“What a Pretty Bird You Are”–A Review of An Enchantment of Ravens

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.

Something I’ve recently discovered about myself: I absolutely love faerie stories. It’s weird to me, all things considered. But, maybe it’s because of the whole set of new faerie stories coming out (A Court of series, any Holly Black book, etc.) and the fact that these faeries are portrayed as they were in old stories: as actual monsters.

Within Rogerson’s world, she’s developed a cool set of rules. Our world, The World Beyond, exists, with technology, changing seasons, and no fair folk. But Isobel’s world is ruled by faeries and their respective kingdoms. Her town of Whimsy is just on the border of the summerlands, to where it stays summery and hot forever. The fair folk are drawn to the town, because the citizens can create Craft (basics like cooking, up to arts like designing, writing, singing, and obviously painting), and faeries can’t create at all (it’s never explained why, but there is a really interesting scene when one does try). They pay for Craft with enchantments that can easily go bad if ever loophole isn’t closed (Isobel’s example of hens that lay six perfectly good eggs a week who have normal lifespans and no harm or illness to befall them while she’s alive is how freakin’ detailed these deals have to be). Oh, and they’re very obviously not human. They’re taller, and have to glamour themselves to not be terrifying. And they better not know your true name, or you’re seriously screwed.

We meet Gadfly, one of Isobel’s fair customers, who informs her that the Autumn Prince is coming for his portrait. This is the first time in centuries he’s been seen, so it’s obviously a Very Big Deal. The way Rook is introduced gives us more of a glimpse into Isobel’s past, which honestly isn’t covered that much. I kind of wish we did know more about her childhood and what happened to her parents, but at the same time, it forces us the readers to stay focused on the exact events laid out in front of us.

There’s discussion of the Green Well, a magical well that turns humans into faeries if they survive the fair lands long enough to actually drink from it. There’s a lot of walking. If you don’t really like journey stories, then you might not dig this book. There are so many references to old Celtic mythology, too, which I’m all about, but if you’re a purist for those stories, you might not enjoy the allusions.

Faeries are freakin’ scary in Enchantment, and I love it so much. I give An Enchantment of Ravens 5 out of 5 feathers.

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