In rural Henrietta, Virginia, mystical powers are more accessible than in other places. This fact is known by a few people; Richard Campbell Gansey III knows it, and the psychics who live and work at 300 Fox Way know it. For the psychics, this means that no matter what, Henrietta means home. For Gansey, as he likes to be known, it means that Henrietta is a likely burial site for Glendower, a Welsh king said to be not dead, but asleep and waiting to bestow a gift on his waker.
Gansey, a junior in high school, has used his family’s massive wealth to travel the world searching for Glendower. He attends Henrietta’s elite, expensive, all-male Aglionby Academy with his friends: Ronan, harsh and vitriolic since his beloved father’s mysterious death; Adam, a scholarship student abused by his father and certain he has to do everything for himself; and Noah, watchful, fearful, and quiet.
Aglionby Academy is the scourge of Henrietta, at least in Blue Sargent’s opinion. She lives at 300 Fox Way, and the psychics are her big, loud, all-female family. She’s a non-seer, personally, but she does have one gift; she can make spiritual voices louder. It is for this reason that she goes with her mysterious half-aunt Neeve to watch the spirits of those who will die in the next year parade through Henrietta on St. Mark’s Eve.
There, she sees her first ghost. It’s Gansey.
Problem number one: non-seers don’t see spirits. And if they do, on St. Mark’s Eve, then either that spirit is their true love, or they killed them. Problem number two: Blue has had a curse her whole life that tells her that if she kisses her true love, he’ll die. Problem number three: according to Neeve, this is the year she falls in love. Problem number four: Blue is definitely, definitely not interested in Gansey.
Oh, and problem number five: Blue’s about to get sucked into the quest for Glendower. What makes that a problem? Soon, they’re not going to be the only ones looking for Glendower, and the other seeker is dangerous, desperate, and guilty of a horrendous crime.
Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven Boys is the first installment in her series The Raven Cycle. Her writing is lyrical but multi-faceted; it’s poetic, funny, and painfully relatable by turns. The Raven Boys is well-crafted, the writing is beautiful, and it possesses none of that all-too common YA cringe. It does include its fair share of profanity, and later books in The Raven Cycle are sometimes moderately dark or violent, so be sure you’re ready to read it. I would recommend it to ages 13 or 14 and up, but it really depends on the person. It’s not for everyone, but if you like magic, plot twists, incredibly three-dimensional characters, and maybe even a little bit of Latin, The Raven Boys might just be for you.
Book Review by Ilse Eskelsen