together, relying on one another and learning to embrace who they are. Ronan’s dreams have always been fascinating, but in The Raven King, they take on a more sinister shape, reflecting the destructive magic that has been unleashed into the world. I can’t say enough about how much I’ve enjoyed seeing the relationship between these four grow and change. There’s jealousy and resentment, secrets and differences in opinion, but there’s also loyalty, love and self-sacrifice.
The Raven King brings together a number of characters, both old and new. Henry Cheng, who we have only caught small glimpses of in the previous books, becomes a key character. He’s snarky and flippant, but this façade hides a secret that unexpectedly ties him to Blue and the boys’ story. New players like the Laumonier triplets, who work as a singular unit, are as interesting as they are unnerving. One of my favorite things about this series is 300 Fox Way and the wonderful women that make up Blue’s home. After the loss in the previous book, the equilibrium of the house is broken as everyone tries to come to grips with what happened, at the same time knowing they are all hurtling toward a potentially catastrophic future.
The Raven King exemplifies everything about the series that has made it so enjoyable and though this ending is bittersweet, I know it won’t be long before I revisit these characters again.