An Enchantment of Ravens Book Review
I know, we're killing it on reviews lately. What can I say, we've had more reading time than usual. Between our unofficial fae, folklore, and retelling theme this month, we've got at least one book review in each category, with today's An Enchantment of Ravens hitting the fae mark.
Genre: YA Fantasy
Category: Candy Book
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Rating: 3/5 Stars
Why do we desire, above all other things, that which has the greatest power to destroy us?
After reading A Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson, I had high hopes for An Enchantment of Ravens. I was warned beforehand that it's not as good as Rogerson's second book, if only because the writing has improved since Enchantment, so I wasn't as disappointed as I could've been.
Isobel is a painter of the fair folk, a talent referred to as "Craft." She's paid in enchantments for her work, but she finds herself in a predicament when the autumn prince Rook visits for a painting. Over the course of painting him, Isobel realizes she's fallen for him.
Which . . . brings me to my first issue with the book. Isobel and Rook's time together is skimmed over, but from the very beginning, Rook seems infatuated with Isobel. This immortal creature who supposedly cannot feel love is entranced by this human girl because . . . I honestly don't know what she did, aside from not react to him like he's a monster. And I can't see him having that issue with mortal women, given his glamour is gorgeous and he's a prince.
I'm also a little disappointed in the main character, though I suppose I can't blame her for having a crush. It just . . . happens so fast. By page 42, she's admitting she loves him. I understand it's a short book and things need to move along, but . . . come on. The budding romance is half the fun.
The first instance of conflict has Rook whisking Isobel to the fae lands in a fury, because she painted mortal sorrow in Rook's eyes—an insult to the fair folk.
I figured this would be a huge source of contention and shake up whatever infatuation the two felt towards each other, but . . . after Isobel and Rook run into trouble in the fae lands, Rook decides, You know what? That painting isn't such a big deal. I don't think you meant any harm by it. I'm taking you home.
"I realize now that I—I made a mistake," he confessed. "You did not intentionally sabotage me." [. . .] "I told no one of my plans. We won't be missed in the autumn court. Once I have healed, I promise to return you to Whimsy."
How convenient? And so it is that three chapters after the inciting incident, the conflict fizzles out completely.
Now what's the trouble? As Rook states, he needs to heal, which involves traveling to the spring court.
Where Isobel spends the entire middle of the book painting the fair folk in droves (as part of her cover, they decide Rook's painting was a purposeful attempt at a new art form: human emotions on immortal faces! How crazy!). The fair folk of the spring court host tea parties, play shuttlecock and billiards, and prance around in fancy Victorian gowns while Isobel does this.
The fair folk seem less fae and more like Victorian ghosts. Which is not a terrible idea! I enjoyed the eerie Wonderland aspect Rogerson added, with the fair folk using glamour to disguise that they're eating rotted foods and wearing old, ratty clothing. I also appreciate how without their glamour, the fae look spindly, emaciated, and monstrous—almost zombie-like.
That said, I do wish the book explored that aspect more. Aside from an element of creepiness that didn't stretch further than the tea table, I didn't get the sense the fae meant any more harm than nasty tricks—none of which they dared play on Isobel.
Meanwhile, I found Rook more humorous than romantic. I couldn't take him seriously. He's at least a few hundred years old but feels the need to repeatedly point out he's a prince and can do what he likes. When something doesn't go his way, he exhibits the emotional range of a human toddler. Which would be completely in line with a volatile fae . . . if the fair folk weren't supposed to be devoid of human emotion. Rook is spewing emotions all over the place, but none of the other fair folk seem to notice.
The final conflict erupts because the fair folk discover Isobel and Rook are in love, an offence punishable by death. Which leads Rook to challenge the Alder King for the throne, the only way they can escape being killed.
All ends happily ever after when Isobel defeats the Alder King with some help from Rook, making her the queen of the fair folk and allowing the two lovebirds to be together. Huzzah!
But . . . does this mean Isobel is immortal now? Will they live in the fae realm or the human village of Whimsy—which, by the way, I'd love some explanation of. It's a village next to (in??) the fae realm, separate from The World Beyond, but that's all it lets you know. How did it come to be? Why do the fair folk interact with that village and no other? What's in The World Beyond? From context clues, I gather Whimsy is Victorian-esque, but that's all it gives you.
THE VERDICT: If you're looking for a cute, fairytale-like read that doesn't require a lot of concentration, this is perfect for a whimsical afternoon with tea and cakes.
“You surpass us all. [. . .] You are like a living rose among wax flowers. We may last forever, but you bloom brighter and smell sweeter, and draw blood with your thorns.”
Have you read either of Rogerson's books? Drop a comment below to let us know, or tag us @bookish_witches in your own review so we can see what you thought!