I was introduced to Maggie Stiefvater's work in 2009 when I picked up the novel Shiver, the first in the series The Wolves of Mercy Falls. I enjoyed the series, and while it wasn't my most favorite ever, there was something about Stiefvater's writing that hooked me. When the first book in The Raven Cycle came out, The Raven Boys, I was obsessed. Here's the thing. I'm a sucker for fantasy, and for magic, and while The Raven Cycle has that, it also has realism. Maggie Stiefvater is a master of magical realism in this series in a way that I haven't seen before. She creates the world of Henrietta, Virginia, and weaves in the magic so seamlessly, that even the most impossible feels plausible, and I never felt that tug that makes you want to say, "Oh, come on!"
Aside from the incredible magic, and lore throughout the series, what's also fantastic is each and every single character. The Raven Boys themselves are each strong characters with history, and feelings, and thoughts, and Blue Sargent is a fantastic heroine, and juxtaposition to the boys. That's another thing about Maggie Stiefvater. She knows how to write teenage boys in a way that makes them real, but also elevates them - especially the wealthy, snobby, and overly smartass Raven Boys. I knew boys like this in high school, and I find that many times, authors seem to struggle to find that balance with YA character boys - they end up being too sweet, too nice, too much of a bully, too much of a jock. The Raven Boys each have their own personalities, and fill out the angsty, put upon, jackass, smelly, sweaty, but also kindhearted teenage boy package perfectly.
Regarding the mythos, and the cars? Looks, Maggie knows her stuff, and it's abundantly clear that she spent a lot of time researching not only the mythical king the boys are trying to wake, but also the Virginia landscape, and all things tied to the magic in the area - ley lines, history. The best part is that all this research and work just fits in naturally, and never feels like it's been dropped in to show off the research. Everything has a place, and the pieces come together in such a way you know the work was done, but you feel it and see it instead of it bashing you over the head. I follow Maggie on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (oh the age of the internet) so I know she truly has a personal love of cars - and it shows in her work. It's fun to read, and has just enough technical jargon and know-how to fit the characters and the cars but without feeling overwhelming to a person like me, with pretty limited car vocabulary.
If you're into mythological sleeping kings, psychics, prep school boys, muscle cars, a little bit of forbidden romance, danger, dream worlds, familial drama, and more - do yourself a favor and pick up The Raven Boys. You won't be sorry, and the best part is that since the series is completed and all four books published, you won't have to bear the agony I did waiting between novels.