the raven boys book review

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater: Book Review

Pub DateSeptember 18, 2012
Page Count409 pages
GenreYA, Fantasy, Paranormal
Goodreads Star Rating4.05
My Star Rating 4

The Raven Boys Book Summary

The Raven Boys is an urban fantasy focused on Blue, who lives with a family of psychics while having no special powers herself. She learns from a young age that she will kill her true love with a kiss. So, she avoids falling in love until she sees a ghost of a boy named Gansey which means that she will either kill him or is his true love. Gansey is obsessed with finding an old Welsh king with his group of friends and this leads them to Blue’s mother. And though Blue wants to stay away, the mystery of the Welsh king is intriguing, so she joins Gansey’s group of friends and starts exploring old and nameless magic.

The Raven Boys Book Review

The prose in The Raven Boys is fantastic. The descriptions are just enough to allow you to imagine everything so easily. Especially the settings — like Gansey’s apartment, for example, or Cabeswater. The dialogue is crisp and interesting to follow, and quite accurate to how teenagers would speak. 

What’s even better is all the character work. All of the characters are so intricately built that none of them feel like side characters, but heroes of their own stories. You can’t help but love them and feel like they could exist somewhere because of how well they’re written. 

The Raven Boys is not a fast-paced book. Blue finally becomes friends with the Raven boys at about 50% and there’s not a ton going on aside from exploring. A lot of time is spent introducing you to all of these characters and who they are, so you really care for each of them by the time shit hits the fan. And it does, but near the end.

The only thing I kind of didn’t like about this book is the ending — it felt a little rushed and unfinished. But it’s a series so it also makes sense that some things are left to be answered in other parts. I already started reading The Dream Thieves, which is part two of The Raven Cycle, and I’m loving it so far. 


  • Some of the most memorable characters 
  • A sweet, barely-there romance
  • Fantastic side characters
  • Amazing world and magic
  • Lovely setting

Read The Raven Boys if you like…

  • Mystery 
  • Found family and super close friend groups
  • Ghosts and paranormal elements
  • Exploring and adventure
  • Age-appropriate teenagers

Avoid The Raven Boys if you don’t like…

  • Books where romance is extremely subtle
  • YA characters and writing
  • Fantasy in an urban setting
  • Slow paced novels

And here are a few more things you should know about The Raven Boys:

  • It’s written in third POV from several perspectives, mainly Blue and Gansey’s
  • The romance is really not the focus of it, even though the plot makes it seem like it is. I assume this book was marketed towards the Twilight-loving audience of the time (ergo the whole “true love” as the main draw, when it’s not even a huge thing in the first book).
  • There is no love triangle
  • Trigger warnings for death (murder) and physical harm. 

Books Like The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

1. Your Blood, My Bones by Kelly Andrew

Your Blood, My Bones is an urban fantasy much like The Raven Boys and it contains similar elements like friendship, exploration, horror and wild magic. It also has a sweet romance subplot that ties the whole thing together. This is a YA standalone and you can check out my full review here

2. Other books by Maggie Stiefvater

Maggie Stiefvater has a pretty huge backlog so you can enjoy more of her work and her worlds. I haven’t read any but I liked the premise of the Shiver series. That one is about werewolves and I really wanted to read it as a tween. There’s also The Scorpio Races which follows two competitors in a very dangerous horse race. So, take your pick and enjoy.

And some honorable mentions…

  • The Secret History by Donna Tartt (because Maggie Stiefvater recommends it herself as something similar to The Raven Boys, but for older audiences)
  • The Foxhole Court by Nora Sakavic (for queer representation and friendship; it’s also a series)
  • Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo (for friendship and found family with memorable characters)


Does The Raven Boys have queer characters?

Yes, The Raven Boys does have queer characters, but it’s not explicitely stated in the book. Queer relationships are explored more and appear in book two (The Dream Thieves) and others. 

Is The Raven Boys a love triangle? 

No, The Raven Boys is not a love triangle. In fact, romance is a minor aspect of the book. However, fans do like to say that each character in the main group is in love with the rest of them, and I would agree that they all have really special relationships with each other. 

Is The Raven Boys appropriate for young readers?

Yes, I would say that The Raven Boys is appropriate for anyone 12+. There’s no sexual content or extreme violence. There is drinking, however, not on page but described. Otherwise, the book is pretty sweet and mostly explores friendship and magic.

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