Blue and her Raven Boys are still searching for a long-dead Welsh king, but along the way they’ve found strength in their friendship, a mystical forest that protects 2 out of the 4 of them, and they’ve discovered their own strange abilities. They’re also braving incredible dangers like an uncontrollable ley line, the boss of the assassin who killed Niall Lynch and is after the Greywaren, and cursed caves. The pyschics of 300 Fox Way are trying to help guide them, but with Maura missing and so many things about the Raven Boys fate unclear, it’s almost impossible to untangle what is going on in Henrietta.
In Blue Lily, Blue and Gansey’s budding romance continues to bud. They can’t admit to each other that they may like each other because 1) let’s not forget Blue is cursed and 2) they don’t want to hurt Adam. This was probably the most emotional part of the novel, because it’s not hard to see how badly they want to be together, and we already know that Gansey is going to die. It’s impossible not to empathize with Blue’s panic any time she sees Gansey in his Aglionby shirt.
Robert Parrish wanders into Adam’s apartment before the hearing, and that was terrifying. It’s been impossible to forget the night we last saw Adam’s dad (in the first book). He’s volatile and hard to predict. His hatred for his son comes from fear and jealousy of what his son’s becoming. Mr. Parrish is tired of his son thinking he’s better than the rest of his family, but what’s really sad is Adam doesn’t believe that. In fact, his worst fear is that he is just like his father; angry and destined for nothing more than living in the same small trailer for the rest of his life.
Adam finally learns in this book that not all help is charity. He can’t do everything by himself. That’s something that he finds in his work with Persephone. An extremely powerful ley line, a magical entity with a mind of its own, cannot physically move items blocking its flow of power. It needs Adam to do that, and Adam needs Persephone to teach him how to communicate with Cabeswater. He’s grown so much, that when Gansey and Ronan show up at his father’s hearing, without his asking and without him even telling them when it was, he accepts their help and support. Sometimes people help people to make their lives easier, not because they expect or want anything in return.
Of the three sleepers, two are woken during this novel. We can safely assume Gwenllian was the third sleeper; the one that could have been woken or not. She’s batshit, but she seems to be harmless enough. And Blue is learning about herself through Gwenllian. Maura is found near the sleeper that shouldn’t be woken. She went underground to find Glendower (presumable the sleeper that should), and instead found Artemus, her long-lost lover, and is trapped by the second sleeper.
In the journey to find Maura, we find that Gansey has power too. Adam the Magician, Blue the Mirror, Ronan the Dreamer, and Gansey the King. Gansey III finally finds his voice, and its more than just charisma. With this voice, he is capable of commanding the dead to rise. But Gansey is a Gansey, and they don’t command, they only ask and hope. This unwillingness to command others is part of what makes Gansey who he is; it’s part of what binds the Raven Boys together. He never commands, never expecs, and rarely asks. But when he does ask, he receives.
Even the secondary and tertiary characters are real, fully developed people fighting their own demons and living their own lives. I’ve never read another series that has so seamlessly woven everyone’s story into one cohesive plot, while paying more than sufficient attention to the characters that aren’t directly involved. When your characters are that sound, that well-written, it almost doesn’t matter what plot you’re trying to sell.
Strange things happen in this world all the time. It would be easy to dismiss them as corny or impossible. But the authenticity of the characters breathes life into the magic of the events. The reader believes in the characters, so they believe what the character tells them. Maggie Stiefvater’s characterization is the key to The Raven Cycle’s success, because once the reader is attached to Blue and her Boys, they’re impossible to leave.