Review: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

April 12, 2013 / 28 Comments / Review, Uncategorized

The Raven Boys
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Format: eBook
Source: Bought on Amazon
Publication date: September 18, 2012
My rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

“There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve,” Neeve said. “Either you’re his true love . . . or you killed him.”

It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive.

Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.

His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.

But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.

For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.

From Maggie Stiefvater, the bestselling and acclaimed author of the Shiver trilogy and The Scorpio Races, comes a spellbinding new series where the inevitability of death and the nature of love lead us to a place we’ve never been before.


This is one of those books I really wasn’t sure about when I was told I had to read it for the Toronto Forever Young Adult Book Club. I am SO happy to say that I was totally wrong about it. This is one of the best, most creative paranormal books I’ve ever read. It’s unique, it’s different, and the writing is BEAUTIFUL.

The concept. Can I just say right here that this was not what I was expecting at all? There’s a quest, and medieval history, and a little bit of mystery and intrigue, and awesome magical elements. All of that was awesome, and this is one of the few books where I really couldn’t predict what was going to happen next, which I really, really liked.

I know quite a few people are looking for romance in this book. I mean, with a synopsis like that, you kind of expect there to be swoony moments with Blue and Gansey, right? And yeah, there are a few moments that are pretty intense, but it wasn’t what I expected. Stiefvater is really going for the slow build in this novel, and I really liked how it focused more on the characters and their problems than it did on the romance. I suspect the romance is still coming, so just hang on until the next book.

Honestly, there were only two little teensy things that bothered me with this book: one, it was long, and while I kind of loved the slow pacing and the build up of tension, it’s not something I see a lot in YA, so I could see some teens getting a little frustrated.

The other thing that kind of bothered me is really my own fault. I didn’t really know this book was a series (I think I was confusing it with Stiefvater’s stand-alone, The Scorpio Races), and when I found out that it was a series with THREE sequels, I was like,

I think I’m having a bit of series fatigue.

That said, [VERY slight spoiler] I’m glad it didn’t end on a huge cliffhanger so that I’m not feeling that achy annoyance that I normally feel. I will definitely be picking up book 2, The Dream Thieves, but I’m grateful that I’m not on the edge of my seat waiting for it.


Gorgeous Writing For Literary People: It’s so dark and Southern Gothic-y. Stiefvater’s
description and word choice is precise, fanciful, and it just
works perfectly with the setting. I could see the vintage-y warehouse
where the Raven Boys live, and the stateliness of Aglionby, their
school, and the quirkiness of too many people living at Blue’s home.

Epic Quest: I love action-adventure with a little bit of mystery. I always loved the idea of Link and Zelda, and that’s what The Raven Boys feels like to me: a quest for truth, for identity, and one that will change the world and history as we know it. I LOVE IT.

Complex Characters and Relationships: Much of what I love from good contemporaries is that they focus on characters and how they relate. The Raven Boys and Blue felt so real to me by the end of this. I wanted to be their friend, I understood that how they worked together went deeper than even the book could explore.

Psychic Magic: This is not a thing I usually like. But the magic in this book is so cool and circular and RIGHT that I fell in love with the tarot cards and the witchy symbolism. It just worked.

The Final Word

With very strong writing and incredible characterization, and a compelling medieval-inspired, magical plot, The Raven Boys is one of the most creative, and best executed YAs I’ve read this year. If you’re a contemp reader, or someone into literary fiction, and looking for something different, I highly recommend The Raven Boys.

Have you read THE RAVEN BOYS? Are you eagerly awaiting THE DREAM THIEVES? Who’s your favourite Raven Boy? Are you usually a contemp reader or a paranormal reader, or something else entirely? Sound off in the comments!

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28 responses to “Review: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

  1. I haven't read this sadly. 🙁 I tried reading Maggie Stiefvater's Shiver! But I guess I just don't like werewolves. I don't know when I have the courage to try her books out again! Nice review by the way. And oh, I hate that feeling too! Reading a book without knowing it's in a series!

  2. Great review. I really enjoyed The Raven Boys. It was the first book by this author that I read. I cannot wait for the sequel and I liked Gansey the best. I like both contemp and paranormal YA.

  3. We've already talked about this book a lot but I definitely agree it was excellent but could feel overly long at times. But I think the Southern Gothic feel to it is one of my favourite things!

  4. I have The Raven Boys on my shelf, and I really can't wait to read it already! It sounds so good. I love that the characters are so well drawn. Best part in a novel, for me. And I love that it is a unique, original concept. That is too rare these days! Thanks for the great review!

  5. Ash

    I haven't read Raven Boys yet, a lo f reviews i read has been putting me off it. The concept is good but somehow most bloggers seem to think the book fell flat. But your review makes me want to read it, so I'm going to give it a try.

  6. I have not read this book but after reading your review I definitely want to read this. This sounds like and interesting story. Thank you for your honest review.

  7. I've had this book on my shelf for a little while now and keep meaning to read it. I'm glad to hear you enjoyed it and will definitely put it on my summer reading list when I have more time to get through it. Thanks for your honest thoughts!

  8. I haven't read Raven Boys yet, but it's on my TBR shelf and I'm really looking forward to it. I love Maggie Stiefvater books exactly because of her beautiful writing skills. I think the cover is pretty cool looking, too.

  9. Your review has pushed my action button. I seriously have to get moving on The Raven Boys. It's been on my TBR/Wishlist for quite some time. I'm hoping to read it before The Dream Thieves comes out in September.

  10. Suz

    This book is in my TBR pile and I was curious about what people thought of it. After reading your review, I'll have to move it to the top! It had everything – mystery, surprises, magic and great writing!! I can't wait to read it! Thanks for your comments!

  11. thank you a lot for this nohest and complete review… i do have an arc i was gifted by of friend for this one but i hesitate before reading it..; i knew it was a series thought ( i still want scorpio races too by the way) but that made me afraid of cliffhangers now in your review you said it's not a huge one but i guess that means there is still one so i better wait until i get book2 first but i 'm really planning to read this ( i didn't know it was going to be a 4books series though i was thinking about a trilogy so now even longer to wait)

  12. Since you highly recommend I will have to read. I've seen a lot of good review for this, but yours gave me the extra push. I think your very honest on your books review.

  13. I agree that the thing that really stands out when reading this book is the how beautiful the writing is. She has an exceptional sense of character development as well, and the intricacies of the interactions and relationships between the characters is incredibly well done. I only read this book recently, and I can't wait to get my hands on the rest of the series!

  14. I’ve read a lot of review, and let me just say that I LOVE your “bonuses” section. That is so neat! I’m reading this book now, but if I wasn’t, your little bonus bit would’ve totally convinced me to grab the book STAT. Great review! Can’t wait to see what happens next in this story a;lsdjf

    • Ha! Thanks! I keep thinking about getting rid of it because I always feel like my posts are too long, but I think it’s such a good way to give a little taste of the book for people who don’t want to read a ton of text. Thanks for reaffirming that for me. Hope you enjoy The Raven Boys – it turned me into a Stiefvater fan for life.

  15. Sarah W.

    I have read The Raven Boys, and I can’t believe I haven’t followed up with the rest of the series. I keep meaning to, because I really liked it, but I just haven’t managed it. I have found Maggie Stiefvater hit and miss for me. I did not like the Shiver series at all, but I adored The Scorpio Races. Now I want to see how this series ends.

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