An Enchantment of Ravens was an amazing debut novel by Margaret Rogerson.
A skilled painter must stand up to the ancient power of the faerie courts— even as she falls in love with a faerie prince.
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.
I had read A Sorcery of Thorns by the same author, and I wasn’t sure what to expect at first. Isobel’s voice and the tone of the novel were completely different, but just as absorbing.
I absolutely LOVED that the fair ones depicted in this novel were not beautiful, and they were mischievous, conniving, and cruel. It reminds me a bit of the faeries written by Holly Black. Isobel is skilled and in high demand by the fair ones, and due to her talent at painting portraits, she has had significant amounts of contact with them. She learned about their nature quickly, and relied on that information, since they paid for her services through enchantments:
“No matter how cleverly they were worded, all but the most mundane, practical spells soured with age. Those that weren’t cleverly worded ruined lives.”
“She had enchanted chickens guaranteed to each lay six eggs a week, I reminded myself. A cord of firewood magically appeared outside the house every other month. Another fair one delivered a fat goose once per fortnight, and oddly, due to an awkwardly worded agreement, a pile of exactly fifty-seven walnuts materialized on the doorstep whenever a thrush sang in our oak tree.”
Even with the working, long-term relationships that she develops with these creatures, she understands their base nature better than most. Her talent and manners have led to mainly positive interactions, but she never lets her guard down around the fair folk after a negative experience touched her home when she was young.
“The truth of the matter was that no fair one was kind, whatever house they came from. They only pretended to be.”
Even this understanding doesn’t stop her from falling in love with one of the fair folk, and it puts not only her life in danger, but also his. Along the way, Isobel learns to question some of the deeply held beliefs she has had about them.
While the story was fairly serious, there was humor sprinkled throughout the story as well. Isobel and her aunt have adopted two twin girls, March and May, who are ensorcelled goats — while they look like young girls, they still retain some of their goat-ly characteristics, which never failed to make me laugh. Rook is a surprisingly funny character as well, mainly due to his lack of understanding of human customs and nature.
Overall, this book was definitely enjoyable and I’d strongly encourage you to read it if you like YA fantasy, books about faeries, and a good mix of humor, romance, and action.
People who have sat around with me while I’m reading, especially when there’s a surprising reveal, a shocking plot twist, or an unexpected event often look up in alarm when I gasp audibly. The gasp factor is directly related to the number of times I audibly gasp during a reading, and there isn't an upper limit.
Gasp Factor: 11
Overall Rating: 5 out of 5 stars