Literature / The Raven Cycle

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Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her. His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble. But Gansey is different. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little. For as long as she can remember, Blue has been told by her psychic family that she will kill her true love. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.

The series is written by Maggie Stiefvater and is set to be four books long. The first book in the series, The Raven Boys, was released September 18, 2012. The second book, The Dream Thieves, was released September 17, 2013. The third, Blue Lily, Lily Blue, was released October 21, 2014. The fourth, The Raven King, was originally scheduled to be released in September 29, 2015, but was pushed back to April 26, 2016 in order to give Maggie Stiefvater more time to edit.


The Raven Cycle contains examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Adam's dad. His mother is also complicit, although she doesn't physically hurt him.
  • Aerith and Bob: 300 Fox Way is filled with women named Blue, Orla, and Neeve, but also Maura and Persephone.
  • Adult Fear: Adam's fear of his abusive father, never being able to get away from him, becoming like his father, being able to pay rent on time, balancing three jobs and school along with his supernatural life, being able to afford college, never being good enough. For Adam, adult fear causes as much panic as the supernatural threats.
    • In Blue Lily, Lily Blue, the Gray Man is afraid of Blue getting hurt or killed, as he's come to care for her like his own daughter.
  • The Alleged Car: The "Hondayota" that Gansey's family buys for Adam in The Dream Thieves. It's apparently made up of parts from at least three different cars, all of them different colors and, judging by the name, probably different makers too.
    • The Pig, Gansey's Camaro, weirdly crosses this with Cool Car. On the one hand, it's a classic, sporty muscle car with an insanely powerful engine. On the other hand, it rattles, breaks down constantly, is super cramped on the inside, smells like gasoline, is so loud the characters have to yell to be heard whenever they drive places in it, and the radio and air conditioner are almost always weak or broken.
  • Aliens in Cardiff: Ancient dead Welsh king in Henrietta, Virginia
  • Anyone Can Die: In Blue Lily, Lily Blue, Persephone.
  • Arc Number: 6:21 appears a lot in The Raven King.
  • Author Appeal: Cars and car-related things (gasoline, drag racing, driving, mechanic shops, etc.) feature very heavily as plot points and symbols. Maggie Stiefvater really likes cars and even owns two of the cars that appear in the series (a 1973 Camaro and a Mitsubishi Evo).
  • Badass Normal: So far, all of the main characters except for Gansey have some kind of supernatural affinity. Gansey's superpower is (basically) being a Kennedy.
    • Although, In "The Raven King" Gansey figures out he can magically command certain things to happen.
  • The Big Damn Kiss: While all of the kissing in the series is pretty significant and dramatic, the outstanding example is unquestionably from The Raven King, when Adam kisses Ronan after everyone else leaves the Barns. It's the absolute confirmation that Adam loves Ronan back, and Ronan's internal narration burns with joy.
    • Then of course there's the one the entire series has been leading up to.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Latin is used frequently in the story and it's considered the one area where Ronan excels.
  • Bi the Way: Adam, and possibly Kavinsky.
  • Boarding School: Aglionby, though none of the main characters live on campus.
  • Boyish Short Hair: Blue gives the appearance of this through an assortment of hair clips. She actually has a bob cut.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Gansey, although he's pretty good at hiding it when he's in high society.
  • Cassandra Truth: The others don't believe Noah's claims that he's dead. That is until the second half of The Raven Boys when they find his body. When they discover this, he is quick to point out that he did flat out tell them several times, they just never listened.
  • Clever Crows: Chainsaw the raven qualifies, and may have slightly above average intelligence given that she's a dream thing.
  • Cool Car: Gansey's Camaro. Kavinsky's Evo also qualifies, as do some of the cars driven by members of his "dream pack".
  • Creepy Crows: Some of the motifs in the books. Also, the Night Terrors.
  • Dead All Along: Noah. Though to be fair, he did tell them several times. They just never listened.
  • Dead Person Conversation: In the third book, Adam has an entire conversation with Persephone before realizing said character is dead.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Blue and Ronan get in some good lines at other characters' expenses.
  • Destructive Romance: Zig-Zagged with Ronan and Kavinsky. While definitely written like a Domestic Abuse scenario, they're not actually in a relationship, both are closeted for most of The Dream Thieves, and Ronan ultimately rejects Kavinsky. However, there's still a strong romantic/sexual undercurrent to their relationship, which is what makes Kavinsky's behavior escalate from drugging, stalking, and abuse to outright kidnapping and attempted murder.
  • Disappeared Dad: Blue's. Reappears in Blue Lily, Lily Blue.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: The Grey Man is a remorseless professional killer, but he draws the line at kidnapping a minor to be turned over for who-knows-what purposes- that could include killing or torture- as part of his Heel–Face Turn.
  • Evil Teacher: Whelk. Later, Greenmantle.
  • Evil Parents Want Good Kids: Arguably, Niall Lynch. While not actually evil, he has a dubious past and his fair share of secrets, but he wanted his sons to live good lives.
  • Five-Man Band
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Ronan is choleric, Adam is melancholic, Noah is phlegmatic, and Gansey is sanguine.
  • Friendship Trinket: Adam gives his watch to Orphan Girl in The Raven King, and it reappears several times as a symbol of their trust and affection for each other.
  • Has Two Mommies: Blue was raised in a house full of her mom's friends and extended family, so she was brought up by her mom, her aunts, and her mother's two best friends.
    • Ronan and Adam are pretty much the male version of this for Orphan Girl in The Raven King.
  • The Hecate Sisters: With Persephone as the maiden, Maura as the mother, and Calla as the crone. They're all approximately the same age, but otherwise fit these roles perfectly.
  • Human Sacrifice: Noah.
  • Iconic Outfit: Adam gets hit with this both in and out of universe. He wears a red Coca-Cola shirt to Gansey's first reading at 300 Fox Way, and from then on all the women there call him "Coca-Cola shirt". The fans are similarly attached—the Coca-Cola logo and shirt come up only slightly less frequently than trees in fanworks. This is all despite the fact that he's never actually seen wearing that shirt again.
  • Indirect Kiss: Gansey finishes off a pot of fruit-at-the-bottom yogurt for Blue, and thinks about her mouth being the last thing to touch the spoon.
  • In-Series Nickname: Gansey thinks "Blue" is a ridiculous name and decides to call her "Jane" instead. It ends up morphing into an Affectionate Nickname.
    • The women of 300 Fox Way, especially Calla, rarely refer to Blue's friends by their names. Instead, Gansey is "the pretty one", Ronan is "the snake", and Adam is "Coca-Cola shirt". Noah avoids this only because as a ghost he can't go in the house.
    • "Gansey" is itself a nickname, though not a particularly special one since all the Aglionby boys call each other by last name. "Gansey boy", the crew team's name for him, is a straighter example.
  • King in the Mountain: Owen Glendower, whom the boys are looking for.
  • Kiss of Death: Blue is constantly reminded that if she kisses her true love, he will die.
  • Last Name Basis: Gansey. His full name—Richard Campbell Gansey III—is rather pretentious on it's own, but combined with the fact that in his name is shortened to "Dick", he has a good reason to insist on his last name.
    • This is pretty standard among Aglionby students, even close ones like Gansey and his friends—they mainly reserve first names for intense, emotional, or intimate moments. Blue lampshades this on her first excursion with the boys.
    This all seemed very manly and Aglionby to Blue, this calling of one another by last names and bantering about outdoor urinary habits.
    • Part of what sets Noah apart from the rest of Gansey's friends is that they all call him by his first name rather than his last. Which is Czerny.
  • Love Dodecahedron: Kavinsky is attracted to Ronan. Ronan is initially unattached, but eventually realizes he likes Adam. Adam likes Blue, but also may return Ronan's feelings. Blue initially likes Adam, but in The Dream Thieves reveals herself to be more fond of Gansey. Gansey is married to the search for Glendower, but is attracted to Blue as well. Blue also kisses Noah, who so far no one is interested in romantically.
    • Kavinsky is also convinced Ronan/Gansey is another point of the Dodecahedron.
  • Meaningful Name: Ronan's mother is named Aurora, like the princess in Sleeping Beauty. In The Dream Thieves, it's revealed that Aurora Lynch was created by Ronan's father, and became catatonic after his death. She is "asleep" unless in Cabeswater.
  • Mistaken for Romance: Kavinsky thinks that Ronan's devotion to Gansey must be romantic (or at least sexual). In reality, Gansey is like a brother to him.
  • Mood Whiplash: Usually pulled once or twice per book to lighten an especially angsty or tense scene, often through the use of the murder squash song.
  • Muggle Born of Mages: Blue is the only non-psychic in her family.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Not strictly speaking as we do learn what it is, but in Blue Sargent's family, her father is always referred to as "Butternut."
    • Played straight with The Gray Man. For the most part. Greenmantle learns his real name and reveals it to the readers, but none of the other characters know.
    • Blue is this in-universe to Malory, who only knows her as Jane, although he doesn't know that's a nickname.
  • OOC Is Serious Business: Whenever Ronan is calm/quiet for longer than a few minutes, it becomes concerning.
  • Prince Charming : Gansey.
  • Princely Young Man: Gansey, again.
  • Red String of Fate: When Blue sees Gansey's spirit on the corpse road, she knows that he will almost certainly be her true love.
    • More accurately, her family insists this is the case. Blue rejects this idea and instead pursues her feelings for Adam, not wanting her life to be dictated by Because Destiny Says So and prophecy.
    • In-universe, it's more like Blue's family has been strangling her with the Red String her entire life.
  • Relationship Upgrade: In The Dream Thieves, Blue and Gansey have a miniature version of one when they finally admit that they like each other and start their tradition of romantic late night drives, which are basically secret, unofficial dates. Happens again in The Raven King, when they finally admit their relationship to Ronan and Adam and officially start dating, though Adam is angry that they never even gave him a chance to be okay with it and just assumed that he wouldn't be.
    • Ronan and Adam also go through this in The Raven King, with Ronan finally making an actual, non-mixtape-or-lotion move, and Adam coming to understand that he's in love with Ronan. The epilogue, set about 8 months later, establishes that they're still dating and, it's implied, are in a fairly serious relationship and may even be living together.
  • Running Gag: Jane and Butternut are used this way sometimes. In the third book, we have the "murder squash song".
  • Scholarship Student: Adam.
  • Screw Destiny: Blue tries to take this approach with her love life. Key word here being tries.
    • Being surrounded by psychics your whole life can give a person mixed feelings on destiny.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: Gansey uses his dad's authority to help Ronan stay at school.
  • Seers: Everyone at 300 Fox Lane, except Blue.
  • Shaggy Dog Story: After four books of searching for Glendower in the hopes of waking him and obtaining a magical favor, the gang finally finds him... and he's been dead for centuries.
  • Ship Tease: Ronan and Adam are heavily teased in Blue Lily, Lily Blue. Adam's chapters almost all make a point of mentioning how handsome and incredible Ronan is, and we find out that not only does he know about Ronan's feelings for him, but he's pleased and actually thinks he's unworthy of Ronan liking him. While Ronan doesn't have any POV chapters, he does give Adam several gifts (including a freaking mix tape), and the two of them spend tons of time together apart from the other characters. Even when they are around other people, they spend most of that time paired with each other in some way (thinking about each other, standing close together, talking mainly to each other, smirking at each other's jokes, excluding other people, etc.). Adam also mentions how similar Ronan is to Blue, his ex-girlfriend.
    • Blue/Noah is also teased in The Dream Thieves when they make out, after which Noah says he'd ask Blue out if he was alive and she says she would say yes.
  • Shout-Out: Besides the obvious raven motif, Ronan's dream of Adam wearing the mask in TDT is reminiscent of Edgar Allen Poe's Masque of the Red Death.
    • More blatantly, the author has said that (Dick) Gansey calls Blue "Jane" as a reference to Dick and Jane.
  • Sir Swearsalot: Ronan. Adam compares his swearing to poetry and says he actually sounds much harsher when he's not swearing.
  • Straight Gay: In the second book we find out Ronan Lynch is gay. It's implied that Kavinsky is queer as well.
  • Tarot Troubles: Unsurprising, since Blue's relatives are professional psychics.
  • Team Pet: Chainsaw.
  • The Team Benefactor: Gansey, duh.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Adam in The Dream Thieves, as a result of the trauma from his father's abuse and his sacrifice at the end of The Raven Boys. He gets nicer again by the end of the book.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: Ronan in The Dream Thieves. He was already a Jerk with a Heart of Gold in the first book, but the second one shows just how much he actually loves his friends and family, even though his emotional trauma makes him bad at expressing it.
    • Declan in The Dream Thieves and Blue Lily, Lily Blue, by way of protecting his brothers even while being threatened by a hitman and driving 4 hours from DC to Henrietta every Sunday to go to church with them. Though since it's Declan, it's implied he may have motives besides just looking out for his family. Happens again in The Raven King, when he and Ronan finally reconcile and he proves that he ultimately does love his family.
    • Adam in Blue Lily, Lily Blue, where he's much nicer to and more understanding of other characters, and consciously tries to control his temper.
  • The Unfavorite: In the Lynch family, Ronan explains that he was Niall Lynch's favorite and youngest brother Matthew was Aurora Lynch's favorite, which leaves eldest brother Declan to be no one's favorite.
  • Wham Line: Maggie likes to end each book with one, though there are a few in the middle as well:
    • In Blue Lily, Lily Blue: "Matthew's mine. He's one of mine."
    • In The Raven Boys:
    Gansey: We found a body. Rotted to bones. Do you know whose it was?
    Noah: Mine.
    • In The Raven King: Did you dream Cabeswater?
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Adam leaves St. Agnes before we can see how Ronan deals with his dead double and the bloodstain on the church carpet. They never bring it up to each other again.
  • Where It All Began: Gansey's search for Glendower begins and ends at the estate where he was stung to death as a child.
    • Thanks to the ley line's unusual flow of time, Noah's existence as a ghost comes to an end When It All Began, as he and Gansey are simultaneously dying on the line seven years before the events of the books.
  • Who Names Their Kid "Dude"?: Gansey wonders at first if "Blue" is a nickname, and decides "Jane" is a much better name for her.
    • Blue herself has this reaction in Blue Lily, Lily Blue when she finds out that her aura is blue. She wonders if it's like naming a dog Spot.
  • Writers Cannot Do Math: The timeline is... confusing. Blue is 16 at the start of the series, but then turns 18 a few months later in Blue Lily, Lily Blue (mentioning that she's "lived eighteen years as the town psychic's daughter"). Also, Gansey apparently came to Henrietta 18 months prior to the start of The Raven Boys. Adam also says he has been friends with Gansey for 18 months. Yet somehow, Gansey was friends with Ronan in Henrietta for months before meeting Adam. And that's just the tip of the iceberg.
    • Gansey knew Ronan before he moved to Henrietta and is shown to have spent time with him in childhood, so it's likely they met through their parents.
  • You Called Me X, It Must Be Serious: In The Dream Thieves when Gansey says "Blue" instead of "Jane," Blue knows something serious is going on.
    • Whenever the two are having a more serious moment, you know Gansey's emotions are getting to him when he calls her Blue.
    • Ronan rarely calls Adam by his first name outside of his dreams, and when he does it's typically at a pivotal moment.


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