The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The thing about this series is that each book has started off beautifully, lost a lot of steam in the end, and then ramped things up again going into the final 50-100 pages or so. The Raven King is no exception. I was afraid that the series would end quite underwhelmingly for a while, and then, boom, demonic possession and ley line magic all over again!
The writing's as beautiful as ever, and the magic's definitely there. But this book isn't really perfect, because it interferes with the characters we know and love so much by adding Henry Cheng, who's got little to do with the story - and, from what I've seen of other reviews, he's not terribly beloved by the fans either. There's also the much-telegraphed death at the end, which didn't do much for me in the feels department because I don't care for that particular character nearly as much as the rest of the book's heroes. And as for shipping, while I'm not terribly invested in it for this series, I'm still a bit disappointed that mine was grounded in favor of a more beloved couple. Don't get me wrong, I'm happy for the legions of Pynch fans. Frankly, though, I thought there wasn't enough build-up for Ronan and Adam to believably pair up. I thought Adam had much better chemistry with Blue, and his encounters with Ronan feel more like him experimenting with his sexuality than pursuing a meaningful romantic and/or sexual relationship. Oh well. I'm sure Stiefvater had it planned long in advance, even before the fandom embraced it so strongly. Shippers gonna ship, and they may feel free to do so.
So...overall, not the best series ever, but the whole thing certainly merited a rediscovery on my part. I think I'll do the same rediscovery thing with Daughter of Smoke and Bone next, since I abandoned that book after only a few pages the way I did my first time reading The Raven Boys. And as for my ongoing efforts to land an agent for Red Rain, there's enough similarities in tone between my book and Stiefvater's (particularly in the small-town boarding-school setting, Mundane Fantastic style, and boyishly funny dialogue) that I'll now use it as a comp title when querying.
And thus, to The Raven Cycle, I say ave atque vale.
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