After The Dream Thieves —book two of the Raven Cycle (there are four total) — events have grown even harder to summarize for the casual listener. Theoretically, the series is still about a bunch of schoolboys (Gansey, Adam, Noah, and Ronan) and one non-psychic daughter of a psychic (Blue) questing for a long-lost Welsh king in the mountains of Virginia. Practically, we took a detour in book two for some street racing and identity exploration. There were hitmen, near kisses, occult rituals, and a fiery death, but we finally veered sharply back toward the Glendower quest at the every end of the book, when Blue’s mother vanished, leaving behind only a cryptic note that reads: “Glendower’s underground. So am I.”
Things you should remember: Gansey’s death was foretold at the beginning of the series: it’s supposed to go down in less than a year. Blue knows. Adam knows. Ronan doesn’t.
Also remember: Blue has her own prophecy that if she kisses her true love, he’ll die.
Also, also remember: Ronan can take things out of his dreams. Adam has made a bargain with Cabeswater, a magical forest, agreeing to be its hands and eyes. Noah is dead and getting deader all the time. Blue’s mother (Maura) is a psychic, along with her best friends Calla and Persephone.
what went down
- We begin with a psychic-cam. Persephone, an airy fairy psychic, tries to guide Adam into being similarly airy-fairy about communicating with the ley line. During this lesson they uncover the understanding that there are three supernatural sleepers on the ley line near them. One, Persephone decides, should definitely not be woken.
- Meanwhile, Calla is having a psychic moment of her own, enhanced by Blue. When trying to make contact with Maura, she instead makes contact with . . . something else, which chants a little ditty in her ear. “Queens and kings, kings and queens, blue lily, lily blue—” “Gosh,” interrupts the reader. “Is that the title?”
- Maura, the final psychic-cam, spends this entire time wandering in a cavern in an undisclosed location, searching for Blue’s long-lost biological father, Artemus. She doesn’t find him, but she finds a creepy mirrored lake.
- The teens go spelunking in Cabeswater to look for both Maura and Glendower. Do they find them? No. Here’s what they find: Gansey falling into a hole and having a panic attack. As Blue talks him down, ravens burst out of the hole around him, calling Make Way for the Raven King! in dubious Latin.
- Post-spelunking, the teens head into a different sort of dark hole: Washington D.C.! Gansey’s ancient professor friend Malory is coming into town to explore the ley line with them and they’re fetching him from the airport.
- Probably I should mention that Gansey touches Blue’s fingers during this car ride and the narrative strongly urges you to consider this sexy, which is a demonstration of how little game any of these characters have. Later, Blue gets even friskier when she secretly calls Gansey so they can talk about Congress and faxes. This is not code. This is their relationship. A little further on, there’s also a sensual yogurt-eating paragraph.
- True love
- With Malory and his service dog, Adam and Gansey explore other entrances to the cave system below the ley line. There is a West Virginia joke in this chapter.
- While the boys are out exploring, Blue is seeing her high school counselor about her college prospects. Does she find prospects? No. What does she find? Noah, sitting under the counselor’s desk. He explodes in a supernatural tantrum when Blue gets upset over her lack of options.
- Noah’s supernatural tantrumming continues back in Monmouth Manufacturing. He gets upset again — this time over his soul decaying (which, fair, I was just doing that last week) — and begins to creepily freak out. Blue pulls the plug on her energy and he diminishes immediately.
- While Blue is contemplating her ability to control her energy sources, a strange man comes for a reading at 300 Fox Way. He’s a villain, because who else comes to 300 Fox Way for on-page readings in this series? “Go to hell,” Calla tells him, which is also how I have ended some of my more memorable tarot readings.
- Speaking of that strange man, the boys discover that they have a new Latin teacher. Who’s this fancy man, Adam wonders as he objectively eyeballs the teacher’s looks and virility. He’s kind of . . . well, fancy. Spoiler! It’s the Gray Man’s boss, Colin Greenmantle, AKA the man who called the hit on Ronan’s dad. Never mind, Adam thinks, what I said about the fancy thing. Loser.
- Colin Greenmantle is in town to punish the Gray Man, who betrayed him in a previous episode. He’s brought his wife, Piper, who is blonde, bored, and ready for some kind of demonic adventure. This chapter has cows in it.
- The boys, Blue, and the ladies of Fox Way brainstorm what to do about Greenmantle in town, but the prognosis doesn’t look good. Greenmantle is not only is good at looking sharp in collared shirt, he’s also talented at making himself hard to kill. Basically he is 2/3rds of the way to Batman, only the final 1/3rd requires ethics taught by a disciplined butler so he’ll never make it all the way.
- Greenmantle is bad, but Gansey’s attention is elsewhere: focused on Noah’s increasingly terrible existence. He tells Adam that when they find Glendower, he wants to use Glendower’s supernatural favor to save Noah. Damn, Adam thinks, I always forget that Gansey is a Dick but not a dick.
- Using the ley line knowledge Malory has accrued, Blue and Gansey head out the next day to find another way into Cabeswater’s cave system. Do they find it? Yes, actually. They also find a guy named Jesse Dittley, who seems to have a curse of his own. He’s got a cave in his backyard that needs to eat a Dittley every so often or the walls of his house start to bleed. There is a cow pasture in this chapter.
- Piper Greenmantle gets a gun held to her head and becomes Personally Involved at this point.
- Not to be outdone by Blue+Gansey in the smooth romance department, Ronan touchingly drops by the auto shop Adam works at, forgetting that he has a night-horror from hell following him. The ensuing freak-out turns into a terse conversation and Ronan skulks off to just leave a gift of dreamed hand lotion in Adam’s car instead. What a player.
- Meanwhile, Blue is trying to think of where she has heard Jesse Dittley’s name before: oh right. The death list, the same one that Gansey is on. Well, shucks. Traumatized by the future before it has even happened, she calls Gansey for a little bit of romantic comfort and they discuss ducks. What a player.
- Murder Squash Song.
- There is a bit where Henry Cheng is introduced and gets a lot of page time as if he might be important in book four and sort of like now, by saying this, I’m further underlining the idea that he might be important in book four. He and Ronan get into a very small tiff that has less to do with plot and more to do with Ronan being a jerk.
- “It was,” Gansey thought, “as if time had carried Ronan a little more swiftly than the rest of them this summer.” That’s what street racing does to you; that, and a higher insurance premium.
- A chapter with cows in it follows. Ronan takes Adam to the Barns, his family home, to casually show him what he’s been working on: trying to dream a chunk of Cabeswater/ dream stuff to reanimate his mother, who is only awake while in Cabeswater because Jesus Christ this is complicated to explain. Ronan also confesses that he dreamed Matthew, his younger brother. Cows, cows, cows.
- All casual.
- Noah’s deader than dead woes increase when he is possessed by a mysterious entity at Jesse Dittley’s house and sings “Blue lily lily blue” at Blue. “Gosh,” interrupts the reader. “Is that the title?”
- Adam tells Blue that he has guessed Gansey is on the death list.
- Blue and Gansey go for a drive and finally they get really intimate: he gives her his coat to wear and teaches her how to drive a manual car. All of this 1950s level sensuality is interrupted by Henry Cheng, who has broken down by the side of the road. It wasn’t like they were going to kiss anyway; they might as well pause to allow Henry to have a small amount of character development that might set up book four.
- The teens go spelunking in Jesse Dittley’s backyard and find a tomb in the cave, which turns out to hold Gwenllian, Glendower’s bastard daughter. She has been not-sleeping in a coffin for a few hundred years and is a little batty and a lot psychic. Persephone welcomes her into 300 Fox Way and Calla tells Adam and Ronan to go get supplies for her.
- “Ronan pointed at the cart. ‘Get in there.’”
- Adam asks Ronan to dream a host of unpleasant artifacts to blackmail Greenmantle into leaving town. Ronan does, but the dream turns into a nightmare, and he dreams a dying copy of himself, an event that strikes them both.
- While Adam is recovering from the nasty shock of the dying forged Ronan, Adam’s father comes to his apartment to generally be unpleasant. Adam drives him away by generally being Cabeswater’s creepy little friend.
- Just as Persephone is trying to help Adam come to his full potential, Gwenllian is, in her sing-song way, trying to show Blue how she is not merely an amplifier for other people’s powers, but rather a sort of witchy mirror with perks of her own. This chapter could be called TRY HARDER, BLUE SARGENT.
- Meanwhile, the Greenmantles are beginning to really muck things up in Henrietta. Piper has gotten bored with waiting for Colin to get revenge and has instead made contact with some sort of sleeping entity beneath the ley line. It doesn’t seem like a good idea for her to pursue it, but she decides to DO IT ANYWAY.
- Adam, whose relationship with Cabeswater has been much improved by Persephone’s tutelage, proves their close tree-bond when a bunch of roof tiles get dropped on him at Aglionby. Cabeswater prevents his death and makes him look 100% creepy in front of his classmates. Gansey is like: BRO. Ronan is like: HOT. Henry is like: CAN I BE IN BOOK 4.
- On the heels of this realization that he holds more power in his relationship with Cabeswater than he thought, Adam heads to the court case against his father. He’s told no one about it because he thinks it’s important to be Super Cool Loner Guy. As he stands there in dread, the doors burst open and what does he find? Gansey and Ronan there to support him emotionally.
- True love
- Now that Adam realizes that he needs his friends even if they are problematic rich boys or magical trees, he asks Blue to go with him to scry for information about Maura’s location, rather than going to scry alone, which is dangerous. He stumbles across a rather scary entity in the dream space, and when Blue and Noah save his life by pulling him out of the scrying space, he tells them that he saw Maura.
how did it end?
After seeing a hint of where Maura is, Adam goes to Persephone for advice on what he has seen. Unbeknownst to him, she is scrying herself — also looking for Maura — and he is only seeing a vision of her. He rushes back to Fox Way in search of her physical body, afraid that the same fate will befall her that nearly befell him, but he’s too late. Persephone has died by letting her soul wander too far away from her body without having anyone there to monitor her. Persephone’s death motivates Gansey to act despite his fear — to tackle that first cave head on despite the panic attack he had there. Before they go, Adam and Ronan present their blackmail materials to Colin Greenmantle. It works. He takes one look at the material and is all: /COLIN OUT. Piper, however, is too invested to give up. With a few hired thugs, she heads back to Jesse Dittley’s cave. She shoots him, leaves Colin, takes the Gray Man hostage, and heads underground in search of the thing she’d made contact with. Blondes have more fun.
The teens, for their part, head back into the first Cabeswater cave and discover a cavern of skeletal animals. Gwenllian informs them it’s a test but gives no other advice. They use their collective powers (Adam as magician, Ronan with a dream object, Blue as amplifier, Gansey with his weird-ass power of intention) to wake the skeletons from the dead, and then Blue and Ronan ride two of the animals through a magical portal to the mirrored lake from the first chapter.
Okay, fine, it sounds a little crazy when you put it that way but look, it’s poignant in the book.
Gansey: BRO. Adam: HOT.
Blue is forced to leave Ronan behind in order to cross the magical lake — her witchy mirror magic makes her immune to its witchy mirror magic — and discovers Maura, Artemus, and a little door oozing malevolence. As Blue attempts to remove her parents from the cave (they are enthralled by a voice whispering from behind the little door), Piper Greenmantle appears along with the Gray Man and a random thug. Shooting happens; the cave collapses. Blue escapes with Maura, Artemus, and the Gray Man. They’re free! One big happy family: mom, biological dad, and killer dad, reunited.
Piper wakes up in the collapse later, badly injured, and finds herself looking at Neeve, a character readers had hoped they’d never see again. Neeve encourages Piper to join her in opening the little door to receive the favor of the third sleeper on the other side of it. Piper does, leaping to make sure she gets there instead of Neeve. The thing on the other side of the door is not human, although the book coyly does not tell you what brand of not-human it is.
Spoiler: it is not a cow.
Piper tells it, “Wake up.”