Title: Blue Lily, Lily Blue
Series Title: The Raven Cycle
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Date Added: March 4, 2017
Date Started: March 5, 2017
Date Finished: April 7, 2017
Reading Duration: 34 days
Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal/Supernatural, Young Adult (YA), Romance
Shares Paradigms With: Sleeping Beauty, Welsh Mythology, Final Fantasy VII, Final Fantasy X, Inception
Blue Sargent has found things. For the first time in her life, she has friends she can trust, a group to which she can belong. The Raven Boys have taken her in as one of their own. Their problems have become hers, and her problems have become theirs. The trick with found things, though, is how easily they can be lost.
****Spoilers for The Raven Boys and The Dream Thieves in the review****
I haven’t read a series so diligently since GRRM’s A Song of Ice and Fire, and I can say with all honesty that this is the best one I’ve read since Martin’s masterpiece. The third installment brings back the strength that the second slightly lacked, though The Dream Thieves made up for it in dangerous whimsy. The land of dreams is a perilous place, but even more so when those dreams become flesh.
In Blue Lily the stakes are far higher because there is far more to lose. Maura’s disappearance at the end of the last book pulls this into sharp relief with only a cryptic note to her whereabouts. This adds to the “absent mother” paradigm that’s just generally pervasive and ties Blue and Ronan together for the latter’s catatonic one (when she’s not in Cabeswater).
The magic in this book and the series entirely is more subtle than flashy. It comes in fits and bursts like the ley line’s influence even though it centers around psychic matriarchy, bordering the line between magical realism and the general fantasy genre.
All of the characters are magical creatures. Ronan’s dreams become life. Blue amplifies. Adam is the Magician. Noah’s a ghost. And Gansey is a king…and the king must die. In every iteration, Ms. Stiefvater comes back to that focal point. It is the beginning and the end of the Cycle, which in itself is an important part of the story, too. The way psychic power is explained is that it’s merely a way to look at time. Most people have a memory of the past, but psychics have a memory of the future, but then again it’s really all one and the same. If you know the past, you can predict the future, and I’m beginning to get the meta sense of The Raven Cycle itself.
The quest for Glendower takes Blue and co to what appears to be not only a promising location for the Welsh King, but also where she hopes to find her mother. Though whether it should be “her and co” or “Gansey and co” is a loaded question. The non-psychic amplifier was adopted into their group, but the boys were also adopted into 300 Fox Way. Blue is like the non-magical princess of a fairy tale land, yet her presence is vital to keeping the magic alive, and Gansey is a king searching for a king.
Everything about Richard Gansey III is regal and yet it’s also a mask he wears. He’s both a legitimate teenager and a monarch. Born into money and high society, while he struggles to understand Adam and Blue’s point of view, he’s not malicious or uncaring. The Gansey Blue comes across in the first book is the facade Gansey, the persona he projects. In finding out that this series is going to be made into a TV venture, I’m now struggling to think who could pull him off. The actor would have to have the regal bearing, yet vulnerable undertone. He’s brilliant and driven, yet there’s this innocence about him as well.
Because of the way this and the other books are written, all five of the teenagers and quite a few of the adults take their place as main character in various chapters (there are even a few where the villain characters hold sway). The reader is never quite sure what character the next chapter will focus on , and it reminds me a bit of GRRM as it’s written from the third person, limited perspective. This creates numerous ironies of us, the readers, knowing things the characters don’t, though now more people know about Gansey’s ultimate demise than just Blue and the psychics of 300 Fox Way, and now the quest for the sleeping king means more to his co-conspirators than just fulfilling the desires of a friend. However, I’m unsure where the idea came from that Glendower would grant whomever wakes him a wish, and I’m certain it will not be so simple as that.
There are more surprises in this book than even the prior one about two private school boys who can pull things from dreams, because reality is always stranger, and there’s none quite so strange as the person whose words make up the circuitous title. She is intrinsically connected to Glendower, and her presence means the hopes of finding him may not be in vain.
Blue Lily brings the series right back up to a five star rating that only slipped one due the prior’s pacing. The promise of unimaginable revelation and phenomenal writing make this not only one of the best series I’ve read, but the easiest to breeze through. It is unbelievably difficult to just stop after one chapter (since I usually read this during my lunch break), and I often forge ahead if the one just finished was fairly short.