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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.
ARC received for review purposes in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
An Enchantment of Ravens is a stunning debut novel that will lure readers in with the gorgeous prose, and keep them glued to the pages of the book with its vibrant characters. It might be Margaret Rogerson’s debut novel, but she pens An Enchantment of Ravens like a pro and will leave you in awe. This is a YA fantasy novel that will stick with me for a long time.
The book shines for its unique take on magic. In Rogerson’s world, humans have the ability to Craft, basically they all have a talent that the Fair Folk are able to purchase. It was refreshing to see this different sort of power dynamics. Margaret Rogerson takes common themes and elements from fae mythology and puts her own twist on them. The magical world was beautifully and subtly built throughout An Enchantment of Ravens, and most importantly, it was easy to envision. Rogerson’s writing is lush, gorgeous, and vivid, especially when it comes to the protagonist, Isobel’s artistic skills. This is the perfect sort of prose for a book like this – it’s poetic, but does not rely on anything that’s overly flowery.
The book stands out for its cast of characters. The story opens up with Isobel learning that the Autumn Prince will be visiting her to commission a portrait of him. But Isobel makes a life-endangering mistake when she winds up painting him with sorrow in his eyes, something that could strip him off of his powerful status. Isobel is the perfect sort of character for a book like An Enchantment of Ravens. She exhibits selflessness, bravery, and intelligence throughout the book. She is also a character who thinks before she speaks or makes any decision. Her love for her eclectic family – her sisters started life as goats and are a fun, troublesome pair – and her utmost passion for her art shine through the pages of the book.
Of course, I’m sure you’re all dying to know more about this Autumn Prince who punishes Isobel by whisking her away to the autumnlands to make her face a trial. From the very first meeting of Rook in Isobel’s studio, I was enchanted by his character. He is initially quiet and very restrained with his emotions, and as the story progresses, you see more of a cocky, but endearing side to his character. While the fact that he kidnaps Isobel might be frustrating for readers at first, it’s important to know that he treats her with respect and is never cruel to her. It might take some time to warm up to his characters, but by the end, he will have wooed you over. His backstory comes to the surface, and you begin to really care for him.
The romance between Rook and Isobel that builds throughout An Enchantment of Ravens isn’t one that’s in your face. Instead, it’s a little slow, and a lot subtle, and it works perfectly here. It’s sweet, and endearing, and will occasionally have you swooning. Perhaps the best part of their relationship is the absolute trust they forge between each other, making it a romance that’s healthy, despite the initial circumstances, and realistic. I would personally have liked a bit more time to have passed before they declared their love for each other, but that’s a personal preference and I don’t see other readers taking issue with it. This book isn’t just a romance. At the center of the book are the fae politics, and the Wild Hunt in particular plays a pivotal role. The plot is adventurous, strife with dangers, and fast-paced. There’s no way you will not be entertained throughout the story.
With this book, Margaret Rogerson has turned me into a fan of her books. Everything about An Enchantment of Ravens is a delight. The original take on faes, the well-developed characters, the surprising humor, and the slow-burn romance are a treat for fans of YA fantasy. Oh and best of all? It’s a standalone that wraps up brilliantly! Tell me you can resist that?