Book Review: An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson
Reading format: Library hardback
Content warnings: kidnapping, fighting, death, injuries
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Seventeen-year old Isobel lives in Whimsy with her aunt and younger twin sisters. It’s a village often frequented by the fair folk, who are driven by their desire for human Craft. They can’t so much as cook, sew, or write without turning to dust. Isobel’s Craft is painting and she’s reknown among the echelons of the fair folk for her talent. In exchange for enchantments that benefit and protect her family, she paints portraits of the fair folk to capture their immortal vanity.
After completing yet another portrait of her most loyal customer, she receives a visit from her first royal patron, Rook, the autumn prince. But he isn’t like the other fair folk and, as she begins to paint, Isobel realizes there’s something missing in her likeness of Rook. On the last day she recognizes the missing element is the human emotion of sorrow, and deftly paints it in his eyes. She isn’t aware of her error until a furious and humiliated Rook returns after unveiling the portrait at court. Captured to stand trial for this affront, they make their way through the summer lands, where they realize something is amiss. As their roles change begrudgingly to an alliance, and perhaps something more that could violate the Good Law.
An Enchantment of Ravens is a fast-paced, light, young adult fantasy read. The premise of this book drew me in with its slight Feyre Archeron of A Court of Thorns and Roses painter vibes. The length of this book was also appealing as I wasn’t in the mood to read a 500-page stunner. Right away I noticed how deft Rogerson is with words and really enjoyed the writing of this book. The writing is succinct, but descriptive, and sometimes lyrical, which keeps the story moving along.
I also always like a story with a strong female lead, and this book delivers. Isobel is the main person responsible for the safety of her family; she’s confident in her Craft and herself; and she’s level-headed and observant. She’s also not flawless. Several times I found myself appreciative that Rogerson wrote about mundane things: needing to use the bathroom, being super dirty and smelly after traipsing through the woods fighting off strange creatures. You know, the usual. A couple of times I even chuckled at Isobel’s matter-of-factness.
Another aspect I like about this book is that Rook doesn’t fall squarely in the stereotypical all-powerful and stoic main male character role. Sure, he’s the autumn prince so he does have a lot of power he can call upon; and he does have to save Isobel a couple of times because the fair folk world is dangerous to humans. But he requires saving too, physically and emotionally. At times he’s less cautious than Isobel and it was refreshing to see the main female lead chastize the oh-so-perfect fae male character for this (whom authors often portray as having a great hold on their emotions).
However, though I enjoyed reading An Enchantment of Ravens, I felt like the plot was a bit underdeveloped. The premise of this book is that Rook is furious Isobel painted weakness in his eyes; weakness means losing authority, which is dangerous for a prince of any court. As they journey through the woods to put Isobel on trial, they find there’s something wrong with the summer lands. But why the lands are rotting is never really explained in the book. Or did I read it too fast? [Semi-spoiler-y] Rogerson alludes to several courts being under the influence of the Alder King, but those plot lines are left rather loosely tied.
Also, most of the story takes place during Isobel’s and Rook’s journey through the woods of the fair folk lands. Because of this, I felt like, in a nutshell, there wasn’t a lot of worldbuilding. Perhaps some don’t like a lot of worldbuilding, but I prefer it. There’s just enough to learn about the revelry of the fair folk as we visit one of the courts; but that’s about it.
By now I’m sure you’ve come to realize that there’s also romance in this book. I don’t read traditional romance novels, but I’m a fan of romance in the fantasy genre. However, I felt like it all evolved rather quickly. The story transpires over maybe a week and I found the development of such devotion just a little unbelievable. But what do I know? I’ve never had an adventure with a fae male.
Overall, I’d recommend this book if you’re looking for a lighter fantasy read. Just keep in mind that this isn’t a complex read and enjoy it for what it is. I’m a little sad I gave it a lower rating because I liked the writing; the plot details just needed a little more oomf. Critiques acknowledged, I still had fun reading this.
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Publish Date: September 26, 2017