Hey hey, I’m back to hit you with a new review on Margaret Rogerson’s An Enchantment of Ravens. I’ve slowly but surely been gaining momentum and getting back into reading, and this was one of the most recent books I’ve picked up. This book has been so hyped and I’d be lying if I said that cover art didn’t totally do me in, but unfortunately, this one was a no-go for me. It really wasn’t bad, just not my cup of tea. You can read more of my thoughts on why that was below!
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.
I just want to start off this review by emphasizing this: this book isn’t bad, it’s just not for me. The writing was well done and there were some really clever and funny moments, but at 60% I just didn’t have any drive to finish it. If you want to know why that is and to hear my thoughts, feel free read ahead!
Granted, I did quit about 65% in, but even up until then I felt like I was waiting for something to happen. There was a lot of journeying around the forests, slipping through other courts, and an introduction of the wild hunt, and a good deal of fighting and running from threats with vague but ominous origins. By the time I finished I still couldn’t really understand why Isobel painting emotion onto Rook’s portrait was a big enough deal to warrant all the trouble they were going through. I gathered that the Fae aren’t big on expressing the feels, and that Rook felt his portrait only cemented his already perceived vulnerability from his own court, but even then it just seemed like Rook was a bit miffed and needed an excuse to whisk Isobel away in typical Fae fashion.
Even with that I was willing to just roll with it, but unfortunately I can’t say the same about the Insta-Love. It was apparent and predicable right at the beginning, but I kept reading in hopes that Isobel would prove me wrong. Isobel was funny, self-sufficient, and self-aware, which ended up making this so much more disappointing. Even though the portrait painting sessions happened over a period of time, that time lapse was described within a matter of paragraphs, so it really felt like a sudden development. Isobel knew the Insta-Love was ridiculous, and actively pointed out how quickly she fell for Rook and how they were moving fast, etc. but she still chose to focus and act on these feelings. Which is fine. I’m just not into the whole Insta-Love thing, so it didn’t do itself any favors in my book.
As far as Rook’s character goes, Isobel had to know something that I didn’t because as quickly and seriously as she became enamored with him, I personally felt there was no real basis for it. I’d be lying if I said I wouldn’t be intrigued by a Fae prince that showed up on my doorstep, and maybe he was super charming off scene, but I never got her attraction to him. Based off of other reviews I was prepared for a swoon-worthy, somewhat arrogant Fae prince who would get under my skin, but I honestly found Rook’s character to be really flat. I have a tendency to love purposefully arrogant/ obnoxious characters, but Rook never once got me annoyed or itching to punch him or anything, so overall I thought he was just kind of meh. Seeing as I based that expectation off of other reviews, though, I can’t really say Margaret Rogerson takes the blame for that one!
When it comes down to it, I don’t want to crap all over this debut because it honestly wasn’t bad. Margaret Rogerson can write; there were some laugh-out-loud moments that caught me off guard in the best kind of way, and she did bring in some potentially interesting plot points (the whole infected summer court thing seemed intriguing!!). I just found that at a little over halfway through, the characters and romance development just weren’t for me.