In this third book of The Raven Cycle, the gang is back on the trail of Owen Glendower, after a detour into Ronan’s psyche in The Dream Thieves. Blue’s mother, Maura, has disappeared searching for Glendower and, in the prologue, Adam and Persephone see three sleepers – one to wake, one not to wake and one in between. The three sleepers are the ley line of this book, though there are many wanderings off it.
One of the glories of these books is the characters. On the side of the angels (probably) are the Raven Boys themselves – all adorable in their own way, like a good boy band: Gansey the charming one, Ronan the dark, brooding one, Adam the apparently ordinary one and Noah, the dead one. The women at 300 Fox Way come into focus a bit more too. Then we have Roger Malory, Gansey’s mentor and “international ley line expert” who comes with his Dog on a visit (and the Dog, even though mute, manages to be a character in his own right), the Grey Man, assassin and courter of Maura; and JESSE DITTLEY, guardian of a cave and a curse. Wearing black hats, we have the banally evil Colin Greenmantle and his wife, the Stepford-perfect and conscienceless Piper. And the jury is out on which side crazy Gwenllian is on – she’s the daughter of Glendower, and may or may not be one of the sleepers. This is a huge cast of characters but each one is distinctly drawn and smacks you around the head from the page.
The other glory is the writing. With a few choice flicks of words, Stiefvater can conjure up a mood, place or character that is so sharply defined you can taste and smell it: Adam “had spackled confidence too heavily over his anxiety for it to be invisible.” And she easily manages the balance between the flights of ethereal fantasy and the bathos of everyday life in Henrietta: “It was cool and overcast, with no interference from the sun’s force or the lunar schedule or nearby road construction.”
To be sure the plot is very dense and a little rambling. I suspect it would be pretty hard to pick up without having read at least the first book of the series. I’m not sure I always knew what was going on, but that was probably because I was chunking it down in great gobbets instead of savoring it as it really requires.
Why hasn’t this series got the traction it deserves? Are the plotlines too complex? Maybe it’s the slightly nonlinear, vignette-style of writing. Or perhaps dead Welsh kings just don’t have the pulling power of werewolves. Whatever it is, I’m on a mission to get more readers into this series.
Thanks to Netgalley for the review copy.