The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater

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Make sure you check out our reviews for the other books in The Raven Cycle, Blue Lily, Lily BlueThe Dream Thievesand The Raven Boys.

Cabeswater is dying. It’s being poisoned. It’s being unmade by the second sleeper, a demon who shouldn’t have been woken. It was created by all the making in Cabeswater, and it’s mission is unmaking. It will start with the forest and all of its wonders and dreams. It will end by unmaking the dreamer who created Cabeswater.

Seven years ago, a life that should not have been lost was taken on the ley line and  Gansey’s life was saved when it should not have been. It’s time for him to repay the favor.

Are Adam and Ronan a spoiler if you’ve seen it coming? I’m going with no. A relationship between Adam and Ronan has been building since early in the story. And it fits. Ronan saved Adam from his dad that night. Ronan brought Adam (and everyone, really) to Cabeswater, a place that has become a part of Adam’s identity and that fights to protect him. And in Adam, Ronan sees someone who fights so strongly for what he wants. I don’t know that Ronan is capable of that kind of fight anymore. I know he respects that in Adam, even if he finds it as exhausting as the rest of us sometimes.

Seondeok is a dream artifacts collector. She specifically collects Niall Lynch’s dream-things. Henry Cheng is her son. When Henry was young, he was kidnapped and held hostage by Seondeok’s competitor, Laumonier (the creepy triplets-who-are-actually-the-same). Henry knows about magic (or whatever you want to call what’s up with Gansey and the gang) and it’s not so much that he wants to be involved, but he wants to share that with other people. I think everyone can understand that need to be included and to know that there are people who know what you know.

I can’t imagine that saving Gansey would have worked half as well if it had been attempted by any other author. Stiefvater’s been building up to Gansey’s death for the entire series, and she’s also been building up to a grand loophole involving Glendower and the wish granted for whoever wakes him. When that plan goes down the drain, all of our hearts break. Will this truly be the end of Richard Gansey III? An death in service to his friends and Cabeswater would be noble enough for our Raven King, but what a sad ending to a story that has otherwise been so much more about the magic in the world than the misery.

The only real negative is the resolution. We received so much more Adam than Blue and Gansey. I’m not sure why she Stiefvater thought we’d be more interested in Adam and his parents than Blue and Gansey’s new life, but that’s what we got. Honestly, I could’ve told Adam that his parents didn’t want him back. They don’t want to hear about his success or his future. They don’t want ownership and they won’t be proud of him. I didn’t need or want to watch that trainwreck.

I’m so excited for Blue to go off and discover the world. Gansey’s been there, done that, but it’ll be a different experience with Blue. Her sense of wonder at anything that isn’t Henrietta will thrill them both and her authenticity will win over everyone they meet on their travels. It’ll be the time of their life. After that we just have to get Blue into college (if that’s still what she wants); she’s got hella admissions essay materials.

The Raven Cycle‘s final act was everything I hoped it would be. It was terrifying and exhilarating and sad. All the pieces of this giant puzzle of a story finally fell into place. Questions were more than satifactorily answered, and my expectations were not only met, they were smashed straight through. One of the best conclusions to a book series I’ve ever read.

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Frostblood by Elly Blake

Frostblood is Blake’s debut novel.

Frostbloods and firebloods are natural enemies in this world.  The king is being controlled by an evil entity called the Minax.  However the king is a frostblood with a vendetta to kill all of the firebloods in his hunt to find the Daughter of Darkness.

Ruby is a fireblood livng in a small village with her healer mother when the soldiers of the king raided the village and taking Ruby prisoner.  For half a year, Ruby is held prisoner until a handful of frostblood refugees break her out.  Confused, Ruby reluctantly agrees to go with and help the refugees destroy the throne, which wields the darkness, controlling the king.  Arcus and Brother Thistle, frostblood refugees, help Ruby control and master her fire.  However, some of the other refugees come to find out that Brother Thistle and Arcus are housing a fireblood.  Most of the residents are very iffy about Ruby putting their safety in danger.

Ruby is taken prisoner again but this time taken to the palace to be held prisoner.  She is forced to fight for her life against frostblood champions to get close to the king.  The king has his suspicion that Ruby is the Daughter of Darkness that he has been searching for.  Wishing to take Ruby as an ally, King Rasmus tried to convince her with the Minax’s help, they could rule the kingdom with an iron fist.  Arcus then storms the kingdom with this followers, claiming he is the rightful king Arelius Arkanus.

This is a page turner, however it is predictable.  Arcus turning out to be Rasmus’s elder brother, thought to have died in a fire, comes out of no where to claim his throne.

Ruby is a weak teenager who doesn’t know how to control her gift, or even summon it unless she is mad.  She is afraid throughout most of the book to even summon her fire, which grew irritating, especially when Arcus would taunt Ruby. Towards the end of the book she learned how to use her fire to kill the frostblood champions she was going against, which drew the Minax towards her even more.

Blake does a phenomenal job describing scenes and how the characters look in her head.  Arcus’s face is burned and scarred due to an assassination attempt on his life when he was young.  Brother Thistle took Arcus  under his wing when he was banished from the kingdom.  Blake made sure to leave no loose ends in this novel, leaving me satisfied with finishing it.  However, the predictability of the book is a bit of an upset.

The character development was meager.  There was little improve on Ruby throughout the story.  She was just as scared at the beginning as she was in the ending.  She never seemed to be brave, just a poor forced soul that went along with the plan unwillingly.

  • 3/5
  • Decent read, although slightly predictable
  • Little character development
  • Some romance 


Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

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This is a world where the color of a person’s blood determines who they are and what they do. Those with silverblood have power, in the political and supernatural sense. Those who bleed red are normal. They are the lower class workers and soldiers. Life is hard, but uncomplicated for the Reds; they must find work before they turn 18. If they cannot (which many can’t), they will be drafted conscripted into the Nortan army, where they will likely die on the front lines.

Mare Barrow is a Red who’s about to turn 18. She’s a pickpocket, which isn’t exactly considered legitimate work. But when she pickpockets the right person, she finds herself summoned to work at the palace, effectively taking her out of the running for conscription. In an accident, it’s revealed that Mare has powers. The King forces her to pose as a lost heiress to a Silver High House and uses her as a tool to quell the growing unrest among the Reds.

Just to get the inevitable discussion about the love-triangle out of the way, Maven and Mare should work so much better than Cal and Mare. Maven is kind, and believes in the same things Mare does, and he supports and protects her as she’s learning to navigate this new life. Cal is busy studying battle tactics and training and, oh yeah, spending time with his actual fiancee. But the chemistry between Cal and Mare is so much stronger. Which is something I’m sure Maven is used to; being overlooked in favor of his brother for something intangible like chemistry or charisma. And while I’m on the subject, don’t get me started on the upcoming Kilorn drama. We can ask Gale and Peeta how that one’s going to turn out.

Mare is self-centered. She makes some poor attempt to help a once-scrawny boy turned best friend who she can’t seem to get rid of and who obviously doesn’t want to be saved in an effort to help her conscious. Golly gee, can’t wait for the oncoming boy next door triangle. Her self-centeredness ruins her sister’s career; her need to save herself results in the hunting-down and the execution of her friends; her belief that the Prince is so in love with her destroys Scarlet Guard’s plans for a coup. She shows no development and never stops to take a look at herself, choosing instead to think about how awful the snakes she’s being forced to live with are.

What becomes increasingly clear to me as this story continues is that Mare is an expendable piece in the cog that is this ‘rebellion’. If you can call it that. Because at some point, the Scarlet Guard is going to have to take a look at whether or not the ends justify their means right now. Yes, there are people with rights who need to be fought for. But the Scarlet Gaurd isn’t so much fighting as playing God. They are choosing the Silvers who live and die. They are letting their actions result in the deaths of innocent civilians. Now they need to ask if it’s worth it to them.

But Mare is replaceable. The only thing that makes Mare noteworthy in this novel is that she can’t be shuffled off and killed quietly because hundreds, if not thousands, of Silvers saw her powers. In order to maintain the fragile facade that the Silvers are strongest because of their gifts, the King forces Mare to pretend to be a long-lost heiress of a Silver House. If it had been any other Red, they would be where Mare was. If any other Red were in this position, the Scarlet Guard would have sought them out and asked for their help. We find out there are hundreds of others who are Red and Silver, and for some reason, we’re stuck with whiny, self-centered, hard-to-swallow Mare Barrow.

A lot of the problems with fleshing out these characters is that there isn’t any time to do so. There’s a lot of description of what’s going on, and not a lot about who is doing what and why they’re doing it. Part of this comes from it being a debut novel. Aveyard has yet to find a strong voice and a distinctive style. Events of the book are relayed to other characters, and the events themselves become meaningless in the retelling.

But don’t get me wrong. This book was fun. There was definitely a lot of action, and I am always a sucker for a book about any kind of royalty. The plot twist, though predictable, was at least understandable. You can’t treat a person so horribly for their entire life, constantly overlooking them and patronizing them, and expect them to be okay with it. Like I said, Red Queen is a fun ride, just not a particularly good book.