Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater

Blue Lily Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater

Title: Blue Lily, Lily Blue
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Series: The Raven Cycle, #3

The search for Glendower has almost come to fruition when it seems that Cabeswater is finally willing to give up its most prized secret. But the Welsh king isn’t the only one Blue and her Raven Boys are searching for. Blue’s mother, Maura, has disappeared, leaving behind an enigmatic note. As the search continues each member of the group is faced with their own challenges and many of their relationships become strained. Prophecies abound, warning the group that their quest will lead them into danger and Blue struggles with the knowledge that one of their deaths has already been foretold.

“I saw him, Blue thought. I saw his spirit when he died, and this was not what he was wearing. This is not how it happens. It’s not now, it’s later, it’s later —“

Before I started reading Blue Lily, Lily Blue, I understood there was a possibility that I wouldn’t be able to articulate how I felt about it because I’ve become so emotionally invested in these characters that at times it even seems fanatical to me. So please bear with me as I try not to gush too much over this series.

Maggie Stiefvater’s Blue Lily, Lily Blue, the third book in The Raven Cycle series, brings our characters on the cusp of discovery while also moving relationships forward and some a little backward. If I had to describe the relationships in this series in one word, it would be “complicated.” This isn’t because there is unnecessary romantic entanglements or petty jealousy, this is because the characters in this series are so well-developed that tension and contrition are a given. Richard Campbell Gansey III is, by birth and personality, their leader. He propels the group forward in their search for Glendower. He’s the glue that keeps them all together, his enthusiasm a driving-force. They listen to him, trust him, and in those moments when he seems less than godlike, they are rattled. Gansey means the world to a lot of characters and I’m not sure they know who they would be without him.

Adam Parrish has gone from a boy desperate for prestige, never allowing himself to accept handouts even when saying no results in pain, to a boy who gave himself over to Cabeswater and is just discovering that he isn’t as powerless as thought he was. Ronan Lynch is contemptuous on his good days, but at the same time you see just how much the people around him mean to him. He’s willing to go to great lengths to protect the ones he loves. Both of these characters are far more dangerous and a lot more powerful than I’ve ever given them credit for, and I’m not sure if this is a good thing.

Blue Sargent, like Adam, does not come from a family of wealth. The difference between the two is Adam has always been determined to achieve affluence while Blue has accepted her economical limitations. But in Blue Lily, Lily Blue we see a different Blue emerge. She wants more than what her circumstances would allow, and this desire has spilled over into her relationship with Gansey. And if you haven’t read the first two books, I suggest you stop reading now. In The Raven Boys and The Dream Thieves, it seemed that Blue sort of accepted that though it was going to hurt, Gansey’s death was still going to happen. In this book Blue is no longer satisfied with what fate has in store and wants desperately to believe destiny can be changed because no one wants to lose Gansey.

There are so many other characters I could discuss and that is the beauty of Maggie Stiefvater’s writing. She has found a way to write characters that are essentially doomed by a variety of circumstances–by their social standing, their own desires, their destinies, their own natures, their hearts, their relationships–and made each inexplicably real to the reader that I find myself hoping for a happily-ever-after that Stiefvater has never promised. Yet I still keep reading and hoping. The Raven Cycle series is very much focused on its characters: how they relate to each other, how their perceptions of one another impact their lives, and how these perceptions are either false or incomplete. I am continuously amazed by the depth Stiefvater is able to infuse into these characters and now I will be suffering for another year waiting for the fourth and final book.

Rating: 5/5

★★★★★

The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

Title: The Dream Thieves
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Series: The Raven Cycle, #2

“She recognized the strange happiness that came from loving something without knowing why you did, that strange happiness that was sometimes so big that it felt like sadness.”

-The Raven Boys

I begin this review with a quote from the first book in the series entitled The Raven Boys because it perfectly sums up how I feel about The Dream Thieves and its predecessor. The second book picks up where we left off with the group’s search for the Welsh king Glendower, but the search goes awry when the paranormal ley line loses power and mayhem ensues when a secret becomes much bigger than the one who holds it.

I keep telling people that these books do something to me. And I don’t have the right words to explain what it is about these particular books that have me in such misery and rapture. The impractical side of me wishes desperately to find her own magic, so she can find a way into these pages or find a way to take the world found in them and bring them to life. The practical part of me is telling me to calm down and enjoy the magic as any reader does when met with something special, but I don’t feel like listening to her right now. I almost feel incapable of writing this review because I feel all at once anxious and desiccated and euphoric.

“In that moment Blue was a little in love with all of them. Their magic. Their quest. Their awfulness and strangeness. Her raven boys.”

Have you ever read a book where it’s hard to distinguish one character from another? No one has a clear, decisive identity and as a result the characters seem to bleed into each other? The Dream Thieves does not suffer from this problem. Gansey, Ronan, Adam, and Blue are all distinct from each other with their own desires, secrets and motivations. They are dynamic and compelling, making you read yet another chapter even if you have to get up early the next morning. Even minor characters like Kavinsky and the Gray Man offer more in their limited appearances than many main characters in other books. In fact I wouldn’t mind reading a book featuring the Gray Man (Are you listening Maggie Stiefvater?).

I’m convinced Maggie Stiefvater is a Greywaren herself and dreamt up a book that would completely undo its readers, and thus brought this one out to beguile us all.

Read The Raven Boys and then The Dream Thieves. Fall in love with these characters and enjoy the wretched jubilation that follows.

Rating: 5/5

★★★★★