Published: September 26, 2017
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Pages: 300 (Hardcover)
My Rating: 3.5/5.0
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.
An Enchantment of Ravens immediately caught my eye when I first came across it last year with its gorgeous cover and compelling synopsis. Alas, I didn’t have time to actually pick up a copy and read it until now. This is a shorter book, coming in at 300 pages, meaning that I zipped through it in about 4 hours and what a delightful way to spend those hours.
This book begins by introducing Isobel, who is a particularly talented portrait artist whose patrons happen to be the fey. Life is as usual until Rook, the Autumn Prince, arrives to have his portrait painted after a three century absence. Predictably, Isobel falls in love with him during the portrait sessions and not so predictably, she paints sorrow into his eyes. BIG MISTAKE. He’s enraged and swoops her off to face judgement for her fatal error aaaaand he falls in love with her too. Mutual love between human and fey is a crime punishable by death (how inconvenient) so they both try to pretend like this isn’t happening. Peril ensues. True love and a sharp iron knife to the heart of one’s enemy can solve all problems.
I actually really liked both Isobel and Rook as characters – they were interesting and had convincing flaws. The plot on the other hand was kind of generic – girl falls in love with fairy guy, love is forbidden, they overcome all their problems. I’m have mixed feelings about the length of the story as well. The plus side is that it was short and they cut to the chase on the romance and the resolution… but that’s also the negative side. It was so short that I feel like it could have either been a much better, more fleshed out story or it could have plunged into dismal YA clichés. I do think it could have done with some expansion near the end, because the resolution was so abrupt!
Overall, this was an enjoyable, quick read and I would read in sequels that may follow in the future. The setting was whimsical, as I expect from any book featuring the Fair Folk, with just a touch of dark soullessness. As my regular readers probably know, faeries are my absolute favorite mythical creatures and my expectations (or at least hopes) for every book featuring them are high. That being said, this book had some good things going for it, but I just didn’t love the story as much as I had hoped.