The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater Review: Ley line adventure

January 2, 2015 by Jeann @ Happy Indulgence | 4 stars, Books, Reviews

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater Review: Ley line adventureThe Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
Series: The Raven Cycle #1
Published by Scholastic Inc. Australia on September 18, 2012
Source: Purchased
Genres: Mystery, Paranormal, Young Adult
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Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.

His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.

But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.

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.

From Maggie Stiefvater, the bestselling and acclaimed author of the Shiver trilogy and The Scorpio Races, comes a spellbinding new series where the inevitability of death and the nature of love lead us to a place we’ve never been before.

The Raven Boys is a highly complex and unusual story with an intelligent cast of characters, ley lines, psychic powers and Welsh mythology. It took me ages to pick up this book, but now I can see why everyone loves it for it’s unique paranormal flair and lovable raven boys.

The story starts off with mystery and intrigue, sharing the two prophecies which Blue is bound by. If she kisses her true love, he will die, and she will fall in love this year. It doesn’t take long for Blue’s story to be intertwined with the raven boys, rich, powerful and intelligent private school boys and she’s soon wrapped up into a paranormal adventure hunting for ley lines, ghosts and mysteries.

“Blue Sargent had forgotten how many times she’d been told that she would kill her true love.”

Each of the raven boys are distinct and complex, from the sweet and friendly Adam, to Ronan’s mischievous nature, the quiet calming presence of Noah, and Gansey’s uppity nature. Gansey was such a fascinating character, with his formal speech containing four syllable words with everyone teased him about, and his obsession with ley lines and hunting for the Welsh legend Glendouwer. He is a complex character, coasting between confidence and insecurity and probably the one that is developed the most.

What surprises me about The Raven Boys is how it takes the formula of a quirky girl who gets mixed up with rich, powerful private school boys and translates it into a whole new story by adding paranormal elements and ley line hunting to the mix. Psychic prophecies, hallucinatory trees, ghosts and Blue’s power amplification are only some of the paranormal elements here. It was incredibly fascinating how it all intertwined with the ley line running through the town of Henrietta, which it will fully explore.

“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.”

As amazing as it was, The Raven Boys takes a lot of concentration to grasp everything due to its complexity and multiple character view points. Maggie Stiefvater painstakingly develops everything in this novel, and some of it went over my head. This intricacy is not a bad thing, but you have to have the patience for a slow and complex read.

Despite Blue’s prophecy, I was glad to see the minimal romance here and no doubt there’ll be a build up to that over the course of the next three books. I know it will be worth it, and I’m glad Maggie Stiefvater took a different turn from her Wolves of Mercy Falls series.


The Raven Boys is a book that deserves to be savoured. It’s a unique story exploring the magic of ley lines as well as the consequences of their power. Although it’s a rather slow and complex story, Maggie Stiefvater’s beautiful and lyrical writing will carry you through its amazing adventure filled with paranormal fare and a vibrant cast of characters.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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Jeann is an Aussie YA blogger and mum who loves to read and recommend books! You can usually find me fangirling about books on my various social media channels including Twitter @happyindulgence, Instagram and Youtube.

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60 responses to “The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater Review: Ley line adventure

  1. This is a book I have been seeing everywhere I have gone! So many people seem to have read it and loved it, and I am definitely feeling left out xD I can't find it at any shops I go to, and will probably have to buy it online because it seems to good to miss! Great review, it was good to see your opinion on it.
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  2. I get that it's complex, and indeed I had to read it a few times before I realised that I wasn't reading the series right. I needed to explore every sentence and discover the book and pick up hints and mystery and read it very carefully to thoroughly enjoy it. I don't think it can be a quick, light read!
    So glad you loved it! YAY ANOTHER FAN ADDED TO THE LIST!!! I AM SO HAPPY!!!!!!
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  3. I love this series! I'm so glad that you're picking it up Jeann! I have to agree that it does take a lot of effort to piece together what is going on, and understand it. At this point, I've just decided to accept everything that was happening, because a lot of weird things do happen haha.
    My recent post Top Ten Tuesday #38

    • I know, there is definitely a lot of love for this series and I can see why now! Haha yeah, it is pretty weird, but I like it.

  4. Jennifer @Boricuan Bookworms

    Wow, this review got me to read this one now! I've had the audiobook for a while but the narrator's voice made it difficult to understand, plus boring. But after reading Shiver, I am up for reading anything and everything Maggie Stiefvater, and nothing is better than a good paranormal like this one. Great review! 🙂

    • Yay, I\’m so glad you\’re going to pick it up, this one is a really great and unique paranormal. Thanks Jennifer!

  5. Francoise

    This book has been on my TBR list for ages and I should actually make the effort to read it this year. The premise sounds really interesting and judging from your review, the characters are interesting. Complex plots can be a turn off but that's never really been a problem for me. It just means I become more absorbed in the novel.

    Thanks for the review lovely xx
    My recent post Faking It by Gabrielle Tozer {Giveaway AUS only}

    • There were so many interesting things in this novel, I can\’t wait to see what\’s next. I hope you do get the chance to read it Francoise, would love to hear what you think!

  6. Bec

    I'm so so so happy you finally picked this up! Maggie's stories get better with every book! The complexity is one of the things I love most and AAAAAAHHHHH. I am so very close to completely fangirling. I'll leave now so I don't overwhelm you.
    My recent post The Terrible TBR

    • Haha +1 to your book recommending ability Bec! So glad to hear they get better and better, although I did DNF Scorpio Races. I think I need to give it another shot. Haha trust me I've gotten lots of fangirling on this post!

  7. If I'm being honest, I'm more than a bit scared to pick up The Raven Boys, because it's been hit so hard by the hype train. And the last time that happened (Daughter of Smoke & Bone), it went down pretty badly for me.

    I do like the concept, and the sound of the characters, so I know one day I WILL get around to reading this, but I'll be a bit scared of it failing to meet expectations >.<
    My recent post Books for Mail + Simply Sunday (#10)

    • I totally know what you mean about books that have been hyped up so much we're afraid that we don't love it as much! And I saw your thoughts on Throne of Glass too, and we all know how big the hype is for that series.

  8. I'm so glad you enjoyed this one Jeann, I tried to read it recently and just couldn't get through it. I really wasn't too keen on the mythology in this one and the characters all blended in and I was just confused. I'll eventually try again when I'm in the mood for a darker read, especially seeing how much you enjoyed it.

    Thanks for the wonderful review Jeann <3
    My recent post Soulprint by Megan Miranda

    • I totally know what Kelly, it's a pain stakingly slow read isn't it? But I'm just glad I did enjoy it. No probs Kelly!

  9. I don't normally read paranormal books, but I've heard so many great things about this book and the whole series that comes with it and EVERYONE flails about it. I feel like I'm the only one who hasn't read the series. I do enjoy a bright cast of characters, and ley lines sound like they would be interesting to read about. (I had to look them up.) I think I might wait until the whole series is out, though, because if I like it then it will be painful waiting for the next installment.
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    • It's a fantastic series and all the raving made me finally pick it up! I didn't know much about ley lines beforehand but it's really fascinating to have a book that really delves into it.

  10. quinnsbo

    I'm so glad you enjoyed The Raven Boys. I recently read the three books and fell in love. I actually listened to them, and I think that's why I never found them slow. But I have heard other people saying that.

  11. Huhu I really want to read this book!! I've read a lot of reviews about this from other blogs, and most of them were positive – including yours. I like the concept of the book! 🙂 Gansey seems mysterious to me haha. Thanks for the review! Definitely going to read this sometime this year 🙂

  12. Liza @ Reading with ABC

    Yay! I love to read reviews about this series because it's so dear to me. I adore Stiefvater's writing and the Raven Cycle series gets better and better. I cannot wait for the last book!

  13. *sighs* I am definitely the black sheep with this one. 😐 For some reason I just couldn't get into the writing. Anyhow, I am so glad to hear you had a better experience with it than I did Jeann! 😀 I can imagine that if you were able to get into the writing that the characters would be intriguing and well-rounded and the story wonderfully layered. Thanks for sharing Jeann, and, as always, fabulous review! <3
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    • That's a shame Zoe, I know how frustrating it is when you can't get into something everyone is raving about. The writing was definitely slow and hard to get into, but I'm glad the characters made up for it. Thank you lovely x Happy New Year!

  14. I listened to this a few months ago when I was on my hiatus and I would have to agree with everything Jeann! I love that the romance is minimal and will develop throughout the series (I still need to read book 2 though)…I'm not a big fan of lyrical, flowery books and I have to admit that I actually had to rewind a few times for the words to absorb but the writing is indeed beautiful and I enjoyed the characters a lot. Lovely review, as always Jeann! Happy new year!!!
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  15. I love the sound of this complex book, Jeann. I have this on my list of series to read by the end of 2015, and everyone I know loves it. I love the sound of the different boys. I can't wait to read it and experience the beauty of this book!
    Lovely review, Jeann! 🙂
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  16. I think your review of this is the most informative I've read! I've heard mixed things, but you're the first person I've come across to mention its complexity. Which probably explains the mixed reviews lol I am quite curious now, I had just assumed it was another run of the mill YA with romance. It's nice to know that aspect is kept to a minimum!
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    • Thanks Wattle, I really appreciate it! I was actually quite surprised for the complexity as well when I picked it up, I've heard a lot of raves but perhaps that wasn't the forefront trait that stuck in my head.

  17. Marianne @ Boricuan Bookworms

    Honestly I already read The Raven Boys, but after your review I'm kinda itching to re read it! I haven't read the sequels, so now I have an excuse to. Haha! Great review, Jeann!

  18. Raven Boys starts slow and it continues picking up until you are so engrossed that you don't want to put the book down, and that happens as well with the other two books! With Blue Lily Lily Blue I had to put the book down sometimes because I was scared of what could happen in the next page!

    I'm so happy you've started this series Jeann, it is one of my fave paranormal series right now, and I cannot wait for the final book this year!
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    • Wow, that's the way I like my storylines, not rushed and with plenty of build up to make it worth it! That sounds like you had an amazing experience with Blue Lily Blue. Can't wait to read it all!

  19. kezia1098

    Glad you enjoyed this book, Jeann! I've been hearing amazing things about this series so to be honest I'm a bit wary of starting it. I do like multiple POVs but I don't have a good relationship with slow books. It's nice to hear that the romance is minimal here. I rarely stumble upon paranormal books that aren't focused on romance so it's definitely a breath of fresh air!

    Great review, Jeann ^^
    My recent post 2015 Goals &amp; Resolutions

    • Thank you Kezia, there is a massive fanbase for this series and it was time I found out why! The multipe povs were actually in third person, which was interesting. I totally agree with books that aren't focused on romance being a breath of fresh air!

    • Glad to hear you loved it Joy, there are so many who recommended it to me so I'm glad to finally delve in. I have Dream Thieves on my shelf, so there would be no reason not to 😉

  20. cassietheweird

    I am SO GLAD you liked it! I love this series, and it just keeps getting better.
    I think one of the greatest things about it is the fact that the romance never becomes the main focus. It's there, but it never feels forced, or rushed, it's just there.
    And the storyline is so complicated and wonderful, it's amazing.
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    • It really was fantastic, especially with how the characters were built up and how the romance was subtle. I really love that because it doesn't feel forced!

  21. We are totally making this MAGGIE STIEFVATER WEEK. HUZZAH. Someone needs just to post about The Dream Thieves now. XD Heeeh.
    So yes. I completely agree.
    It is complex and yeah maybe a teeny tiny bit went over my head but I STILL LUVE IT TOO MUCH AND THERE'S TOO MANY FEELS. It's the friendship that I love a lot, too. Not enough focus on friendship…

    and really dead Welsh kings. *shrugs* They're cool too.
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    • Oh Cait I am so glad you are able to comment here again! YES for Maggie Stiefvater week. IT definitely was complex but YES the characters were incredible.


  22. OH MAN OH MAN, let me tell you, the romance is kept to a minimum with this series and yet I ship it so much. SO MUCH MORE than books that tell me that I should concentrate on A couple or B couple. I think it's the fact that Stiefvater keeps it so minimal that you actually have to employ your imagination and that's why it's so appealing. Gah, actually, maybe it's just because I have the biggest crush on Gansey hahaha

    I AM SO GLAD THAT YOU LIKED THIS ONE, JEANN. It is crazy complex, isn't it? Normally I go through and can pretty much predict the ending but I don't know with this series. I may go back and try to dissect it but a) who's got time for that haha and b) I feel like Stiefvater is too unpredictable for me. Lovely review, Jeann! 😀
    My recent post The Elemental Trilogy #1: The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas

    • That is so awesome, I don't think I could have handled a heavy romance on top of everything else going on in this complex storyline! I love how she keeps it subtle too, a big departure from her previous stories. I totally didn't expect the complexity (in fact I counted that I mentioned that word about 5 times in this review) but it was pretty amazing! Thanks Jess!
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  23. karawrites15

    (BTW in the date published you accidentally wrote 2912 instead of 2012. For a moment there I thought you must've figured out how to time travel into the future. ;))

    I swear, I see reviews / positive remarks about these books EVERYWHERE. I still haven't read these ones… and I don't even know WHY I haven't gotten around to reading them yet. I love the sound of an intricate, complex plot though. 🙂
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    • Hahaha thanks for picking that up Kara, lol I didn't even notice the typo! Have fixed it up 🙂

      I've heard so much about this one that I decided to finally pick it up so I could join the hype, and now I see the appeal!