Right off the bat, here is a Beth's World PSA.
There will be a controlled burn of fangirling in this review. I was aiming for low key reverence but the Force is strong with Padawan Maggie. Hopefully this is more of a tame, reflective piece of quiet admiration. SO, if a bibliophile with big heart eyes, fervently in love with a book, an author or a fictional world isn't for you then stop right here and move on to the next review. I hope that doesn't come off as rude... I mean that in the nicest way possible BUT if you think I'm a shameless zealot now, you should see all the goopy lovey bits I omitted. Okay? Are we good? I'm glad you stayed... let's move on BUT you've been warned!
End aggressive announcement!!
Now, if Freaking Awesome Badassery had a nom de plume its would be Maggie Stiefvater. She has a way of leading you down the rabbit hole with a tempting trail of well placed, prickly yet succulent literary breadcrumbs. Then when she has you firmly in her grasp... enticed and ensnared...BAM... you're bludgeoned over the head with verbal magnificence and dazzled with Lynch brothers and Apocalypse fearing Dreamer hunters and psychics and more. Then you realize you're not alone, you're now one of us.
:::chant::: one of us... one of us.
BUT do not fret, there are many wonderful things here like Nuance. There are onion-like layers of intricacies within this pièce de résistance... mottled subplots within plots that'll have you scratching your head and wondering what in your life has brought you here and where in the hell is this story going? There are characters that are multifaceted hues of Gray, just the way I like them. They are so deliciously complex you won't be certain which side of them will show up to any given scenario, keeping you on your toes. There are doppelgangers, secret societies, magical markets & artifacts. Most of the time I was wondering where in God's green Earth were we being led? I laughed. I cursed aloud "Holy Hell in a Handbasket" (PG version). I wondered how one person can imagine all the slip-n-slidey, turny twisty bits (plus freaky horror dreams), BUT there are most certainly twisty bits aplenty! Plot twists worthy of M. Knight Shyamalan's respect.
true fact: in my house he is known, affectionately, as M. Knight Shama- lama-ding-dong. He was dubbed this by my daughter who has yet to watch any of his movies BUT after eavesdropping on the adults one night (and because she thinks everything that comes to her mind and out of her mouth is automatically gold... which, in this case it was)... she blessed us with her 2 cents ... here it was born, here it stuck, and here it shall stay... but I digress.
There were other types of depth to the book as well. There was suspense, and intrigue and a plethora of confusion (in a good way). You'll be kept guessing the entire read (on multiple fronts) and for the most part, things will begin to click but don't expect to fully know what's going on and where things are headed. With one question answered, 2 more pop up.
Speaking of dark brooding enigmas... you were thinking about him right? Am I right?? Do you love Ronan as much as I do? Silly question, how could you not? But just when you think you couldn't love Ronan any more, Call Down the Hawk has come along to correct your folly. I found myself following the subtle trails of this complex plot and they led straight to my smitten heart AND do you know what I found there hermetically sealed and stuck with an impervious layer of sticky stuff (that's definitely the technical term)? I found Ronan Lynch (and Adam of course but this book didn't really feature him much) Gorilla Glued with glittery embellishments and bells and ribbons... Ronan would absolutely detest it YET there it was... and there he was... and there they all were (both old friends and new ones) and there they all shall live for forever and a day in a big heaping mess of veneration.
Remember that humor I spoke about earlier? Well, it was subtle and it elicited pure expressions of joy from me. It was the type of humor that crescendos from quiet appreciation ---> school girl giggles ---> laughing so loud even a train full of jaded NYers stop their busy, mind your own business mottoed, lives to look over at me with unbridled curiosity... hoping to find something funny enough to bring a little joy, a little mirth to brighten up their robotic 9-5 lives.... praying that the bubble of happiness I now radiate... personify... exude, will at least expand to incorporate them and at best grow to include the whole damn cynical World.
Sorry for the extreme runon. When Life happens, it often happens in long drawn out runons and I just report what I see BUT, I also digress... again.
Anyway, back to the goods...
One of the best parts of the book was that we also got to be better acquainted with the Lynch Brothers Trio and man-oh-man let me tell you just how broken, resilient, beautific, humanly flawed and how perfectly imperfect they all were. There's a Lynch brother flavor for every type of reader and one for any bipolar mood swing you might have and one for the most eclectic of admirers. Our foray into the lives of the Lynch brothers 3 was so much better than in the Raven Cycle that I even found myself commiserating with/swooning over Declan ... D-Bag... Mr. Boring... Zippy Shoes or whatever name you assign him (I vote for Zippy Shoes). Each brother believed himself to be the "fake" brother... the fuckup... the black hole, deep dark void, infinitly blackest of black sheep of the family. Who's right? Who will be the Lynch family's downfall? Who will survive and come out the other end still intact and emotionally unscathed? Will any? All? None? Can anyone truly claim to be able to accomplish that feat as they traverse Life in all of its fickle glory? Who knows? I have my theories although with THAT ending no one besides Mrs. Maggie can say for certain and she's not telling... for now.
You know what IS telling? I preordered this a la Amazon Kindle (not a paid for endorsement) and after gobbling it up in record time in print... errrr digital, I still bought the Audiobook from Audible (also not a paid endorsement) as well. It was SO worth having both forms because narrating it in your own head using your own cadence, tempo and tone is a vastly different experience than listening to another person's perspective, their inflections, their rendition of how each character, piece of dialogue and the overall essence of the book should be portrayed. It feels like you're experiencing a whole new book that feels familiar but doesn't convey as such.
What it all boiled down to was this, Call Down the Hawk's accolades are 100% deserved in any format. I loved Maggie Steifvater before this gem and I'm relieved to report that she has most assuredly not disappointed this time around!! Although it's apparent that I'm a bit biased, I admit that I'd pay to read her take on anything (even a farmer's almanac), especially if it's set in this World with these Characters with this gorgeously creative, poignant writing and honey sweet narration.
Now, who exactly is this Will Patton guy you might ask? I'm so glad you did! He is the same voice that gave life to the Raven Cycle series and if you know even a little bit about me you'll know how I fawn over and covet all things Raven Cycle especially its characters. Gansey, Blue, Adam, Ronan et al are family now... no, better than that they are indelibly etched into my soul (cue dramatic music) and it's partially due to Patton's performances. He was born to embody these books! His voice is haunting and lilting. It can be crooning, comforting and capricious as hell. Just when you are one with the ebb and flow... WHAM... it's now all sorts of razor sharp edges and gravel on fire.
You might be wondering if it is necessary to read The Raven Cycle series beforehand. Personally, if you started here, I feel it would keep you from picking up on some subtle nuances and semi-critical background info BUT it is not imperative. Mrs. Stiefvater gives just enough backstory to keep you from needing a rescue party. For me, I believe that having prior insight into this universe helped make things more tangible, relatable and definitely more enjoyable. So take that as you may.
And that ending... it has an ending (duh) but you know the sort... the kind that ramps up the cardiac BPM... offers the promise of answers and peace of mind but delivers emotional scars and (forgivable) disappointment. I loved it but I want, I crave, I NEED answers... STAT!!
This was an extremely addictive timesuck (in the best possible way). With highest marks for Mrs. Stiefvater for acing the Trifecta of Awesomeness (Writing Quality + Character Development + World Building). My only gripe was with the ending. The last few pages felt more like a sheer drop off a steep cliff instead of a drawn out, suspense laden Cliffhanger. I'm not a huge fan of even the tamest of Cliffys but thankfully this one wasn't torturous. The rest made me want to climb the tallest NYC fire escape and scream my ardent adoration at the top of my lungs (into the smoggy night) until my breath gave out, my throat dried up and the neighbors started yelling out of their windows... a la West Side Story style... for me to "Shut the hell up already"... ahhhh, now that's the good stuff right there. If a book leaves you breathless, hoarse and recieving police citations for noise pollution and disturbing the peace, then it's a keeper... AND this one's undeniably a keeper... grab one asap! I can't wait to see... hear... read what you think.
I wholeheartedly apologize for the brain farting mental tangents. Both the hard copy and Audiobook held me completely captive the entire time so please don't take my squirreling mind as an indication of a sloppy, wandering narrative because it's probably just my age showing or the beginnings of insanity... oh well... both sound fatal but neither are Mrs. Stiefvater's fault.