Maggie Stiefvater’s four book series, The Raven Cycle, has come to a close with the release of The Raven King. The series follows a group of friends as they search for a long dead/sleeping Welsh King. Along their journey, they’ve made new friends and comrades, created enemies, discovered secrets, and confronted fears. Also, they’re seniors in high school. And kind of magic. In my excitement for the release of The Raven King, I’ve tried to explain this premise to many friends and colleagues, and always feel like I fall short of capturing exactly what these books are.
The night before this book was released, Stiefvater wrote a Facebook note stating:
The Internet widely believes that all authors are fiends who delight in the suffering of readers, but I don’t want readers to be sad. At the end of the Raven Cycle, I want readers…to want…The Raven Cycle has always been a series about what makes a hero and about wanting something more, and while I can’t expect anything and be sure of it, that’s what I hope gets stuck in people’s minds.
As an avid reader of the series, my first thought was, “Of course I’m going to sad-cry! You’re killing Gansey!” Readers know that this book has to hold Gansey’s death, and Blue’s kiss with her true love, which had been predicted to be one in the same.
From here on out, there will be spoilers:
The Raven King focuses on the final hunt for Glendower. Blue, Gansey, Ronan, and Adam are each working out their own strengths when it comes to the quest. Blue and Gansey are secretly dating. Gansey is trying to keep Ronan in school. Blue and Adam are trying to find the perfect way to ask Glendower to save Gansey, without him knowing. Noah is decaying even further. All of these different plot lines are building, as a different, and more pressing issue becomes apparent. Blue Lily, Lily Blue ended with the return of Blue’s father and the reappearance of Neeve, who teams up with Piper Grenmantle. They have woken a demon who favors Piper. She’s decided to auction the demon off as an artifact, and is drawing a dangerous crowd to Henrietta. The demon is also drawing on the energy of Cabeswater, and unmaking it in the process. This has serious repercussions for Adam and Ronan, specifically, who are tied mentally and physically to the magic forest.
This book also introduced some new characters, and made minor characters more important. Blue’s father has proven to be a coward, and a frustration to all the psychics at 300 Fox Way. There are new villainous figures who are just as bizarre and disturbing as the ones who’ve come before them. Lastly, Henry, who appeared in Blue Lily, a Lily Blue, is revealed to be a much larger player in the magic game than Gansey had previously known. He adds a new dynamic to the group, but one that works well. I love his addition because in most teen series, there are a group of friends in the beginning, and that’s the group. There’s no room for additions, unless a character needs a love interest. Henry shows up and becomes part of the gang, because this is life, and in life, people make new friends.
What was great about reading The Raven King was that it didn’t feel like a “final book.” It’s always annoying when a series consists of 200 page books, and then the last book is released and it’s 600 pages (see Winter review). That’s not a well written series. The Raven Cycle has been setting up and tying off story lines throughout all four books equally, so this book feels appropriate as an ending.
When I finished The Raven King, I was initially disappointed by the ending. I felt that the main groups’ ending gave closure, but readers were left with no idea what became of minor characters. Then I realized, at the start of the novel, the psychics at 300 Fox Way did a tarot card reading that essentially answered all my questions. No, specific details were not given, but they weren’t necessary. After this epiphany, I found I was incredibly satisfied with the ending.
Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven King was a solid fourth and final book. The writing was magical and poetic, and all the storylines got where they needed to be. I would love to see a spinoff happen, maybe featuring The Gray Man. Whether that happens or not, I’m always excited for what Stiefvater has coming.
What did you think of The Raven King? Would you like to see a spinoff book? Let me know in the comments!