Maggie Stiefvater continues to outdo herself with each installment of The Raven Cycle. Usually by the middle of a multi-book series, an author either phones it in, throws in an unnecessary love triangle, or bogs the plot down with so much detail it's unclear if he or she knows how everything will end. Not so with Stiefvater, who's known for meticulously tying up loose threads and intricately adding in subtext in passages obsessive readers can pore over again and again for clues about characters' feelings, desires, and outcomes. For a lyrical writer with a gift for original metaphors and evocative language, she's managed to make this third book feel simultaneously fast-paced and leisurely. You won't want it to end, even as you're racing to the final page and counting the hours until the final installment in this riveting, layered tetralogy.
Somehow, against all odds, these books keep getting better and better. The character development, particularly for Adam and Ronan, is amazing -- as in, readers will be amazed at how perfectly these two fit together. Their scenes are so obvious they're reminiscent of Ron and Hermione's in the last two Harry Potter volumes, when you're waiting and waiting for them to stop all the hormonal bantering and bickering and just kiss already. Of course, kissing is the one thing Blue and Gansey can't do, so they make up for it with electrifying hand-holding and knee touching and basically staring at each other longingly. But the romances take a back seat to all the action, which involves new discoveries, secrets, and heartbreak -- all of which is so involved and engaging you'll just have to read it yourself. Just make sure to clear your calendar before you start.