The Dream Thieves: review

The Dream Thieves (Raven Cycle #2)
Maggie Stiefvater
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Release Date: September 17th, 2013
Age Group: YA
Source: ARC provided by the publisher

This is the fantastical story of a boy tormented by nightmares that literally–literally!–become real. Set shortly after the events of The Raven Boys, the students of Aglionby Academy are still on the hunt for a legendary sleeping Welsh king. This time, while we continue to get perspectives from multiple POVs, the story primarily focuses on Ronan Lynch, a troubled and angry 17-year-old who pulls dark objects out of his dreams. But when ley lines running through their sleepy town are awakened, incredible power is unleashed, and none of the boys are prepared for the ordeal that awaits them.

I liked The Raven Boys so much that I was nervous going into this one–but I think this book actually surpasses its predecessor, in no small part because of its sharp-eyed character sketches. Adam still worries me. I feel tremendous love and pity for poor Noah. I’m eager to learn more about the entire Lynch clan. And I’m finally starting to feel something for Gansey, as well as to feel the lovely pulse of connection between him and Blue. Add to that a pair of compelling, nuanced antagonists in The Gray Man and one willfully destructive Joseph Kavinsky, and this world is filled with a host of unforgettable players. The author has the ability to create such fierce depth of feeling towards her characters with a single phrase such as “a teddy bear of a boy,” in reference to Ronan’s younger brother Matthew, whom you immediately want to cuddle and protect all at once.

I haven’t been able to stop thinking about this book since I finished it. I have so many crazy theories about where this quest will lead, and I desperately want to know what happens to everyone. Aside from thrilling, nightmarish scenes, gorgeous prose, wild revelations, shocking deaths, and clever humor, there are also delicious layers to this novel that you may not fully appreciate until after you’re through, including distinct symbolism (both subtle and powerful), sly hidden jokes, and a deep complexity of thought and plot and emotion. It’s such an interesting meditation on the power of dreams and how hidden desire can influence our actions, from Ronan’s waking nightmares to his mother and father’s unusual relationship to…more yearnings that I won’t spoil for you.

I could also write an entire essay about how The Dream Thieves contains one of the most beautiful, heartbreaking kisses in the history of kisses. (Yes. The ENTIRE HISTORY of kisses.) It’s a delicate moment that’s suffused with the breathless wonder of discovery, and it’s all the more poignant because it’s entirely unexpected, and because you are well aware of its context for both parties. Tears are literally welling up in my eyes again as I write this, because that type of longing and sadness pulls so deeply at my heart.

There isn’t any way for a single review to do justice to this book, but this line from The Dream Thieves sums up its own story rather nicely:

Magic was real, magic was real, magic was real.

And it runs deep and true through Maggie Stiefvater’s veins.

This review also appears on GoodReads. An advance copy was provided by the publisher.

P.S There’s a huge spoiler-tagged discussion going on in that GoodReads thread with theories on what everything MEANS, if you’d care to speculate.

I also participated in a rather epic chat with several authors about this book, including Sarah Ockler and RJ Anderson–and let me tell you, there are no better companions to discuss a story like this with than a bunch of smart, passionate authors who are just as excited about the book as you are. One of the mind-blowing takeaways from that discussion: consider the characters as tarot cards.


I want to reread this book immediately.

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