A black and blue deer on a white background with ravens flying around

About the Book

Title: The Raven King (The Raven Cycle #4)
Published: 2016

Cover Story: Don’t Buck the Trend
BFF Charm: Make It Rain Platinum
Talky Talk: Bow Down to the King Queen
Bonus Factors: World Building, The End
Relationship Status: Eternal Love

Yeah yeah, I know, this book came out like three weeks ago, and we already hosted a party line post about it. Call me a swimfan completist, but I just had to give The Raven King the proper book report treatment.

Normally in our reviews, we take great pains to avoid spoiling plot points beyond the story’s opening premise. But seeing as how this is the fourth and final novel in a series, and that series is The Raven Cycle, playing by our normal rules would result in a book report consisting solely of the words, “OMG!” and “GAH SO GOOD I CAN’T EVEN.”

Suffice it to say, if you haven’t read The Raven King yet, please don’t read this review*, because I’m going to discuss the shizz out of this book.

*I mean “review” in a very loose sense of the word, unless you count incessant quoting, abuse of all caps, and frequent freak-outs as literary criticism.

Cover Story: Don’t Buck the Trend

Let’s be honest, I would read this book even if the cover featured a girl in a fancy dress doing major PDA with a big face. But thankfully, after that Blue Lily/Edward Scissorhands blunder, the artwork for The Raven King is back on brand and really quite lovely.

The Deal:

Time is running out for our favorite ley liners, especially now that Piper has awoken a demon in super creepy giant wasp form. Not only is Gansey’s crusade (and life) at stake, the entire world of Cabeswater is soon under attack, and the combined magic of Blue and her Raven Boys might not be enough to save it.

The Spoilers:

After bridging it up in Blue Lily, Lily Blue, Stiefvater unleashes some major reveals/twists/action, so I’d like to take this opportunity to collectively WHOA over the following:

  • Ronan dreamed up Cabeswater!
  • Blue is half-tree spirit!
  • Ronan kissed Adam!
  • Glendower was just a dead old skeleton!
  • Ronan’s mom died!
  • Blue kissed Gansey!
  • Gansey died! But then he came back to life!
  • Noah… finally died? I think?

BFF Charm: Make It Rain Platinum

BFF charm holding an umbrella

You know how, in Furious 7, Vin Diesel considers his crew to be his family, and they’re all like RIDE OR DIE together? That’s exactly how I feel about Blue, Gansey, Adam, Ronan and Noah. (Although there was that point when Noah just looked like a decaying body and my consistent urge to give him a hug was suddenly diminished.) I love them as individuals, I love them as a team, I love how much they love each other. I love their dynamic and their inside jokes and their witty banter, and weeks after finishing the book, my life already seems a little pale without their company.

I mean, my friends are great, but they sure don’t send me texts like this:

It was Gansey. Parrish wants to know if you killed yourself dreaming just now please advise.

And it feels downright cruel to be forced to part ways just when Blue and Ronan have perfected their relationship.

“No homework. I got suspended,” Blue replied.
“Get the fuck out,” Ronan said, but with admiration. “Sargent, you asshole.”
Blue reluctantly allowed him to bump fists with her as Gansey eyed her meaningfully in the rearview mirror.

I mean, are these the greatest moments in literary history or are these the greatest moments in literary history?

Finally, Ronan said, “Jesus God, Sargent. Do you have stitches on your face? Bad. Ass. Put it here, you asshole.”

I wish I could fist bump with Ronan (and the rest of the gang) until the end of time.

Swoonworthy Scale: 8

FINALLY, we get some K-I-S-S-I-N-G up in this business!

First up, Ronan and Adam. Ronan’s been pining for a while, but in this book, we experience the full power of his feelings for Adam, and seeing the softer side of this razor-sharp boy melted my heart into a pile of goo that was then reduced to a puddle when he finally put the moves on Adam.

It was coming from so far away that he had plenty of time to put the mower away and get under cover. Instead, though, he just stood there and watched it approach. Even at the last minute, as he heard the rain pounding the grass flat, he just stood there. He closed his eyes and let the storm soak him.

That was this kiss.


Okay, real talk for a second, I didn’t 100% buy Adam’s end of the romantic equation, but then again, who can say no to Ronan Lynch?

As for Blue and Gansey, I am SUBLIME with happiness. They’re, like, a real couple! And they told their friends! And now they can (presumably) kiss whenever they want without fear of imminent death! Speaking of kiss, HEART. BREAKING. That ending (before the ending) slayed me. And who would’ve thought that a high school toga party could be so hot?

Talky Talk: Bow Down to the King Queen

When it comes to people currently in the writing game, I can’t think of a more gifted storyteller than Maggie Stiefvater. Her imagination is a wild beast that refuses to be tamed, unlike the words she wrangles with striking precision. The imagery in this book, as with the rest of the series, sears itself into your optic nerves, and when you blink a few days later, you can still see and hear and feel the imprint of this story.  

Ronan Lynch’s stare was a snake on the sidewalk where you wanted to walk. It was a match left on your pillow. It was pressing your lips together and tasting your own blood.


It’s the humor, though, that really leaves the reader enmeshed in this strange, wonderful world. There’s the barbs tossed back and forth, the playful ribbing, and then there’s scenes like this one in the Gansey household, where annoyance “was like a fine vanilla extract. It was used sparingly, rarely on its own, and was generally only identifiable in retrospect”:

“Oh yes, I noticed that, too, the Henrietta cadence,” Mrs. Gansey said warmly; they were excellent team players. Good save, point to the Ganseys, win for Team Good Feeling.

Helen said, “I nearly forgot about the bruschetta; it’s going to burn. Dick, would you help me carry it in?”

Team Good Feeling was abruptly disbanded.

Years from now (if not sooner), I have no doubt that this series will be considered a masterpiece, because the writing is that extraordinary.

Bonus Factor: World Building

Screenshot from Lord of the Rings with Frodo looking out at a magical city

Even as the story comes to a close, Steifvater couldn’t resist exanding this universe to include a tantalizing glimpse of the black market for magic. Laumonier is a tasty nugget of WTFery, while Piper gets the encore she deserves with a partner that’s equal to her batshit villainy–a killer dose of the heebie jeebies encased in an exoskeleton. Together, they make one hella scary Odd Couple:

“Are you harmful to the environment?” Piper had always been attentive to her carbon footprint. It seemed pointless to have spent two decades recycling if she was going to destroy an entire ecosystem.

There was one element that didn’t quite jive with me, and that was RoboBee. Like, seriously, what’s up with that?

Bonus Factor: The End

"The End" from Looney Tunes cartoon

To say that fans are invested in The Raven Cycle is an understatement, and I can’t imagine the stress of crafting a satisfying conclusion, but Stiefvater more than succeeded. Sure, there’s still a few loose ends out there (will Maura and the Gray Man ever be together again?!), but the major pieces of the story were resolved, including the quest for Glendower (some people might be pissed about that but I thought it was a great twist), and as much as I didn’t want to say good-bye, I walked away from the epilogue with a sense of peace and the assurance that these kids are gonna be aaaaaall right. 

Relationship Status: Eternal Love

I tried to think of a pun-ny joke for this status, like a riff on kings or royalty, but my devotion to The Raven Cycle is SERIOUS, and my feelings about The Raven King in particular are no laughing matter. Never have I felt so absolutely engrossed in a series; never have I wanted so badly to climb through the pages and into a world; never have my imagination and my heart been so thoroughly captured. As the final installment, this book met my high expectations with a wink and then soared past them while I savored every second with these characters who have become part of my literary soul.

I’m sure I’ll return to Henrietta soon, but in the meantime, amidst this raging case of TEABS, I can’t promise that I won’t tear up whenever I see an orange Camaro on the road or a squash at the grocery store (because Murder Squash) or a bowl filled with water and SHIT I’M A MESS YOU GUYS. Can we head to the comments so I can talk further about my feelings and maybe get a hug?


FTC Full Disclosure: I bought a copy of this book with my own money, and received neither cocktails nor money in exchange for this review. The Raven King is available now.

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Sarah lives in Austin, and believes there is no such thing as a guilty pleasure, which is part of why she started FYA in 2009. Growing up, she thought she was a Mary Anne, but she's finally starting to accept the fact that she's actually a Kristy.