Maggie Stiefvater is famous for her fantasy novels. “The Dream Thieves,” the second book (on the New York Times Best Sellers list) in “The Raven Cycle,” is a story full of magic, violence, love and foreboding: When Blue, one of the protagonists, first gives her true love a kiss, he will die.
So Blue, quite understandably, is afraid to kiss either of the two boys she is attracted to. They are entirely different kinds of boys. Adam is from her hometown, poor but with big ambitions and an abusive father. The other, Richard Gansey, is from her town only while he is attending the private prep school, Aglionby Academy, and he is a complete charmer, smooth and sophisticated but single-minded in his search for a long-dead king.
The third in the unlikely group of friends is Ronan, son of a man who was murdered mysteriously, and whose immense wealth was just as mysterious. Ronan finds out the source of his father’s wealth in this book. He also finds out why his father’s will was equally mysterious — forbidding the three sons from stepping foot on the family farm while at the same time leaving each wealthy in his own right.
There is also Noah, who has died, but whose ghost seems to remain, able to talk and generally interact with the boys and Blue.
Without reading the first book, a reader will be lost regarding the group’s mission: finding the lost Welsh king Glendower. Adam’s life has changed since he awakened the ley lines, magical elements which provide some of the magic the group is seeing. Ronan, who can bring things back from his dreams, is realizing the cost of that particular magic. Blue, who comes from a family of psychics, is putting pieces together.
There are also some sinister characters introduced in this book. Who could imagine a likable hit man? Maggie Stiefvater, of course. Most readers will actually root for him.
“The Dream Thieves” continues the magic and mystery of “The Raven Boys.” It delves more deeply into the complex characters and the mystery of their search. What drew these friends together? And will the bonds survive the violence and evil that lurk in the magical forest (which has disappeared) and in Ronan’s dreams? These are questions that will plague the reader until the next book.
This reviewer has a minor complaint. Stiefvater creates magnificent worlds full of magic and unique ideas. Her characters are full of depth and personality. Her plots are intriguing and mysterious. But in this book, it seems as if she is trying to throw extra figurative language into the mix with mixed success. Some of the language seems out-of-context and actually disengages the reader from the plot.
A few examples: “Somewhere, a violin sang with vicious victory.”
“Somewhere in there was Gansey’s mother, stretching her hands out to the hungry D.C. off-the-rack suit crowd, offering them treasure in heaven in return for votes.”
“The unseen violin wailed. The acoustics gave the impression the instrument was imprisoned in the chesterfield by the door.”
A minor complaint. But so much of the rest is superb, weak metaphors and similes seem jarring.
Please note: This review is based on the advance reader’s copy provided by the publisher, Scholastic Press, for review purposes.
Follow the National Book Examiner on Facebook and Twitter.
If you would like to continue receiving book reviews, including information about author appearances, author interviews and giveaways, please click the “Subscribe” icon. It’s free and anonymous. Thank you for reading, and thank you for sharing this article with others.