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.
An Enchantment of RavensFeatured
What I Loved:
I love reading YA books with fae characters, I've been a fan since I was a child, so reading An Enchantment of Ravens felt like coming home by visiting Whimsy and trailing through the spring, summer, and autumn courts! Everything is surreal and beautiful on the surface, but with many dangers lurking underneath all the glamour. I was deeply entranced by every place the characters set foot, silently mourning my inability to visit. The fae world is always intriguing to explore and Margaret Rogerson did it justice!
My most favorite thing about this book is the portrayal of the fae. There's a certain ring of truth behind the idea of the fair folk looking aged and rotten underneath the glamour that makes them look like otherworldly beautiful beings. When they die, they cease to exist as living creatures and instead go back to being part of the earth, so why shouldn't they look like it when alive without their magic to hide their true selves? Loved this aspect so much!
It's also super interesting how humans are not THAT disadvantaged when it comes to the fae. Some humans, like Isobel, have a special skill called Craft that can be for any artistic thing like cooking, painting, or writing. Fairies cannot do human craft, it is deadly to them, so they have to rely heavily on humans to acquire these goods and in exchange, they grant enchantments. However, these enchantments can go wrong and humans still have to be careful around the fae when not pleased, or else they find themselves on the end of a bad bargain. In Isobel's case, when she mistakenly paints sorrow into the autumn prince's eyes -- showing a weakness in front of those who already question his rule -- she is forced to follow the autumn prince straight into fae territory.
My goodness, I dare you to not to fall for the autumn prince. It's impossible and I need one just like Rook! A fae prince who has human emotions (when they shouldn't) and is not afraid to fight for love? All. The. Swoons. Such a fun, sassy character to meet! And he has the ability to shape-shift, with a preference for raven form. His company is precious and the banter he has with our heroine is simply gold.
Isobel is of course a great character to be around with. So talented and quick-witted when facing dire situations. What I liked most about her was her fight to control her human emotions and to think things through, but also not being afraid to be human. Her love for her aunt and goat-sisters (yup, it's true) comes first and it shows in her actions.
What Left Me Wanting More:
This is a GREAT read, but I must admit that I was expecting a far more complicated journey through the fairy courts and a lot more emotional punch/sacrifice. Half-way through the book I came to realize that the book had abandoned its original course of action and the characters set off to another course which was unsettling and left me a bit disappointed. I wanted to explore more! However, this is a standalone fantasy so I understand why it didn't go deeper story-wise. I so wish it did though!
Not only does An Enchantment of Ravens have a beautiful cover, but it's also lovely inside. With bright writing and a different take on fair folk lore, readers will end up wanting more of this world!
Things begin to change when the autumn court prince, Rook, comes to Isobel for his portrait. As they spend time together, Isobel begins to fall in love with him. Seeing sadness in his eyes, she paints them as she observes them. However, this is viewed as a weakness which makes him vulnerable among the fair folk. After the portrait was sent, Rook returns to bring Isobel to trial for the crime of painting human sadness in his eyes- the penalty of which is likely death. On their path to his court for trial, they begin to learn more about each other and Rook finds himself unable to bring her to trial. They concoct a ruse and travel to the spring court where Isobel begins to paint the fair folk with human emotions (and this has power to give them some semblance of emotions as mentioned in the synopsis).
The Good Law prevents fair folk and humans from being in love, and as Isobel and Rook come to terms with their emotions, they face the penalty of death. Overall, I really enjoyed this book and the pace was great. I felt that their relationship was a little superficial in that we don't see much of the depth to their interactions until later in the book and I would have liked to see their romance building a bit more. The writing was really superb, and it flowed beautifully. The descriptions were really fantastic and brought you into the story. The fair folk really balanced the line between creepy and fascinating (as per design I think). This was a tough book to put down.
I think this will be a huge hit with fans of Maas's Court series! It's a great YA fantasy and forbidden romance that works perfectly as a stand alone.
So, I continually keep seeing comparisons to ACOTAR which is crazy to me. They are nothing alike. Sarah J. Maas writes neo-pagan high fae "elf" fantasy with contemporary romantic lyrical writing and dialogue. While ACOTAR is fae fiction, it's not necessarily a fairy tale as it lacks myth origins. Rather, it's high fantasy. Margaret Rogerson wrote a fairy tale and kept to the original folklore of the "fair ones" who are made from earth, and embody life and death. While humanoid in glamour, they are actually monsters ... just like the tales of old. And, like a fairy tale, the focus is not on a "changing character" but on the "adventure" and "moral lesson." Think back on fairy tales you've read. Character arcs are not complex, right? Right. Rogerson's writing is classical in nature, too, reminiscent of the Age of Manners with story touches of Alice in Wonderland woven in for an extra layer of disturbia. And, yes, there is insta-love in AEoR, but that is the fairy tale way of romance.
ACOTAR - high fantasy, modern romance language
AEoR - fairy tale, classical romance writing
Now for the similarities: both Feyre and Isobel are painters and curse breakers. While they share this similarity in idea only, it's just that ... in idea only. Isobel's entire livelihood comes from painting portraits for the fair ones. And it's her paintings that both ruin and save her life, as well as ruin and save the lives of the fair ones. Feyre and Isobel both break a curse, but most fantasy and fairy tale stories contain this trope. It doesn't make them the same. The curse Isobel breaks is nothing like Feyre's hero moment.
If you've been hesitant to give this book a try because of the reviews, I encourage you to give it a whirl. Just remember to have "fairy tale" reader expectations, not ACOTAR ones.
LOVED this book. One of my favorites reads in 2017.