The Raven Boys - Maggie Stiefvater Every now and then, a book attacks me and holds on tight and when I finish with it, it refuses to let me go. That’s the case with the first book in the Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater, whom I declare to be my new favourite author. I came to this conclusion not far in, primarily because of her unique way of moulding her characters and settings, bringing everything literally to life. (Yes I know what “literally” means. I use it within the context of the story and the magic of Cabeswater.)

I’ve written off some authors because they obsess with describing everything with pretty metaphors that leave the plot behind. Here, the plot and characters are swept along in a river of descriptions that don’t so much use adjectives or comparisons, but exclusions – descriptions of what the character is not – or things they do or collect that define them. And most often, their actions, gestures and reactions. Because of this, her characters and places always give me a sense of movement, or in the case of Ronan, movement that could come at any moment. By far my favourite character, Ronan is a bundle of venom, poised like a sharp-clawed cat about to strike at any moment. Yet, Stiefvater also gives him the perfect amount of vulnerability and harsh truth to make him more than just the bitter character that should be detested or pitied.

Sometimes I got so wrapped up in her depictions that when I shook myself from their hypnotic power, I was afraid that I’d been carried away and missed what was going on. But nope. Everything was still clear and enticing and as the mystery deepened, I was pulled right along with it.

This is the story of Blue Sargent, a young adult with the ability to strengthen the psychic powers of the women around her, but lacking in those abilities herself. From a very young age, her fate – her curse – was revealed to her: true love’s kiss would bring the death of that person. (Sorry Disney.) Blue does not stress over this destiny until she meets Gansey’s spirit on the Corpse Road, and later meets Gansey himself, who turns out to be one of the dreaded Raven Boys of Aglionby Academy.

This is a young adult book and before I scare some of you away with the seemingly obvious sickly sweet romance plot, allow me to assure you that this is anything but the case. First of all, I really liked the maturity with which Steifvater presents the young adults in the book. The writing style is respectful of the teens Stiefvater writes about, as well as those who might be reading, while still appealing to me as an adult.

Secondly, there’s Gansey himself. He’s a young man born into generations of privilege to the point that he doesn’t understand how his offers of money to those less fortunate can be taken as deeply offensive. He has a good heart and his mind functions on a strong sense of right and wrong and of concrete evidence, even when dealing with the unknown, such as his obsession. Somewhere along the way, I equated Gansey to Bruce Wayne (sorry, Gansey) for the way he gathers those in need to him and they all look to him for command, if not support, and how he can shift into his rich boy persona to handle a situation, but his true self is the one obsessed with finding ley lines and the secret of a dead king.

Gansey and Blue are destined to meet, obviously, but I loved the way everything wrapped together. Nothing was extraneous or added to mislead. And when new elements popped up, they were shocking, culminating in a tense ending. Or rather, the beginning. This is the first in a the Raven Cycle and the end of The Raven Boys works like a fantastic door, opening onto all sorts of new mysteries that I’m really excited to find out about. But as if I needed more motivation, the very last line ensured that I will be grabbing book 2 as soon as I can.

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