The Dream Thieves (The Raven Boys #2) by Maggie Stiefvater

In reviewing The Raven Boys back in February I had this to say about Maggie Stiefvater‘s style and approach:

When we think of imaginative fantasy you often think of world building-authors who create alternate worlds that are so detailed and functional that they seem real.  Stiefvater instead creates these wonderful characters and uses them to illustrate how magic infuses our world.  The result is a captivating mix of the weird, quirky, wonderful and dangerous.  It seems all to possible that there is this world out there that we could see if we had “the sight.”

I also lamented how long I had to wait to read the next book. Luckily, I didn’t have to wait too long to enjoy my next fix of the “weird, quirky, wonderful and dangerous” world of the Raven Boys in the sequel The Dream Thieves (Thank You, NetGalley!):

The Dream TheivesNow that the ley lines around Cabeswater have been woken, nothing for Ronan, Gansey, Blue, and Adam will be the same. Ronan, for one, is falling more and more deeply into his dreams, and his dreams are intruding more and more into waking life. Meanwhile, some very sinister people are looking for some of the same pieces of the Cabeswater puzzle that Gansey is after…

What I said above applies equally to this second book: great characters and relationships, wonderfully evocative prose, and a magic that infuses the whole and creates unexpected events and repercussions.

As is typical of second books in a series, we get to know the main characters more; delve into what makes them tick (to use a hoary cliche). The first part of the book explores Ronan, Gansey, Adam and Blue as they try to work out what the events of the past, and the possibilities of the future, mean to them individually and collectively.  Understanding and interpreting these events and their current and potential repercussions is not easy; and neither are the relationships within this unique group. Ronan’s backstory takes center stage and begins to bring out the magical core of the series.

This section has a meandering sense to it even as their are points of tension and the introduction, and deepening, of some other characters.  And then like the downshifting of Gansey’s Camero The Pig, the story takes off. With an hour or so of the book left I was furtively reading trying to find out what happened, what might happen and what it might mean.

The section where Ronan begins to understand what it means to be a dream thief was just awesome.  And the climatic result of the various threads coming together was very well done. Impactful without being over the top, dramatic without being cheesy, bringing some resolution without a too easy ending.  It gave you that jolt of both action and suspense but also denouement and understanding.

Stiefvater introduces some great characters in this one as well. The Gray Man is a familiar character (the steely killer who has erased the emotional part of his life) but also has enough quirks to make him different and interesting.  And Joseph Kavinsky is just great. Offensive and detestable but also somehow intriguing and captivating; almost amoral but also powerful and deeply creepy.

The tension and suspense are handled masterfully. Stiefvater does not rush to reveal secrets or explain every last detail she is comfortable with the story playing out through the actions of her characters and in their own good time.  Her descriptions and characterizations are so well done, however, that even in sections that move slowly the readers doesn’t mind. Henrietta, Virginia is a character itself in the story and she describes each character’s relationship to the town and region in compelling and evocative ways.

This is a series that pulls you forward even as you seek to savor it.  It balances those equally enjoyable sensations and that is what makes it great.  If you like fantasy, and/or paranormal, young adult literature this series is a must read.  But the characters and prose are enjoyable no matter what genre you tend to read. Good storytelling escapes easy classification and this is good storytelling.

No begins the wait for the next book …

Kevin Holtsberry
I work in communications and public affairs. I try to squeeze in as much reading as I can while still spending time with my wife and two kids (and cheering on the Pittsburgh Steelers and Michigan Wolverines during football season - oh, and watching golf too).

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