Book Review: “Call Down the Hawk” by Maggie Stiefvater

Christmas may still be two weeks away, but for many readers, the most exciting part of the season has already come with the release of Maggie Stiefvater’s Call Down the Hawk, the first book in her new trilogy featuring several of the characters from The Raven Cycle.

It’s been three years since The Raven King came out, and fans have been clamoring for more about Gansey, Blue, Ronan, and Adam probably since before that. Luckily for them, Stiefvater is happy to oblige. Call Down the Hawk is centrally focused on Ronan and his brothers, Declan and Matthew, as well as some characters who are totally new. Gansey and Blue, away on a road trip, are all but absent from the narrative, while Adam has recently started his freshman year at Harvard (but never fear: he and Ronan are making it work).

With Aglionby behind him and his friends dispersed, Ronan has to figure out where he fits in in the world, a task that requires learning more about his power as a Dreamer and that power’s limits. Lately, a presence known as Bryde has been lurking in his dreams, urging Ronan to uncover his true potential. Unknown to Ronan (but not the reader), there is also an organization tracking and eliminating Dreamers in an attempt to prevent the end of the world. A lot of the narrative is spent tracing this organization’s motives and operations, and it’s clear that their machinations will be key to the second two books in the series.

A new character I really enjoyed is Jordan Hennessy, an art forger and badass to rival Ronan himself. (If Stiefvater has a type she loves to write, it’s talented, messed-up, angry young people with hearts of gold. Thankfully, we also love to read them.) Jordan’s arc is one of the fun surprises the novel has in store, so I won’t say more about her here. In terms of other exciting character development, fans of The Raven Cycle may be surprised to find themselves rooting for Declan Lynch, Ronan’s older brother, in Call Down the Hawk. His backstory is considerably deepened, and readers are reminded that he is, in fact, Niall Lynch’s son.

For the most part, I really enjoyed this book! It’s great to revisit beloved characters, and the new narrative threads Stiefvater establishes are vibrant and imaginative (and so cool). I did find the prose a bit overwrought in places, but I was having too much fun to notice much. I will say that if you’re squeamish, beware: there is a lot of collateral damage in this story. (In fact, in some parts it read more like a horror novel than a fantasy.) I don’t think Raven Cycle fans will be disappointed, and new readers will find a lot to love here too.

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher, Scholastic, for review.