An Enchantment of Ravens: Review
I was in a bit of a reading slump and knew I wanted to read a light and fun fantasy. An Enchantment of Ravens stared at me from my bookshelf and I knew I had to pick it up. Better yet, this tale of faeries and magic is a standalone novel. If you know me, you know that I typically love standalone novels because once you turn the last page, you are left with a completed story.
A skilled painter must stand up to the ancient power of the faerie courts—even as she falls in love with a faerie prince—in this gorgeous debut novel.
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. 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—and that love violates the fair folks’ ruthless laws. Now both of their lives are forfeit, unless Isobel can use her skill as an artist to fight 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.
I felt that An Enchantment of Ravens, by Margaret Rogerson, was written beautifully. It reads from the point of view of Isobel, an immensely talented human artist living in Whimsy. This is a neighborhood of talented humans adjacent to the Faerie courts. She is the youngest master of her time and is highly sought after by the fae for her portrait-work. The prose is lush and rich with description. Rogerson does a fantastic job in capturing the luxuries of faerie life in a way that I could imagine vividly in my mind's eye. The typical traits of faeries were also represented seamlessly: they can't lie and are susceptible only to iron.
The fae were my favorite characters. Each one distinctly belongs to his or her court with the traits that separate a fae from the Winter or Spring Courts. Particularly, Rook, the autumn prince. The dialogue he's given is hilarious and while Isobel is made out to be the heroine of this story, I felt that Rook was the true standout. In fact, I didn't care much for Isobel at all. In the beginning of the book, she describes herself a very cautious mortal, especially around the fae. Yet, in the span of the first fifty pages, she finds herself making dangerous (and plainly, stupid) decisions that sends her on a journey through the courts with Rook. The pace at which her emotions develop were totally unrealistic, given her backstory and experience interacting with the fae.
The pacing was indeed another point of the book that I wasn't a huge fan of. It's always difficult with a standalone novel and I felt that An Enchantment of Ravens could have benefitted from being a duology. The journey through the different courts was rushed and didn't make a whole lot of sense to me. These scenes were a kaleidoscope of colors and seasons changing, but did little to actually move the plot forward. There were promising plot points and intentions that were never fully developed, such as the portrait that Isobel painted of Rook depicting his sorrow, the trial she is supposed to stand for, and the blight of the faerie courts. It felt as though there was a very lengthy exposition that led to a very convenient solution within the last thirty pages of the book.
But even after the book ended, I wanted more! Despite my issues with the book, it was still an enjoyable read and shows that Rogerson is an incredibly talented writer. I hope that she will get the opportunity to write more books!
I rate An Enchantment of Ravens 3/5 stars.