The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater
What is the difference between a dream and reality? Does our subconscious mind have the ability to alter the physical world around us? If so, then how do your thoughts affect dreams, and what affect does that have on your physical reality? When I read fiction, these are the types of questions I want the author to evoke from my mind, and Maggie Stiefvater has done just that with her four-part series, The Raven Cycle.
I love reading about stuff that makes you think. Also, when I read fiction, my absolute favorite type of story is one that makes you feel like you are almost on the verge of non-fiction (and things get even crazier when you start to blur the lines). This series does not blur those lines, but with the addition of dreams and magic to the mix, it creates a setting that your mind just gets utterly sucked into and allows you to travel to a different place. The Raven Cycle is a prime example of why my favorite kind of fiction/fantasy is magical realism. You aren’t in some sort of medieval faerie land with goblins and extraordinary super powers — you are in the modern day real world with psychics and ghosts — things that don’t seem too far out of the realm of possibility.
I am a total sucker for “dark academia” and found it nearly impossible to put these books down. Since I have been an adult, it has been a long time since I have read an entire book cover-to-cover in less than a week, but I finished this entire series probably less than 3 weeks — which is saying a lot for a guy with a wife and 2 kids, a full-time job, and quite a few other hobbies. A series like this is a rarity — something you come across every few years or so (if you are lucky), where you feel so connected to the characters and enmeshed in their world that you actually feel a bit sad and depressed after you finish reading, because it has become such a staple during that very short time in your life, and without it, you can’t help but feel like something is missing for a few days until you get back into the normal flow of life.
I’m not going to go to the trouble of providing the official synopses for these four books, because it won’t do them justice, but I will give a brief description and won’t offer up any spoilers. So basically, Blue Sargent is somewhat of the protagonist in this series, but not to the point that you feel like the book is entirely about her. Each major character plays a major role in these books, and you get a very detailed perspective from all of them. Blue lives in a house full of her psychic relatives in Virginia, and by a strange turn of events finds her life tangled up with the lives of a group of dudes that go to a local private school. One of these guys has been following a leyline all across the world, which led him to this small town that holds many secrets in its depths. There are dreams and magic and Tarot and caves and all sorts of twists and turns. Such a great read.
My twisted way of rating this series…
My wife read this series a few years ago and kept recommending it to me over and over, and from her description, it only seemed slightly interesting to me. However, after finally giving it a shot, I was blown away. So here are my ratings, which I gave each individual book on GoodReads:
- The Raven Boys – 4/5 stars
- The Dream Thieves – 5/5 stars
- Blue Lily, Lily Blue – 4/5 stars
- The Raven King – 4/5 stars
Let me explain… Under ordinary circumstances, I would have probably have given each of these books 5 stars. That being said, the second book in the series (The Dream Thieves) was so incredible for me personally, that I had to make a total re-evaluation of every other book in the series. If I could have given that one in particular a score out of 10, it very well could have been a 10. But alas, the ratings system only goes to 5. So taking into consideration just how good The Dream Thieves was in comparison to the other books in the series, I had to give all of the other books 4 out of 5 stars.
That being said, I have to give the entire series as a whole a perfect 5 stars, because The Dream Thieves was so good, that it should bring the collective score all the way to the top. That’s pretty much all I have to say about it, so just go read it so you can experience the magic.