Originally published at Winged Reviews.
There are some books that I rate highly because of a great plot or fantastic characters or wonderful world-building. It's very, very rare that one book will have all of those things or more in spades and even rarer that that book's words flow like poetry. Magical prose, is only one of the many highlights of The Raven Boys, the first book in what I'm sure will be an absolute must-read series. It's one of the most original, enjoyable and well-written books I've read in a very long time.
Blue Sargent is a young girl from a family of seers, but she doesn't have the same talent. On every eve of St. Mark's day, she goes to the local graveyard to take note of the souls her clairvoyant mother sees—people who will die within the next twelve months. Unexpectedly, this year Blue sees a soul herself and talks to it—a boy named Gansey. "There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark's Eve, Blue. Either you're his true love...or you killed him."
Despite all the romantic sentiments the synopsis promises, at its heart this book is a mystery. What starts out as an introduction to a fantastic cast of characters in small town Henrietta, Virginia, becomes a modern day quest to find the long-lost, legendary Welsh king, Owen Glendower.
The quest is Gansey's dream. Gansey is a Raven Boy, a nickname given to the rich students at Aglionby private school. Apathetic to his privileged life, Gansey has made it his mission to find the hidden resting place of the legendary king. His meticulous research on old myths and ley lines has led him to Henrietta and he enlists the help of his close circle of friends. Sweet, stubborn Adam, who resents privilege but strives for it; fierce, bad boy Ronan; quiet, mysterious Noah—all the Raven Boys are well-characterised and grow considerably throughout the book. I'm also a big fan of their friendship, which holds strong despite the odds. If I had to pick a favourite, I would definitely say Gansey. I’m drawn to his focus, leadership, but mostly just him being
him, his way and attitude of someone who is completely at ease with himself, his life purpose, and his place in the world.
The beauty of the story is all in the crafting of the detail. From Blue's unorthodox all-female family, to Ronan's pet raven, to the Raven Boys' converted factory apartment, to the outstandingly named Barrington Whelk. Little hints of information and development are all carefully weaved in, and I found myself uncovering something new and wonderful with each turn of the page.
There were many twists to the story that surprised me, despite all the little breadcrumbs sprinkled throughout. Just when I thought it was slowing down, it always managed to pull me back in with one amazing revelation after another. This book is as stubborn as Adam. It just wouldn't let me give it any less than a top rating. I would highly recommend this to anyone that loves reading for the sheer pleasure of it. It’s a wonderfully crafted story with wonderfully crafted characters.