Review: The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater


August 20, 2013 by Heidi

The Dream Thieves by Maggie StiefvaterTitle: The Dream Thieves [Goodreads]
Author: Maggie Stiefvater [Website|Twitter|Facebook]
Standing:  Book two in The Raven Cycle
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Published: September 17th, 2013 by Scholastic Press
Format: Hardcover; 416 pages.
Source: ARC from publisher via BEA.
Spoilers!: This review and book contain spoilers for book one in The Raven Cycle, The Raven Boysso go read that first!

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…

When I closed the pages of Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven Boys, I felt a bit lost and bereft.  There was just something about it for me that lacked that ineffable quality that causes me to fall for a book heart, mind, and soul.  I felt cheated after the hype, and so anxiously worried over where Stiefvater was planning to take us in book two.  Thankfully, due to the need to pass along my copy of The Dream Thieves to the many friends who were clamoring for it, I didn’t have time to over-think things going into book two.  I don’t know if it was the complete lack of hype (I read The Dream Thieves immediately after BEA in June and before I’d read anyone else’s thoughts), the change of focus, or if something about Maggie’s spellbinding writing that cast a net over my heart, but I loved The Dream Thieves unequivocally.

The Dream Thieves strikes off with a fairy tale lilt, a tone which Stiefvater holds throughout wherein she is magically able to say the most mundane things as if they are momentous, and momentous things as if they are an everyday occurrence.  She throws away phrases that lesser authors couldn’t pen on their best days, and it is stunning.  Her use of third person to shift between perspectives makes a much more seamless transition than it would were each told in first person, providing our story with an overarching tone while still managing to connect us deeply to the characters therein.  I felt that here, in these pages, was the resurgence of the author from The Scorpio Races that I had so longed to see in The Raven Boys.  With a focus shift to different characters in our story, suddenly their very quiet and observant nature spoke volumes.

As one may presume from the title and the figure on the gorgeous cover, The Dream Thieves focuses on Ronan in the same way The Raven Boys focused on Adam.  Yes, we get multiple perspectives–those of Adam, Blue, Gansey, and our new villain, but it is Ronan who dominates our minds.  Ronan, who needs no proof of the impossible, Ronan who recognizes the sharp lines of other people and the fracture marks they exhibit when near to breaking, Ronan who can pull things from his dreams.  To me, the plot of The Dream Thieves was significantly more captivating than the search for Glendower had been.  Here we shift away from Gansey’s quest to something darker, but undoubtedly tied to Cabeswater and the ley line that Adam has brought to life with his sacrifice.  Glendower remains very much on the minds of our intrepid youth, but the quest has taken a back seat for more immediate concerns.

Stiefvater also very cleverly shifted my anxieties away from Adam by making his perspective one of the more minor aspects of The Dream Thieves.  My intense fears about him and Blue and Gansey were assuaged by virtue of witnessing the coming events from three alternating angles rather than focusing on his.  She somehow manages to maintain our feelings for these characters, but change our sympathies in the details.  Maggie takes advantage of the circular nature of time and the linear nature of memories, using them to draw us in and manipulate us in a manner we are wholly aware of, but do not mind.

Aside from the shift of focus from Glendower to the dreaming, The Dream Thieves also presents us with a new villain.  The Gray Man waltzes onto the scene with this mundane gravitas and mysterious veil, and we’re dropped all of these random facts that tell us nothing other than that this being we want to believe is not human can be humanized.  He has straight teeth, he hates compact cars, his father taught him to pronounce trebuchet.  With The Raven Boys I slogged through the villain’s chapters, only waiting to get back to my boys and Blue, in The Dream Thieves my heart thrilled each time I turned to a chapter from The Gray Man.  Not only is he a sympathetic villain, he is a fascinating one–one that interacts with our cast with a blatant ease and feels a part of the family he is perhaps going to destroy.  I adore him.

“Hello,” he said cordially.  “I didn’t mean to interrupt.”

First of all, the way he phrased it meant that he could see Noah, which not everyone could.  Second of all, he was polite in a way that was unlike anything Blue had encountered before.  Gansey was polite in a way that squashed the other party smaller.  Adam was polite to reassure.  And this man was polite in a keen, questioning sort of way.  He was polite like tentacles were polite, testing the surface carefully, checking to see how it reacted to his presence.

He was, Blue decided suddenly, very clever.  Nothing to be trifled with.

In short, I am unable to find all of the proper words needed to express my love of book two of The Raven Cylcle.  I am stunned that a series that got off on such a mediocre foot for me is now among my absolute favorite reads of the year.  If you, like me, were disappointed in The Raven Boys, don’t let it hold you back.  Here there was less of a focus on economic means–though of course they are there, we cannot discount them– and more of a focus on the value of loved ones.  There is a value placed on brotherhood, both frightening and dear.  The shifting in feelings are so gradual and real they cannot help but be understood, Maggie Stiefvater has a keen mind for the complexities of human nature.  The Dream Thieves wraps itself in Ronan’s darkness and revels there, letting us glimpse just how much restraint he has.  The Dream Thieves is one of those rare works of which I have no points to contend and nothing to complain about–it was frustratingly perfect, and I couldn’t ask for more.

Likelihood that I’ll be back for more:  Good God, yes!  If I had reservations about this series after The Raven Boys, they’ve all but dissipated into nothingness.  Book 1 was largely Adam, Book 2 was largely Ronan, so guessing Book 3 will be largely Gansey?

Recommended for:  Readers who enjoyed Libba Bray’s The Diviners, Sarah Rees Brennan’s Unspokenor Holly Black’s Curse Workers series.  Basically anyone who enjoys expert world-building, amazing characters, and beautiful writing.

Real life repercussions of reading this book: I do believe some of my theories about this series are panning out!  This is a series that needs to be discussed in detail, if/once you’ve read it, please give me a shout out, I’d love to chat about it.

I’ve also reviewed:
The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater
The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater (The Raven Cycle 1)


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  1. Goodness, this review is just BEAUTIFUL, Heidi! It’s bursting with your passion for this book and I love that! I can’t wait to get my hands on it, mostly because I’m dying to know more about Ronan and his dreaming. I also love that the villain is very much a part of this story and the multiple focuses on all the characters seems to work so well with this one. I’m re-reading the Raven Boys in preparation of this – because that book just had so much I’m sure I forgot – so I can’t wait to read this when it releases. Lovely review, dearest! (I think this is my favorite of yours!) <3

  2. Wonderful review, Heidi! It’s so much more eloquent than mine haha — I ran a bit more fangirl on it but the sentiment is the same! Maggie’s writing is amazing — Both in style and in content. I was so much more captivated by the dreaming and the content of TDT than TBR (Glendower. Kind of a snooze) and YES. The Gray Man. That was just so incredibly interesting!

  3. Sarah says:

    I adored this too! I’m not a big third person narration fan, but the consistent fairy tale-style of Maggie’s writing in this series just works for me–it never feels distant, which is such a surprise. Your lovely review just nails why this series is so special!

  4. I loved The Raven Boys, and now I’m looking forward even more to The Dream Thieves. That is a great paragraph to show The Gray Man and Blue’s reaction to him. Wow. Can’t wait.

  5. I had so much fun discussing this book with you! But for some reason I’m having a terrible time organizing my thoughts into a coherent review. Must do that soon! Although I really like your insight about the lessening of Adam’s voice in this book, I would actually consider him the second highlight of this book after Ronan. Or at least, I went into this novel not knowing the direction his character would take, or really what was happening with him, and I left it feeling far more enlightened and settled. As I believe he did too.

    Love what you said here about the focus being on the value of loved ones over economics, I think that’s a very true assessment of this story. Especially as it relates to the romance. Really curious who the focus of 3 will be! If Gansey, I wonder in what context?

  6. Holly says:

    Yeeeeesssss!! The Gray Man! I love him so much. He stole the show IMO, but Ronan is fascinating too. I was texting Sandy the other day (who’s midway through this) and told her to JUST WAIT. It gets SOOO good.

    And FYI, this review is a wonder to read. I am IN AWE of the thoughtful and articulate writing therein. I don’t think that I can write my review now.

  7. VeganYANerds says:

    Just reading your intro made me think of that day at BEA!! :)

    I am SO glad you liked this, I have been putting it off but I am planning on starting it soon!

  8. kathy says:

    This is such an articulate review! I enjoyed TDT, too, but it took me weeks to try to put something coherent together about it. :) I feel like there needs to be a support group for everyone who’s read this already. Because, oh my goodness, there is so much to discuss.
    I think it’s interesting you felt like the first book was mostly about Adam. It felt more Gansey and Blue-focused to me. I thought maybe the third would focus on Blue & Gansey again, and the final one more Adam and Ronan. I guess we’ll see. But either way I suspect there will be much more from The Gray Man. :)

  9. God, what a gorgeous review, Heidi! So eloquent. I think this series is turning out to be simply EPIC in scope (I know our group email discussions certainly bordered on epic proportions) and I loved your insight and theories. Like you I adored this book–loved Mr. Gray, loved that it was Ronan’s story, loved that the focus shifted to Ronan’s abilities rather than the search for Glendower, and love that my feelings about Gansey are growing and changing as well. It really boggles my mind at how well Stiefvater is weaving this intricate, complex web of a story–and like you I’m beyond HOOKED.

  10. […] Heidi @ Bunbury in the Stacks: “The Dream Thieves is one of those rare works of which I have no points to contend and nothing… […]

  11. […] (brief) review of The Raven Boys All of my Maggie Stiefvater reviews Other Dream Thieves reviews: Bunbury in the Stacks; […]

  12. Though I loved Raven Boys, I can see your point. It felt very much like part one of a larger story. But Dream Thieves just blew me away. It raised new questions and introduced new characters while still continuing the story from the first book.
    I love this review — and Heather sent me the ginormous email chain, so I also loved reading everyone’s theories and adding my own :)

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While the source for each book I review is posted within its review, please assume unless otherwise stated that books reviewed on Bunbury in the Stacks were received free from the author or publisher in exchange for an honest review.