An Enchantment of Ravens, by Margaret Rogerson
Publish Date: September 26, 2017
Published by: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Genre: YA Fantasy
My Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3 out of 5 stars)
**I received this as an ARC from the publisher at BookCon2017 in return for an honest review.**
Isobel is a prodigy portrait artist with a dangerous set of clients: the sinister fair folk, immortal creatures who cannot bake bread, weave cloth, or put a pen to paper without crumbling to dust. They crave human Craft with a terrible thirst, and Isobel’s paintings are highly prized among them. But when she receives her first royal patron—Rook, the autumn prince—she makes a terrible mistake. She paints mortal sorrow in his eyes – a weakness that could cost him his life.
Furious and devastated, Rook spirits her away to the autumnlands to stand trial for her crime. Waylaid by the Wild Hunt’s ghostly hounds, the tainted influence of the Alder King, and hideous monsters risen from barrow mounds, Isobel and Rook depend on one another for survival. Their alliance blossoms into trust, then love, violating the fair folks’ ruthless Good Law. There’s only one way to save both their lives, Isobel must drink from the Green Well, whose water will transform her into a fair one—at the cost of her Craft, for immortality is as stagnant as it is timeless.
Isobel has a choice: she can sacrifice her art for a future, or arm herself with paint and canvas against the ancient power of the fairy courts. Because secretly, her Craft represents a threat the fair folk have never faced in all the millennia of their unchanging lives: for the first time, her portraits have the power to make them feel.
To be honest, I wasn’t even mildly interested in this book when I first came across it. A painter who suddenly finds herself among fairies? Wait, didn’t I already read that? (A Court of Thorns and Roses). Well, after seeing so much hype about it (and having the ARC was a nice little incentive), I decided to give it a go. It is certainly different from ACOTAR, with a much different feel to it, and definitely feels unique when it comes to books about the fair folk.
To begin with, I think the world building was beautiful. I was immediately enamored with the town of Whimsy, and how the enchantments from the fair folk played into the daily lives of the people who lived there. In fact, I almost wish there were more scenes within the town of Whimsy itself so that I could see more of the life there. It was especially wonderful to read about how important art is, known as Craft, because the fair folk cannot do it themselves but crave it madly. This placed artists at such a level of high esteem in the world, and was a nice way to see people with talent like myself being shown in a different light than in other novels where art plays an important role. It made for interesting characters, such as Isobel, who is so confident in her skill, she is a little cocky about it and her “fame”, and honestly I rather liked her for it. She knows who she is, she knows what her talent is, and she isn’t afraid to own up to it.
The plot itself moved at an excellent pace, with wonderful descriptions and lots of magic and intrigue. Everything flowed smoothly and easily, although I did feel that there were a few hiccups here and there, but not enough to make a significant impact on the overall plot. I think my biggest issue was the relationship between Rook and Isobel itself – it felt rushed. Where the plot’s movement felt like it was at a good pace, the relationship just kind of, jumped ahead of itself. There is an entire month that “flies by” after Isobel starts painting Rook, and while there seems to be some attraction between them at this point, that’s all it is – attraction. They barely talk to each other during the painting session. Then he comes back after seeing the final portrait and spends about a day or two forcing her through the woods, acting all angry and rude, and then after she saves his life decides to be nice and is suddenly in love with her. I don’t know, it all just felt rushed to me. I’m not a big fan of the insta-love stories, and while this technically isn’t one, it sure felt like it. I would have preferred some more build-up, some more of them actually getting to know one another. But that just might be me.
Almost all of the characters were wonderful and had a lot of depth. Isobel was strong, full of life, kind of spunky, and definitely a great protagonist. I loved how she felt about the idea of immortality, and her love for her aunt and adopted sisters. The side characters all had lots of interesting parts to them that made them so much more than just fair folk or side characters, really bringing the cast to life. The only one I wasn’t too keen on was Rook, and not because he was flat or anything, just that I felt like I’ve seen his character-type multiple times already in other YA novels. Quiet, a little broody, has a painful memory, and when he emotes, he is downright passionate and deep about it.
Overall, it was definitely a good read, with wonderful world-building and a plot that moves swiftly but without losing too much. My only issues were with the romance between Isobel and Rook, which I personally felt moved too quickly, and that I honestly wasn’t completely enthralled by the book as a whole – I just think I am not as interested in stories about the fair folk as I thought I was. I will also say it’s difficult to tell if this is supposed to be a solo book or not, because while the ending kind of feels like it wrapped itself up nicely, there were also some things that definitely left me feeling like there is potential for more. Questions left unanswered, possibilities yet unwritten…we’ll just have to see.
EDIT: I decided to give this a 3 stars instead. Everything I said before remains the same, but I just don’t feel enthusiastic about this book as much to really think it deserves a full 4 stars.