Normally when I write a book review I wait until I have read the entire book before I start, but there was something about this book that I had to start putting my thoughts down around a third of the way in.
Stiefvater’s writing is magical. It has this lilting prose feeling about it that sweeps you away into the story, but at the same time you find yourself admiring the gust of wind that you’ve been carried away on. It’s the melody of a instrumental Scottish folk tune, with such mournful, gut-wrenching sadness heard through the bagpipes, become words on a page. It’s a soothing lullaby that while giving you a feeling of warmth and comfort, make the hairs on your arms standing on end. It’s like reading modern-day tragic Shakepeare, but if he was also handing you a pinch of fairy dust and asking you to just believe and follow him towards the second star on the right, straight on ’til morning.
The story itself is wrapped in magic, wonder and mythology, but it holds a promise of so much more. A mesmerising tale full of ‘what ifs’, ripe with possibilities, yet beholden to that sharp-edged teenage drama that leaves you wanting to shake the characters because they didn’t say things out loud when they should have. Psychic energy mixed with star-crossed lovers, ley lines and jealousy, foretold death and the promise of something more.
The characters are complex, each with their own distinct voice, which makes this a particularly pleasant read. There is no particular point of view that the story is told from, but rather as if there was a narrator who could see into each of their souls and was relaying their journey to the reader. Blue, Gansey, Adam, Ronan and Noah seem to be caught in the spider web of circumstance and fate, test each of them are pulling entirely different strings that seem to not be connected at all. Each of them are reeling from something so completely seperate from each other that it’s hard to see how they are interwoven at all. And yet they all end up at the same place, as if there is nothing more than fate leading them down different paths to the one point where everything coincides.
Due to the way the story has been written, you find yourself knowing how it will end, waiting for the unthinkable to occur, but holding your breath and hoping that it won’t. It gives you this unmistakable feeling of hesitance to continue reading. The best analogy I can think of is that you’re stuck in traffic because there has been a terrible car accident ahead. You know that it is bad and that someone has been killed, and yet as you slowly arrive at the scene and make your way past it, you can’t help but stare even though you hope against hope that you don’t see anything. That’s the feeling that I had while the end of the book was approaching. That unsinkable feeling of knowing destruction is right around the corner, but hoping that is doesn’t arrive yet.
I think this is going to be one of those books that I consider for a long time, and the longer I consider it, the more likely it will make its way onto that extra-ordinary shelf I keep reserved for those particular one-off books.
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