Maggie Stiefvater has already had a pretty impressive career, but this is my first time reading her work. It was another one of the delightful spoils of being married to a future librarian, since Emily got this book for free at last year’s American Library Association Conference. The most awesome thing so far: not only does Emily have access to free books, she is also really good at choosing which ones she is going to grab for free.
The story begins with a girl named Blue. Born into a family of psychics, she doesn’t have their powers, but does have the ability to increase the energy of those around her, honing their abilities. So, she can’t hear or see supernatural things, but she turns up the volume for anyone who does. The book opens with the line, “Blue Sargent had forgotten how many times she’d been told that she would kill her true love.” Destined to kill her first love with a kiss, she has heard the same thing from every true psychic she’s ever met. Then, on the night of St. Mark’s Eve, where she goes each year so her mother can see the spirits of those who will die in the next year, and thus deliver the bad news to ones she knows. Blue can never see the spirits, until tonight when she sees one boy. It turns out, the only reason she would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve is either because he is her true love, or she will kill him. In her case, those are sort of the same thing.
I really love what Stiefvater does here. What seems like it will be just another run-of-the-mill young adult love story is anything but. Instead, it’s a story of magic, friendship, loneliness, and wrestling with the gap between who we are and who we want to be. Romance barely factors in at all, outside of the confusions and attraction of being a teenager. And romance certainly isn’t the force that drives the story along. Great characters, compelling narrative, and great prose are what kept the pages turning for me well after I should have put the book down to do something else.
When I finished this book, I was genuinely sad that I need to wait until September for the second book in the series to be released. The day after finishing it, I had a few moments of free time and thought, “I should read The Raven Boys… oh, wait, I finished it last night.” It was a real disappointment. I sure can’t wait to see what happens next, especially since she threw in a pretty fun hook in the book’s final line.