An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Pages: 300

Goodreads: An Enchantment of Ravens

Genres: Fantasy; Young Adult; Fae; Paranormal; High Fantasy; Romance

Publication date: September 26, 2017

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With a flick 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 upon each other for survival, their alliance blossoms into trust, perhaps even love . . . a forbidden emotion that would violate the fair folks’ 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.

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“Aha,” he added, straightening, “I’d nearly forgotten. We’ve had gossip in the spring court that the autumn prince is going to pay you a visit. Imagine that! I look forward to hearing whether he manages to sit through an entire session, or hares off after the Wild Hunt as soon as he’s arrived.”

I wasn’t able to school my expression at the news. I stood gaping at Gadfly until a puzzled smile crossed his lips and he extended his pale hand in my direction, perhaps trying to determine whether I’d died standing up, not an unreasonable concern, as to him humans no doubt seemed to expire at the slightest provocation.

“The autumn -” my voice come out rough. I closed my mouth and cleared my throat. “Are you quite certain? I was under the impression the autumn prince did not visit Whimsy. No one has seen him in hundreds…” Words failed me.

Chapter one

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I enjoyed this story a lot more the second time around than I did the first. Looking back at my notes from the first time I read/listened to this story, it seems to me that my feelings were swayed on this story because I read/listened to it right after Sorcery of Thorns. I still maintain that Sorcery of Thorns is more my speed, but I truly did enjoy being in Isobel’s head. It doesn’t hurt that this time I read An Enchantment of Ravens before picking up Sorcery of Thorns again.

However, I do find that the story drags on a bit. By both looking at my notes from the first time I read this story and reading/listening to Sorcery of Thorns right after this story, I’m pretty sure I know what that is.

For a debut novel, this read was phenomenal. Absolutely outstanding – exactly what I want from a YA fantasy read. But Rogerson’s writing improved so much between this and her second book. The characters in this world are well rounded, but the characters in Sorcery of Thorns are just… more. I adore this world that Rogerson has created and the magic that it contains.

My issue during my original read through was the order in which I read these stories. I understand how these books won’t be for everyone – not everyone loves reading about fae trickery or people who work in libraries – but these books both cover topics I love. I’m thrilled that Rogerson’s writing improved between her debut novel and the second book she got published. I love truly do love them both. And now I know that the next time I read them, I should probably pick them up in the order that they were written for the best reading experience for myself personally. And you’d better believe that I’ll be picking these stories up again!

This journey book might not be for everyone, but if you’re looking for an enjoyable read where the intricacies of fae courts are explained and the desire for infinite life surpasses the desire for human craft of any kind, then you’d probably enjoy this read.

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*Spoilers ahead*

While it may seem like a small thing to most people, one of my favourite parts of this story is when Isobel steps onto the faerie path and the sky has stars between the starts.

Excuse me as I butcher this but: My favourite argument towards the universe not being infinite is the theory that if the universe had no end, the sky would constantly be lit up. There would be no space between the stars at night because light from different stars would always be shining between the gaps we see. The Earth’s night sky is lit up by a lot of lights from long dead stars. Since the stars’ light is traveling at, well, the speed of light, the light has the ability to appear at Earth long after the star itself has died.

Because there is darkness in the sky, it proves (at least in this theory) that the universe is not infinite. If the universe truly was infinite then there would be no darkness in the sky, no telling the light of one star from the light of another. The sky would simply be lit up from all around us as the light from long dead stars from the infinite “corners” of the universe finally reached our planet. Since this isn’t the case, the universe must be at least somewhat infinite.

Anyways, that’s my really long winded (and butchered) explanation as to why I really adore the moment that Isobel steps onto the faerie path and sees stars between the stars. It’s a glimpse into an infinite universe, a place where there is no end. This is something that a mere human’s brain would struggle to grasp and it could very easily drive a person crazy.

And it’s such a subtle way to bring this up, too – the finite nature of humans themselves and our inability to grasp things outside of ourselves. So yeah, definitely one of my favourite scenes there.

Of course, if I’m going to go on about this story I should probably also talk about the main points of it. So here goes nothing.

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The romance between Isobel and Rook was perfect for this story. We’ve got an innocent human girl who wants nothing more than to stay human and the most powerful fae prince there is. One creature who will do anything to stay the way they are, to maintain the craft that makes up their entire existence. And one creature that’s been alive for so long they don’t even know how to exist outside of duty.

While I’ve seen a lot of reviews harping on the romance of this story – calling it cliched, too obvious, corny, etc. – I really did enjoy it.

There’s a reason clichés exist – they work. I enjoy the human breaking through the broody love interest’s downward spiral and showing them there’s a reason to love. I enjoy watching the all powerful fae lord (well, prince in this case) being brought to his knees by the pitifully weak human girl. I adore watching someone face emotions that they’ve never had to face before, to come to terms with the world they thought they knew being different than they’d always thought.

And sometimes an “obvious” romance is exactly what you want from a story. Can you seriously tell me that you want to struggle to find hints of a romance when the book’s synopsis clearly spells it out?

Sure if you’re going into the book without reading the synopsis you’re not going to be blown away by a romance from left field. But that’s not what this book is trying to do. It promises a journey where animosity turns into love and that’s exactly what the book gives you.

If anything, the depth of the romance in this story is deeper than just that base level analysis. Because we get a hint of “instalove” when Isobel thinks she’s fallen for Rook and broods over him when he’s gone. But, even if she doesn’t vocalize it in so many words, it becomes apparent that this was simply lust. The lust of a teenage girl finding someone intriguing for the first time and not understanding her own emotions. The lust of someone who’s never thought about romance or what it might mean for themself.

When Isobel finally starts to get to know Rook, to not just watch him for days on end while she paints his portrait, she realizes that the feelings she had for him were not really love. Sure she had a crush and would have romanticized an idealized version of him in her mind if they’d never run into each other again, but she’d one day be able to move past that and find someone to be with.

In the end, Rook realizes his feelings for Isobel before she realizes her feelings for him. I’m sure that’s at least partially due to his inability to lie, even to himself. But Isobel’s true love was slower, a more gradual shift in emotion. It was so drastically different from what she’d experienced that first time – the lust she had upon meeting Rook – that she didn’t even realize what emotions were taking root.

So yes, in some ways the romance in this book can be seen as “obvious” or “pedantic”. But only if you’re giving the romance the most cursory of looks. You don’t even have to go past the first layer to see more than a cliché romance – you just need to recognize that there are stages to it. I could dissect the romance further, bring up more ways that it goes beyond the basic critiques and criticisms that I’ve read, but I think I’ve made my point. (Though I welcome any thoughts that challenge the points I’ve made above.)

Aside from the romance, I really enjoyed Hawthorne and the wild hunt. I feel bad that she was left behind to the mercy of the Alder King, but boy did I enjoy her role in this story. She did a fantastic job as a plot device through giving Isobel and Rook hints about who the real enemy was. Heck, she even disobeyed her new master to find Rook and warn him rather than killing him outright.

The fae are wild, ruthless creatures so it makes sense that not all of the named characters are going to make it out of the story alive. That being said, Hawthorne is certainly one of my favourite side characters. Excuse me while I go off and imagine her adventures…

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I may be the kind of person who can sit down and devour a whole series in a day (though this happens less often now that I’ve got adult responsibilities and an incredibly needy dog), sometimes it’s nice to read a standalone novel. This one off faerie tale is exactly what I need sometimes – a world that quickly draws me in and suspends me in its magic. Of course I love my extended fantasy series, but sometimes a quick tale is exactly what’s needed.

Besides, now I get to continue the story in my head.

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