Book Review: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater + Giveaway

Posted 09/25/2012 by alicemarvels in Fantasy


Publisher: Scholastic
Release Date: September 18, 2012
Page Count: 408
Synopsis: For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.


vibrant characters; atmospheric writing; original plot with surprising twists


guaranteed Book One in a Series Blues....the story cuts off RIGHT when it's getting so awesome you can't put it down.

The Raven Boys hits all the right notes for an engrossing Southern gothic / buddy adventure.

“There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve,” Neeve said. “Either you’re his true love . . . or you killed him.”

Blue Sargent is not a psychic, she just lives with a house full of them. Blue’s mother takes her along on St. Mark’s Eve to see the soon-to-be-dead souls walk the Corpse Road outside their small town—partially for some mother-daughter bonding, but mostly because Blue magnifies psychic energy.

When Blue sees the ghost of a soon-to-be-dead Raven Boy (the nickname for students at the ritzy all-boys Aglionby Academy), she knows it’s a Big Deal. Blue never sees anything psychic or ghostly in nature, and this calls to mind the slightly annoying psychic prediction that has followed her around her whole life—that she’ll kill her true love if she kisses him. Is this faceless boy, who will be dead in one year, meant to be her true love?

Meanwhile this boy, Gansey, and his three best friends, Adam, Ronan and Noah, are on a quest to find the elusive burial site of Glendower, a Welsh king whose body may or may not have been moved to Virginia and rested along a ley line, or a line of great psychic energy. The boys may each have their own reasons for pursuing this seemingly impossible quest, but they work together as a team, with Gansey acting as their leader.

The Raven Boys is unlike any YA novel I’ve read in recent memory. (Though neither was Maggie Stiefvater’s last book, The Scorpio Races.) I’ll give her this—when Maggie wants to tell a story, it is HER kind of story, and she tells it however she damn well pleases. The Raven Boys is a leisurely-paced, atmospheric story that hits all the right notes for an engrossing Southern gothic / buddy adventure.

While it does end with several questions (BIG ones) still lingering, it feels like a complete novel—most of the urgent book one plot lines are wrapped up. But the story’s major plot threads are left tantalizingly out of reach, and you’ll be ready for book two immediately. 

The Raven Boys & Blue

Just one of the boys….

The number one thing I always think after reading a Maggie novel, is DAMN can that woman write characters. Good or evil, starring or tertiary, they’re always so vibrant and alive, and self-motivated—it feels like they’ve crawled off the page and taken up residence in your mind.  You start wondering ridiculous things, like what are they going to study when they go to college? what would they think of The Hunger Games? would they have laughed at the Gersberms girl? etc.

Gansey, Adam, Ronan and Noah could not be more different, but they compliment each other and create this unbreakable pack that seems held together by the sheer cosmic rightness of their friendship. It’s like Stand By Me level friendship. These guys definitely deserve their own movie, where they can banter and fight and make up and chase crazy legends together on a big screen.

When Blue enters the picture, it does not seem likely that she’d be in danger of falling in “true love,” or even in true friendship with any of these guys. But gradually she warms to them, to the point where she almost becomes an honorary Raven Boy in the hunt for Glendower. It’s a lot of fun to see her go from repeating mantras like this:

“One, stay away from boys, because they were trouble. And two, stay away from Aglionby boys, because they were bastards.”


My boys! Blue thought, first in a huff, then flattered, then in a huff again.

The Real Psychics of Henrietta

Shizz is about to hit the fan for you, my friend. That'll be $20.

Blue’s house is a rambunctious hive of activity, most of it wacky and offbeat because she lives with several psychic ladies. While her mother Maura tries to shield her from some of the magical coming storm in Henrietta by getting all parental on her when it comes to the Raven Boys, most of her psychic housemates have a bemused detached attitude toward her, that allows them to enable Blue’s Glendower/Raven Boys curiosity while offering up frustratingly vague, yet meaningful advice in passing.

It’s fun to see these psychic ladies hover on the fringes of the big ley line hut, offering clues or clamming up whenever it suits them.


Forbidden Romance

It doesn't get more forbidden than "your kiss could KILL me."

This is not a super sexy-times heavy book (killer kisses tend to throw cold water all over sexy-times), but it does contain the suggestion of forbidden romantic entanglements to come. Prophecies and friendships will be tested for sure.

This aspect to the series story will undoubtedly be played up in later books, but for now we get a few maddening hints and glimpses into possible romantic futures for Blue.



Academic Mystery

Journals and maps and gadgets, oh my!

Gansey is clearly trying to beat out all other YA fictional characters as the heir to Indiana Jones academic adventure throne. His obsession with Glendower borders on mania—he fills notebooks with sketches and research and maps in the hopes of locating this lost buried king. His friends indulge and share in his obsession, and the group is either researching or scouting for Glendower during most of their free time. This quest requires all the tools in a good academic quester’s arsenal—ancient language skills, cartography, knowledge of local and ancient lore, and a certain willingness to ignore the threat of bodily harm.



Ley lines are not good for the complexion.

Like many Southern towns, Henrietta is a study in privilege and destitution living side by side.  But even more remarkable and interesting are the spooky occurences in this town. Ley lines and almost-ghosts and all-the-way-ghosts contribute to an overall sense of dark possibility in the story. There is clearly a lot of magic, both currently in play and lying dormant in this town and its environs, and where there is great magic and power to be had, there is also great danger, both human and supernatural in nature. Several unsettling mysteries begin in this book, and not all of them will be solved by the last page.


If you’re a fan of The Scorpio Races, you will most likely find this book as enchanting, if not as concise and satisfying (merely a standalone vs. series problem). The Raven Boys introduces you to a wholly original, fully-formed world and crackling, strong characters you won’t soon want to leave.




Watch the Trailer:

Maggie has once again created her own beautiful artistic book trailer. Check it out!



Read an excerpt here.


Win a copy:

We have one SIGNED copy up for grabs! Enter via the Rafflecopter widget below. The Contest ends 10/14.
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    I like the show Medium. That was a great example of psychic powers in my opinion. Thanks for the awesome giveaway!


    I love Beautiful Creatures. I love Lena and Ethan’s psychic connection. It’s so romantic and makes their relationship so much stronger.


    Oh yes, Beautiful Creatures! Lena and Ethan’s connection is what sucked me in to that series!!

    Thanks, I can’t wait to read this!


    Medium. Surprisingly. I kinda like it. 😀


    Empathy. Definitely my favorite. So favorite, in fact, that I wrote a book whose main character has it. XD

    Lexi E.

    The only one I can think of that I really enjoyed was Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. The whole gothic and supernatural vibe about the whole book is great:)


    I like the Psychic Eye series by Victoria Laurie.


    I love Maggie’s work. I’m really excited about this book!!


    My favorite example of psychic powers: Medium (TV show)


    I think my favorite character with psychic powers would have to be Charles Xavier, of X-Men. He’s wise and powerful, and though he has such a simple power, he’s the most important piece of the X-Men team.


    I love this review! It sounds as awesome as I had expected. 🙂 Can’t wait to get my hands on it!

    In answer to your question…hmmm. I guess I have to say Alice in Twilight, the way she can see into the future and see when futures change the moment they do. It’s a pretty cool feature in the books.



    I really love Kim Derting’s The Body Finder books. Violet can sense echoes of murder victims and their murderers. I also like fake psychics in Psych. 🙂


    Ok, so I’m super being the Supernatural bandwagon but I’m going to go with the psychic in season 4 because that is what first popped into my head. Even after losing her eyesight for the boys she is still quircky, fun, and uses playful banter with them. I also thing she is just overall kind of badass.


    Can’t forget about Matilda Wormwood and her psychic telekinesis! 🙂


    I would have to say Alice in Twilight. I can’t wait to read this book! I love Maggie’s work!

    Brittany Hiester

    My favorite example of psychic powers would have to be Raven from Teen Titans.


    In Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, Daniel learns about the Cemetery of Books and how 1 book will pick a human protector and the human will somehow just know. The idea has fascinated me and the underlining idea – of being ‘picked’ by an inanimate object – is one used in many fantasy books.


    Professor X! He can see into your mind. Also Voldemort. 😀


    My favorite example of psychic powers would have to be Alice from Twilight.


    I love how in Gifted by Marilyn Kaye, there are all different types of powers that they have to learn to use and that together, anything can happen.

    Valerie R.

    What an interesting sounding story! Maggie’s imagination is a strange, wonderful place. 🙂

    I love your review!


    Well are great example is The Mentalist! He super fun and super cool, and can solve most of it!! And let’s not forget the great anime Pokemon, all the best thing the have psychic power are there for our liking!!


    I’d have to say the Silent Brothers in TMI, how they can get inside your head without your permission, and talk to you and heal you. Thanks!


    Hmmm. I guess my favorite is Carrie. She uses her psychic powers for evil, sure, but everyone kind of had it coming. 🙂


    Alice from Twilight in books, and the kid from The Shining in movies.


    My favorite psychic is Alice from Twilight.


    My favourite is in the women of the otherworld series by Kelley Armstrong, they are fantastic books!


    Deadly Little Voices and all of the other books are amazing. Two people in the books (so far only two any way) have physic touch powers. The books are interesting and frustrating at the same time.

    Hannah Elisabeth

    Super excited to read this book. Thanks for the giveaway! 😀
    As for my favorite example of “psychic powers”, I’m going to go with Nerissa from Suzanne Collins’ Underland Chronicles. Though less because of her abilities as a visionary than just her wonderful freakiness overall. <3


    Thats So Raven, would definitely have to be my favorite tv physic right next to Sean from Psych but hes not a real physic so i guess it doesn’t count!! anyways, Raven is amazing she always see’s the future and tries to change it in her funny way….. with a bunch of costumes!!! even though it is disney channel doesn’t mean it wasn’t awesome!! :D:D:D

    cant wait to read this book!!!


    As for psychic powers (and not just magic), there’s always the kid’s classic Matilda by Roald Dahl. But most recently I read The Cloak Society (as an arc book), and I loved how the main character named Alex trains his telekinesis.


    I love Po from Kristin Cashore’s Graceling (and Bitterblue). He….um, spoilers 🙂


    I’d probably have to say X-men. There are some amazing physic powers there. I also read a few good books about some “real” psychics and their life stories.


    I would have to say that my favorite show of psychic ability in any book is definitely the gang from the Dark Visions series by L.J. Smith. Especially Gabriel, the psychic vampire that absorbs other people’s life energy. He’s so sexy and tormented that it makes him kind of irresistible.
    Can’t wait to read this book, I’m so excited!

    Katherina Barney

    Well, I just got done reading, not all that long ago, “Through Her Eyes” by Jennifer Archer and the physic powers that Tansy has with her camera and Tate through his writing in Henry’s old journal and the connection they both share with long ago dead Henry.

    But I also love the physic powers of Torina in “The Seer and the Sword” by Victoria Hanley because of it’s beautiful simplicity–Torina can see the future AND the past in her age-old crystal ball. This is probably my favorite book! I just love the beauty of the characters; the true, unblemished love between Torina and Landen; and through it all they have this connection that they never even knew they share together!

    Another classic, with a spin, is “Gallows Hill” by Lois Duncan. It starts as a simple Halloween role-play that turns real as Sarah starts seeing real visions in an old crystal paperweight and they start coming to fruition! Then centuries-old events starts unraveling and fast. I like this book because it combines some of my favorite subjects: physic powers and the Salem Witch Hunt!!

    From what I’ve read of the review and the description from Goodreads, this book is bound to be not only a great read, but also a YA Best Seller!


    I’d have to say Alice in the Twilight sereis- she’s able to warn when there’s danger coming. I’ve always liked the idea of seeing the future and being able to talk to people with your mind- like Jacob with the Wolf Pack.

    Ileana A.

    The Body Finder series by Kimberly Derting! I would love to have Violet’s power even if is creepy! 😀


    Blood Singers by Tamara Rose Blodgett. Julia has new powers that she doesn’t exactly know how to use yet and haven’t fully manifested but so far she can read minds sometimes and she has telekinetic stuff going on. Eventually I think she will be able to conjure fire, illusions, and deflect other powers. She is supposed to have everything so how is that not the best?


    I love moving things with one’s mind, that’d make life so much easier ya know?


    I enjoyed Clarity by Kim Harrington. She could touch objects and see actions connected to it. Helps her solve crimes. Very cool.


    I don’t know if this would be considered psychic, but I would love to have Edward’s power of reading people’s minds just for one day. Not more than that though, just one day. I think that would be really interesting!

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