MK’s Book Reviews: The Raven King

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I finished this!

He was a book, and he was holding his final pages, and he wanted to get to the end to find out how it went, and he didn’t want it to be over.

Here is what I thought.

There were a lot of beautiful things in this novel, as there were in the previous three. Beautiful prose, bizarre magic, insane imagery, these characters I have come to know and love.

And yet ….

I was a little let down.

And I know that that’s partly because my expectations were sky-high.

I can’t get into why without getting spoiler-y, so SPOILERS below the jump.

Here there be SPOILERS. You have been warned.

The Good:

1. The Characters I love these characters so much.

She felt one thousand years old. She also felt like maybe she was a condescending brat. She wanted her bike. She wanted her friends, who were also one-thousand-year-old condescending brats. She wanted to live in a world where she was surrounded by one-thousand-year-old condescending brats.

Adam and Gansey and Blue and RONAN (my fave) and Piper and the Gray Man and Gwenllian and … I could go on. They’re so well-drawn and so fascinating and I continue to be impressed by just how many lovely unique characters there are in this series, and how Stiefvater is able to draw them all so well.

I, too, am a thousand-year-old condescending brat.

2. Ronan I love Ronan most of all.

“Where the hell is Ronan?” Gansey asked, echoing the words that thousands of humans had uttered since mankind developed speech.

Stiefvater takes the “bad boy” trope and completely turns it on its head with this guy. I love him and his weird powers and his vulnerability and his desires and just everything about him.

3. The prose The writing throughout this series was beautiful.

Once, when Adam had still lived in the trailer park, he had been pushing the lawn mower around the scraggly side yard when he realized that it was raining a mile away. He could smell it, the earthy scent of rain on dirt, but also the electric, restless smell of ozone. And he could see it: a hazy gray sheet of water blocking his view of the mountains. He could track the line of rain traveling across the vast dry field towards him. It was heavy and dark, and he knew he would get drenched if he stayed outside. It was coming from so far away that he had plenty of time to put the mower away and get under cover. Instead, though, he just stood there and watched it approach. Even at the last minute, as he heard the rain pounding the grass flat, he just stood there. He closed his eyes and let the storm soak him.

4. The wisdom

“Here is what I have learned. If you cannot be unafraid–be afraid and happy.”

I read this line at a point in my life that I really, badly needed it, and now I want to frame it and hang it over my bed and I think everyone else should do the same.


When Adam kissed him, it was every mile per hour Ronan had ever gone over the speed limit. It was every window-down, goose-bumps-on-skin, teeth-chattering-cold night drive. It was Adam’s ribs under Ronan’s hands and Adam’s mouth on his mouth, again and again and again. It was stubble on his lips and Ronan having to stop, to get his breath, to restart his heart. They were both hungry animals, but Adam had been starving for far longer.

And the best part is, it didn’t even feel like fan service. It felt natural and organic and it was just so, SO beautiful.

The Less Good

1. New heights of bizarreness Look, I love the weirdness in this series. Love it! But this book was reaching new horror-movie levels of weird shit happening. I kept waiting for there to be a reason for Ronan’s insane creepy mask dreams or the total evisceration of his mother, but when I got to the end I concluded that it had all been somewhat gratuitous. I could have done with less of that and more satisfying plot tying-up.

2. Too much time spent on new characters I didn’t care for Laumonier. I liked Henry Cheng, but it felt a bit “too little, too late”. I would have rather spent more time on other things.

3. The demon I would have much rather the thing they woke up be a real character, with a name and a purpose, instead of some slinking black demon who doesn’t even speak. I was picturing the sleeper being some old sorcerer who would set out to unmake the world, but in a more concrete way.

4. Not enough time spent tying things up Piper died quite abruptly. Matthew and Declan disappeared quite abruptly. The Grey Man left quite abruptly. Gansey died and came back to life quite abruptly. I would have liked more time spent on all these things.

5. Not enough sacrifice With stakes this high, I was sure someone (or several someones) would die. Ronan’s mom was sad, sure. Neeve, meh. Piper, eh. But I thought it would be more. I didn’t cry very much. Sure, I got teary when Gansey died, but he was immediately brought back. It’s weird for me to finish a book I love and not sob hysterically.

6. The climax It felt really anti-climactic, especially compared with the epic cave scene at the end of the third book. I feel like your actual climax to the series should be the most climactic part. Glendower is just dead? That’s it? Gansey immediately comes straight back to life? Just like that? More build-up to that scene! More things happening in that scene!  That is what I wanted.

Despite my complaints, I did love this book, and this series. I need a little bit of a break but I am sure I will reread the entire thing someday from the beginning, and perhaps the second time around the things that made less sense to me will make more sense. Until then…

Did you finish this bizarre and beautiful series? What did you think?

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8 thoughts on “MK’s Book Reviews: The Raven King

  1. HOLYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY spoilers woman! You could have just said people died quickly – you gave away Gansey’s fate!!! ha-ha-ha Yes i was warned but I love your reviews!!


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