The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
I’ve read and loved Maggie Stiefvater’s books before. I think she’s one of the best sentence-writers working in YA today. I named her fairy books as some of my favorites I read in 2011. I enjoyed the Shiver series, and The Scorpio Races, but not quite as much as Lament or Ballad. In The Raven Boys, first of a planned series, I see a lot of what I liked so much about that first couple books. There’s an ethereal quality, a sense of things just off the edge of normal. Though there is a sense of longing, this book is less of a love story than the fairy books.
The title of Raven Boys comes from the mascot and sweaters of the students at a prep school called Aglionby. They have a reputation for arrogance and disgusting shows of wealth. One of these privileged boys, Gansey, is obsessed with finding the ley line, a mysterious source of energy and magic, and a Welsh king that might be buried along it. In this quest, he has help from three friends, each one a misfit in one way or another: the troubled fighter, the scholarship kid, and the shy, insubstantial one. The boys meet Blue, a daughter of a psychic, who joins their group and its adventures. It becomes a bit of a ghost story about halfway through. There are some class issues that the story brings up, as Gansey is always being reminded of his privilege.
As befits the first in a series, the ending leaves a lot of ends untied. A villain is defeated, and the ley line is awoken, but the Welsh king still sleeps. The book begins with a hint that Gansey and Blue will fall in love, or she’ll kill him, before the story is over. Blue lives under a curse that when she kisses her one true love, it will kill him. Niether of these things have happened yet, but Chekhov’s gun says one of them will before this is all over. It’s going to be a four-book series, and Stiefvater has been turning out her books pretty quickly. She’s also recently signed a movie deal for the series.