These books are so good that I can’t possibly describe how great they are.
But, I’m going to try my best so here goes.
You know that warm, nostalgic feeling you get when you return to a place that holds so many happy memories for you? The place is usually not that interesting, and often what you did there was not very interesting either. In fact, the memories are sometimes not entirely happy. But, it gives you this warm sense of nostalgia for a different time and the people you were with.
That’s how The Raven Cycle makes me feel.
When I picked up the first book I was not convinced that it would be anything special. ‘Girl is going to meet the love of her life and if they kiss, he will die‘. There’s also some shit about welsh kings and magic and psychics. Nothing about The Raven Boys stood out to me above any other book.
I was wrong.
I guess a small blurb about what does happen in the story is necessary so here I go, as best I can.
Blue Sargent lives with her mother and her psychic companions in Henrietta, Virginia. Blue herself is not psychic but instead amplifies the psychic power of others. Every year Blue and her mother go to observe the ghosts of the townspeople who will die in the next year. This particular year Blue sees a boy in an Aglinsby Academy uniform walk by; his name is Gansey, and he is going to die.
Richard Gansey III attends a school for stupid rich boys in Henrietta, Virginia called Aglinsby Academy. He gets into shenanigans with his buddies: Ronan, Adam, and Noah. His life is pretty normal for a stupid rich boy. Except for the part where he’s searching for a dead Welsh king buried somewhere in Henrietta (supposedly).
All four books are essentially about a group of teens searching for this hidden Welsh king and all the shenanigans they get into a long the way. The plot isn’t particularly complex or interesting at a glance, it’s the characters that really make this series a gem.
You’ve got Blue Sargent. She lives with her family of psychics at 300 Foxway. She’s going to kill her true love with a kiss (or so every psychic she’s ever met says) and she’s harboring the secret that Gansey is going to die in the next year.
Richard Gansey III nearly died as a child but his life was saved by a magical force who told him to find Glendower. His search brought him to Henrietta where gets into all kinds of crazy adventures with his friends Ronan, Adam, and Noah.
Ronan Lynch lives with Gansey since his father died and he was forced to move out of his childhood home. He doesn’t go to class and frequently gets into arguments with his older brother about his future. He’s especially important after the second book.
Adam Parish attends Aglinsby Academy on a scholarship and lives with his parents in a trailer park. He befriends Blue first and they date briefly at the beginning of the series. His role also becomes more important later in the series.
Noah Czerny, a quiet mystery who opens up to the others as the series progresses.
As the series goes on, more and more magic is revealed and the characters become more entangled in the mysterious goings-on in Henrietta. I think most of the appeal is that it has compelling characters who form very real relationships and have very real problems hidden behind a facade of magic and adventure.
I think the part that appeals to me the most is that Blue’s family is not a traditional one. Her home is filled with her mother and her mother’s friends and they all take care of each other and support each other. Blue also finds a similar kind of family with the boys, who all support and take care of each other in different ways (this becomes more apparent as the series moves on).
I give this series 8/10. The characters are great, Sitefvater’s prose is fantastic (though a bit flowery so if that isn’t your thing you might not like it), and the plot is engaging enough that it brings the best out in the characters. It certainly deserves the praise it gets and I recommend giving the first book a shot to see if it’s for you.