An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Publication date: 26 September 2017
Page count: 300 pages
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
This is a spoiler-free review.
I’ll be the first to admit it: I bought An Enchantment of Ravens because of its beautiful cover. I don’t think I’m the only one either — I kept seeing people raving about the book’s cover rather than the story inside. This ended up being a strange one for me — I initially really struggled to decide if I liked it or not.
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’m not a huge fan of books involving fae — I think that my seething hatred of A Court of Thorns and Roses has coloured my perception of them a little. However, I thought Rogerson handled them in an inventive way. I loved the angle that this book took with the Craft and the fae reliance on humans to create, well, everything. From the town of Whimsy’s master Crafters to Isobel’s careful interactions with the fae, I loved the way that this book had the air of a long-lost fairy tale.
There were bits of the world building that I really liked. Her descriptions of the seasons were absolutely lovely. Isobel has never seen any seen any season other than summer, and Roberson really captures her wonder as Isobel and the Autumn Prince travel through the fae lands. The different fae creatures were wonderfully depicted — I loved the monstrous beasts that they encounter on the road. The vivid descriptions are horrifying and wonderful. However, that is pretty much were my love for the book ends.
The fae in An Enchantment of Ravens are not smoulderingly sexy beings — they’re creepy and strange and unfamiliar. From their sinister actions and rewards to their long, strangely jointed fingers, they should have been just so creepy and disarming. If their appearance were enough, I would have loved them. But they’re also quite cartoonish, and I don’t think this was intentional. Particularly later on in the book, they’re just…silly. They’re supposed to be these hugely powerful and frightening beings and they’re just silly. A lot of the magic and the mystery was zapped away when we actually got to see them all together in their own domain. By the end of the book they are reduced to ridiculous creatures, which felt like such a missed opportunity.
Isobel had the makings of a great character. She’s incredibly talented and levelheaded. Her careful interaction with her fae clients has lead to her prosperity — she never lets herself get caught in their trickery. However, all of this went out the window when she falls head over heals in love with the Autumn Prince. Now technically, she falls in love over the course of several months, however it’s written in such a way that the time passes over a few pages — you just don’t see the relationship develop in a satisfying way. Suddenly, it feels like she’s throwing all of her careful planning and caution to the wind and it threw off her wonderful character. I really hated that she was another YA heroine who could have been so incredible, but threw away everything for a guy who had nothing going for him except his looks (cough cough Karou).
Overall, An Enchantment of Ravens is a book that had so much potential, but just fell so short of my hopes and expectations. I think a major part of this is the fact that it’s just so incredibly short! My copy is exactly 300 pages and it genuinely felt like it was 150 pages. It really could have benefited from another 150-200 pages — it really felt like half a novel. It was a beautiful draft with lovely writing, but the story and characters weren’t well-developed. However, I am not turned off of Rogerson’s writing — she’s an author I’d give another chance to in the future.
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I know this book seems to divide readers, so if you’ve read it, what did you think? Is it in your TBR? Let me know!
*Copy courtesy of Goodreads