The Raven Boys Review

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The Raven Boys Review, by Jessie Campbell

Official book blurb: 

“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.”

It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive.

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.

Author website:

Maggie Stiefvater has penned an intriguing, exciting, somewhat creepy, and beautiful book with complex characters, magical setting, and just the right amount of mystery. 

I would actually argue against the book blurb on this one. As it is marketed to YA readers, I understand why the blurb focuses on romance, but really there is only a dusting of romance. The book centers more on three rather magical boys and their friendships, as well as the daughter of a powerful, eccentric psychic who lives with all women in a house filled with scrying bowls and mirror magic. The story is about fable and fate, not young love.

The world-building is impeccable. An urban fantasy set in rural Henrietta, Virginia, the magical elements exploring the interred, sleeping Welsh king Glendower seem too jarring to put together. The book blurb fails to tell you the main characters are obsessed with ley lines, lines of psychic energy that crisscross the globe, where spirits walk before they die and when they die, and where mystical kings might lie undead, waiting for resurrection. 

Maggie Stiefvater writes with precision and grace, and she never uses a cliché. Her descriptions pepper the prose and are invariably unique and poignant, without ever being over the top. For example (one of many): “There was nothing particularly intimate about the way they sat, but something about the scene made Gansey feel strange, like he’d heard an unpleasant statement and later forgotten everything about the words but the way they made him feel.” 

I’m an instant fan. Even the abrupt end, which tried for a crazy cliffhanger that wasn’t necessary, didn’t bother me enough to stop gushing over this book. Filled with ley lines and Welsh kings and scrying and magic forests and ghosts, the book touches on class tension, child abuse, destiny, and friendship.

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Book reviewed by Jessie Campbell
Jessie's still hotJessie Campbell is a YA fantasy author and all-around crazy person who one day dropped everything and moved from the US to Costa Rica, where she writes when she is able to resist paradise. Join her on Facebook at or on Twitter at