The Dream Thieves – How to Raise the Stakes in a Series!

Book Review : The Dream Thieves
The Raven Cycle

By Maggie Stiefvater

Spoiler Alert!



Now that the ley lines around Cabeswater have been woken, nothing for Ronan, Gansey, Blue, and Adam will be the same. Ronan, for one, is falling more and more deeply into his dreams, and his dreams are intruding more and more into waking life. Meanwhile, some very sinister people are looking for some of the same pieces of the Cabeswater puzzle that Gansey is after…

(Courtesy of

Adult Point of View

The second book in a series must raise the stakes, create hyper-tension, to keep the reader engaged. Stiefvater is masterful in connecting hints and raising the tension. In the first book, The Raven Boys, we learn of a teacher who murdered his friend for power. He’s gone by the second book, but don’t despair because instead, there is a hit man. A professional killer trumps a single crime as an antagonist.

“‘That was a lie,’ the Gray Man said. ‘I’m sorry. I had to think quickly when you said I couldn’t have a reading.’
‘So what’s the truth?’
‘I’m a hit man.’
This confession ushered in several moments of silence…..He did absolutely nothing to make his words easier to accept. It was impossible to tell if he was asking them to believe him or to humor him or to fear him. He merely laid out his confession and waited.” (p. 112-113)

The hit man isn’t everything he seems.

“He had brought her two things: a daisy-chain crown, which he somberly placed on her head, and a pink switch blade, which he handed to her. Both had taken some effort to procure. The first because the Gray Man had forgotten how to efficiently link daisies and the second because switchblades were illegal in Virginia, even if they were pink.” (p. 329)

Another stake raised is in the setting. Cabeswater has disappeared. Though it isn’t entirely gone, so now the Raven boys along with Blue/Jane need to figure out what’s happening. This is one of those pieces that after the reveal, it makes the reader say – of course, I should have seen it coming. I’m not revealing the answer because Stiefvater crafts it so well, it’s best to see it come out through the novel.

“They hadn’t made a wrong turn. They hadn’t overshot the road or parked in the wrong place. This was where they’d found Cabeswater. This was where it had all begun.
Noah finally said it: ‘It’s gone.'” (p. 119)

“Ronan had been listening, because he spun and leaned in the window. ‘At the store, when he disappeared, he didn’t just become invisible. He went away. If you’re saying Cabeswater’s like Noah, it’s not invisible. It’s gone somewhere.'” (p. 123)

Gansey is still a central figure, but Ronan moves to the front. We discover he hadn’t really tried to kill himself in the past – even though he allowed Gansey to believe the lie. He has a unique gift, just like his father. However, his gift intrinsically has an element intent on his death. The Ronan brothers fighting reaches a new pitch, but we also get to see the loyalty between (some) of the brothers. They have a complicated relationship.

“Ronan rested his forehead on the topmost shelf. The metal edge snarled against his skull, but he didn’t move. At night, the longing for home was ceaseless and omniscient, an airborne contaminant.” (p. 71)

His desire for home gets wrapped up in his relationship with his brothers, though mostly Declan. Matthew, on the other hand, is the happy go lucky brother that everyone loved. Ronan’s relationship with his youngest brother is completely different than Declan.

“Matthew believed him, why shouldn’t he? Ronan had never lied. (p.426)

If those tidbits aren’t enough to get you reading this series, I’m shocked. There are also moments that made me laugh, like when Gansey is discussing pigeons with his contact in England. It’s a complex world and fascinating. Definitely a book I recommend.

The intended audience is an older YA group – the book curses, including being peppered with f-bombs. Two boys also insult each other with epithets surrounding gays – certainly not PC, but realistic.

5 out of 5 stars

5 star

  • Michelle

If you like this one try:

The Gray Wolf Throne – Seven Realms series by Cinda Williams Chima

Incarceron by Catherine Fisher

Unwind by Neal Shusterman

Fire and Hemlock by Diana Wynne Jones

And for an adult fantasy recommendation:

Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern


About Tales Untangled

I am a mother of four children and have a passion for reading. I love sharing my treasury of books with my kids. I also do experiments in cooking which includes such things as Indian Tandoori Chicken slow-cooked in a tagine. I write stories and illustrate in ink.
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