Monday, November 13, 2017

An Enchantment of Ravens - Margaret Rogerson

Title: An Enchantment of Ravens
Author: Margaret Rogerson
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books (Simon & Schuster), 2017 (Hardcover)
Length: 300 pages
Genre: Young Adult; Fantasy
Started: November 7, 2017
Finished: November 13, 2017

From the inside cover:

With a flock of her paintbrush, Isobel creates stunning portraits for a dangerous set of clients: the fair folk. These immortal creatures cannot bake bread or put a pen to paper without crumbling to dust. They crave human Craft with a terrible thirst, and they trade valuable enchantments for Isobel's paintings. But when she receives her first royal patron - Rook, the autumn prince - Isobel makes a deadly mistake. She paints mortal sorrow in his eyes, a weakness that could cost him his throne, and even his life.

Furious, Rook spirits Isobel away to his kingdom to stand trial for her crime. But something is seriously amiss in his world, and they are attacked from every side. With Isobel and Rook depending on each other for survival, their alliance blossoms into trust, perhaps even love...a forbidden emotion that would violate the fair folk's ruthless laws, rendering both their lives forfeit. What force could Isobel's paintings conjure that is powerful enough to defy the ancient malice of the fairy courts?

Isobel and Rook journey along a knife-edge in a lush world where beauty masks corruption and the cost of survival might be more frightening than death itself.

Fae, fantasy, and that stunning cover. I love me some fairy lore, so I was so along for this ride. The ride was enjoyable, no doubt, but I wasn't as impressed as I was hoping I'd be.

The premise has such potential: the Fae, who are cunning, vain and cannot lie, are sorted into their seasonal courts like in many other fantasy settings. They crave the products of human imagining (writing, painting, cooking, crafting, etc.) and routinely leave their realm to visit Whimsy, a place shrouded in eternal summer where humans live to produce Craft and hope to live long enough without being subject to the callous whims of the Fae around them. There's the World Beyond that people can escape to, or humans can drink from the Green Well to become Fae themselves.

Amongst all this, Isobel is a painter, specializing in portraits, and her work is prized among the fair folk. When Rook, the Autumn price, asks for his portrait, Isobel finds herself falling in love with him, and he with her, over the several weeks he sits for her. When her work depicting human sorrow in his eyes is unveiled to Rook's court, he absconds with her back to the autumnlands to have her stand trial for her crime of exposing his weakness, but they never make it that far, being diverted by Hemlock and the Wild Hunt pursuing them.

The pure imagination of the setting and the details surrounding it are just amazing. The author is a good writer as well, so I have to give her props for those two elements. The only thing that was a bit of a detriment was that there wasn't enough explained in terms of the world building, like how did Whimsy come to be? What is the World Beyond? Why do the Fae crave Craft? What is the deal with the Alder King and the Wild Hunt? There's so much introduced here and it isn't really built upon, at least to my satisfaction. Also, the romance wasn't really believable. Isobel and Rook essentially fall in love before they go on their crazy journey through fairy land, and it just isn't realistic considering they barely speak during the time the portrait is being commissioned. Other than those two things, the book is quite the enjoyable ride, but unfortunately prevent it from being an absolutely stellar book that I was really hoping for.

Definitely worth the read, but sadly not amazing. I'm interested enough though to see what the author writes in the future though, there's a lot of promise here.

Thoughts on the cover:
Freaking stunning illustration of Isobel and Rook (in raven form). The illustrator is Charlie Bowater, seriously go Google this guy and stand in awe of his work. He has some work in his gallery from Sarah J. Maas' Court of Thrones and Roses trilogy, so any fans of that work can go ogle those like I did.

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