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The Raven Boys (Raven Cycle, #1)The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

This is the problem with series. You get hooked on the characters and then you have to wait.

This one was all about the characters and atmosphere for me – it all felt very real and tangible, despite all the fantasy elements. There’s some suspense, and the romance elements felt relatively subdued, and there’s a bit of Welsh mythology thrown in, with a pleasantly Susan Cooper-ish feel to it. Also, I love Stiefvater’s sense of humor – the descriptions of the raven, for example, regularly cracked me up. But she slips the humor in without calling too much attention to it. I gobbled it up.

The only downside – the only thing that made it frustrating – is that lack of resolution that seems to come with series openers these days.

There’s some violence and swearing, and I don’t know where the rest of the series will go, but I’d hand this to sophisticated middle school readers and up (hey, if they start now they’ll grow into it).

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Linger (The Wolves of Mercy Falls, #2)Linger by Maggie Stiefvater

An enjoyable sequel to Shiver, with a nice amount of tension and the addition of a few new points of view that added more of what Stiefvater does so well – the snark (although I still don’t think this series is as compelling as Lament: The Faerie Queen’s Deception and Ballad: A Gathering of Faerie).

Some of the things that bothered me about the first book were still present, but there was enough going on to keep my mind off things like Grace’s parents. One nice touch was the way the werewolf theories from the first book were challenged – refreshing since it’s rare to see an origin story/explanation challenged that way in books dealing with the fantastic, magic, and unexplained phenomena. Usually you’re just given an explanation (“exposure to extreme heat can cure being a werewolf!”) and the series runs with it, but here one character sees flaws in the explanation and tries to find a new one.

Recommended to fans of the first book – it probably doesn’t stand as well on its own.

Source: my public library

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Ballad: The Gathering of Faerie (Books of Faerie, #2) Ballad: The Gathering of Faerie by Maggie Stiefvater

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
As with Lament: The Faerie Queen’s Deception (which you really ought to read before this one, because although this plot is mostly independent, the characters and set-up will make a whole lot more sense if read in order), I loved the snark. Here, the story is mostly from James’ point of view, while Dee is more of a background character. The other point of view is that of Nuala, a sort of muse-fairy. It’s still got the romance and drama, the undercurrent of fear, the can’t-trust-‘em fairies, the nerds, and the awesome quantity of snark. Some people might like these stories more for the fantasy elements, but I could care less – Stiefvater’s characters, in all their nerdy, snarky glory, make for my favorite kind of light, fun reading.

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