I read an exciting ghost story recently, about a boy who is destined to die but doesn’t know it yet. The line between death and life is thin: one dead king is laid to rest and protected by a magic that could one day awaken him, and a murdered boy walks among the living.
Then, there was another story about a girl who lives in a household of psychics, though she herself doesn’t seem to have any powers. And another one about a kid trying to escape his destructive circumstances with the powers of intelligence and determination.
Oh, wait. Those are all the same story.
Literature intended for young people is sometimes frighteningly thin, but there’s none of that in Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven Boys, a book full of magic and romance for readers in middle school and older. There’s enough story here for several books and, after the first couple of chapters, the entwined mysteries become so engrossing that it’s really difficult to put this book down. It’s a read-all-night kind of story.
Of the three main characters, the most interesting, and most relatable, is Blue. She lives in a house with her mother and assorted friends and relatives, all of whom are psychics (the real kind). Blue alone seems not to have any power, except that her presence amplifies the powers of those in her vicinity. While Blue is sometimes disappointed by her lack of extraordinary talents, she is by no means insecure about it. She’s wildly creative and individualistic, covering her walls with collage art and frequently creating new clothes from random scraps. What I like most about her is that she’s feisty. Blue speaks up when she doesn’t like how someone treats or speaks to her, even if that someone is one of the charming, rich students at the local boys’ boarding school.
Many of the secondary characters are just as compelling and real, especially Blue’s mother Maura. Like any parent, Maura tries to shelter her daughter from events and people that could be dangerous. But, unlike some parents, including characters in Stiefvater’s previous books, Maura doesn’t shy away from situations that she doesn’t fully understand. There’s not a lot of force or pressure in their relationship, and Maura’s authority doesn’t come from rules. Even when Blue disobeys, Maura’s anger doesn’t outweigh her compassion. There’s a lot of listening, and a lot of trust.
By the end of this book –– number one in the series –– few of the mysteries are solved, and more have been created. I’m eager for the next book, for more of Blue and Maura, more magic, more ghosts and Latin and buried kings. I’m also eager for fellow readers with whom to share theories and predictions about the next book, which will be out later this year. If you read this, do yourself a favor and read it with a friend or a book club –– or maybe even with your mom. I can imagine some very interesting conversations about parent-child relationships. Beyond that, I’m sure she’d love to see what you’re reading. After all, she’s not psychic.
Shannon blogs about her bookish life at www.shannonrigney.com