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Starred review from February 1, 2016
“What a strange constellation they all were.” Such is Richard Gansey’s assessment of the teenage magical dreamers, psychic amplifiers, scryers, and ghosts who have been his closest companions in his efforts to find the sleeping Welsh king Glendower over the previous three books of the Raven Cycle. The search for that king—and the fact that Gansey is supposed to die this year, probably from a kiss from Blue—has hung over each novel, and it all comes to a head now. Despite Stiefvater’s use of repeating phrases (“Depending on where you began the story, it was about...”) to create an air of finality and heighten the mythic scope of Gansey’s quest, the path to what readers have always known was coming is swirling, chaotic, and unpredictable, drawing in robotic bees, real wasps, a cloven-hooved girl, a terrifically powerful demon, tree spirits, fast cars, and a couple of eagerly anticipated kisses. The playful, imaginative force of Stiefvater’s writing works its magic once again, and most readers will finish this saga not with regret or disappointment but with hope. Ages 14–up. Agent: Laura Rennert, Andrea Brown Literary Agency.
March 1, 2016
A group of Virginia teenagers finally finds a long-buried Welsh king in this conclusion to the four-part Raven Cycle. A demon has infected the magical forest, Cabeswater, killing Ronan's mother, Aurora, and threatening Ronan's brother, Matthew, as well as Ronan and maybe the whole world--Gansey knows what he has to do. It's all been foretold, and readers have been waiting for it since Blue saw him on the corpse road in quartet opener The Raven Boys (2012). For three out of four novels, Stiefvater combined extraordinary magic and visceral reality in a way that felt entirely true. Here, the magic scatters in all directions, and too little of it makes sense. The characters--Ronan, Gansey, long-dead Noah, Blue Sargent, newcomer Henry, and especially Adam--are as multidimensional and fully realized as ever; Ronan and Adam's budding romance is beautifully told. The writing sings--each sentence, each paragraph marvelously wrought. Yet at the point where the story needs to make the most sense, it makes the least, prophecy and magics piling up on one another in a chaotic, anticlimactic climax. The ending feels trivial, almost mocking the seriousness of the rest of the quartet. Stiefvater couldn't write a bad book, and this isn't one, but it is a disappointment after years of glorious buildup. (Fantasy. 14 & up)
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Starred review from March 1, 2016
Gr 9 Up-The wait is over. The long-anticipated fourth and final volume in the engrossing Raven cycle is here, and it's a doozy. If anything, it is even more steeped in dreams, magic, and possibility than the previous titles and none of the books' ongoing dramas are simply resolved. The masterful Stiefvater juggles multiple plotlines, adds a few new ones, and keeps the pages turning. Most importantly, readers will continue to be invested in her rich and complex characters. The quest for the Welsh king Glendower is completed, but kings aren't always what they're cracked up to be. Gansey and his friends are now desperate to change what they have come to believe is his fate-to die before the end of the year. They also have to cope with the villainous forces of greed and corruption who descend on their town, RoboBees, and a power-hungry demon. And there's that nagging curse that Blue will kiss her true love and he will die, and she's increasingly certain that Gansey is her heart's desire. Strange revelations about Blue's father and the introduction of a new student, who proves to be a stalwart and trustworthy ally, all help to build to the breathtaking climax. Beyond the imaginative storytelling, the colorful cast of characters, and the looping subplots, Stiefvater has tackled big questions about life and death, power and personal responsibility, dreams and promises, and fate and destiny. VERDICT This is a series that is destined for greatness and The Raven King is a crowning achievement.-Luann Toth, School Library Journal
Copyright 2016 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.
Starred review from March 1, 2016
Grades 9-12 *Starred Review* Here it isthe final volume in the Raven Cycleand it is, simply, a marvel, the strongest and most spacious of the four volumes. This installment finds the world of the Raven Boys (Gansey, Ronan, Adam, and Noah) and their best friend Blue in considerable and dangerous disarray. As strange, increasingly sinister things begin happening in Henrietta and the magic forest of Cabeswater, the search for sleeping king Owen Glendower becomes more imperative, as it becomes apparent that something wicked this way comes. To say more here would be to rob readers of the joy of discovering the book's many secrets, twists, and surprises. Instead, let's observe that if writing a book is taking readers' minds for a walk, Stiefvater never makes a false step. Everything is exactly right: the writing is gorgeous, the characters are brilliantly realized, the compelling plot arises organically from them, the mounting danger and suspense leaves the reader breathless, and the presence of evil is palpable. Best of all, Stiefvater has created a richly imagined, complete world that readers can, with a sense of wonder, inhabit, experiencing viscerally the magic with which it is suffused and falling in love with its unforgettable characters. Like this world she has created, Stiefvater's Raven Cycle is magic, plain and simple. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Few working YA authors have mastered the art of the commercial and critical smash like Stiefvater. Expect this victory lap to be well promoted and well celebrated.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2016, American Library Association.)
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