Written by: Rylee Thomas
Depending on where you begin the story, The Raven Cycle is about Blue Sargent, the daughter of a psychic. Fanciful but sensible, loud and ambitious, grumpy and punky, Blue lives in the house on 300 Fox Way, where her clairvoyant mother, aunts, and cousins read tarot cards, predict the future, and see the dead.
For as long as Blue can remember, she’s been warned that if she kisses her true love, he will die.
Shift the angle. Turn the mirror. Begin the story someplace else.
Now, the story follows Ronan Lynch. Bad-tempered, irritable, and “dangerous as a shark and about as friendly,” Ronan is a Greywaren, capable of bringing items out of his dreams.
Turn the mirror again.
Adam, an aspiring rags-to-riches scholarship student, resents the privilege around him, yearns for independence, and despises pity. Gansey, academic, persuasive, and fiercely loyal, leads his friends on his quest for the sleeping fifteenth-century Welsh King, Owain Glendower, said to grant a wish to whoever awakens him.
The four-book contemporary fantasy series that is The Raven Cycle spins a tale of magic, mystery, and love. When I needed this story most, I found it, and I love these books because they weave a fairytale. The story unfolds in a haunted yet dreamy forest in Henrietta, Virginia, a town populated by sentient trees and psychic ghosts, steeped in Welsh mythology and magical realism. However, these books are about so much more: growing up, socioeconomic differences, found family, family bonds, and chosen love.
Yes, a family can be five teenagers and their ghost friend. Because why not?
Another lovely quality of this novel can be found in the non-stereotypical LGBT+ representation we see in two of our beloved characters. In the words of Instagram user bookbugg, depending on where you begin the story, The Raven Cycle is about Gansey turning around from his best friends for two seconds to flirt with Blue, and then, when he looks back, two of them are kissing and another has been dead the whole time.
I’d tell you a little more about the plot, but, to be honest, it isn’t overly discernible. I’d compare reading The Raven Cycle to taking a road trip along hidden backroads or falling into a dreamy haze. Just last night, I closed The Raven King, the last book in the series, and felt emotionally tied to a cast of characters in a way I haven’t been in a long, long time; and yet, I struggle to articulate exactly what happened to them. There is no true main character, but each character contains a world of complexity. Their lives intertwine with beautiful intricacy, and Maggie Stiefvater’s gorgeous, lyrical, humorous writing style is the thread that binds their journeys together.
If my gushing about these novels hasn’t yet tempted you on its own (though it should), you should know that The Raven Cycle has been ordered to pilot. Set to be directed by Catherine Hardwicke, the mastermind behind the atmospheric Twilight film, The Raven Cycle is getting a TV show. For a little taste of what will soon hit the small screen, here are some excerpted gems from the book series:
For the philosophical among you, we have:
“Humans were so circular; they lived the same slow cycles of joy and misery over and over, never learning. Every lesson in the universe had to be taught billions of times, and it never stuck” (from Blue Lily, Lily Blue).
For people like me, who enjoy deep meaning but mostly stick around for the jokes, we have:
“Blue and Gansey exchanged a look. Blue’s look said, I’m so, so sorry. Gansey’s said, Am I the pretty one?” (from The Raven Boys).
Finally, as stated by the one and only Richard Campbell Gansey III in The Raven Boys, “Aquamarine is a wonderful color and I won’t be made to feel bad for wearing it.”
For those among you who yearn for more Raven Cycle content, check out this ethereal playlist by pumkxns on YouTube. There’s nothing better than listening to this music while reading the books in bed on a rainy evening.
So, if you prefer your stories linear and straightforward, skip this one. The Raven Cycle is an ancient, epic, mythical spiderweb injected with heart and feeling— a feeling akin to standing on the peak of an orange-tinged mountain in rural Virginia, closing your eyes, and letting the wind rush over your skin.