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Book Review: An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson

“Why do we desire, above all other things, that which has the greatest power to destroy us?”

Margaret Rogerson’s debut novel, An Enchantment of Ravens was one of my most anticipated fall fantasy novels. The prose is lovely and the story is wonderful - but I knew from about half way through the book that the ending was what would ultimately make it or break it for me. I’ll tell you now, I found it to be quite satisfactory.

Let me explain; with some books I know that I’ll rate them highly at the mid-way point. Others, the end defines the experience for me. And this is the type of book that I needed it to end in a way that would either surprise me or evoke an emotional shit-storm for it to be more than just an average, well written debut novel. I’m not sure if I’m the only person who is like this – but a couple of my all-time favorite books are gorgeously written, but the endings really seal the deal and make it a favorite for me (EX: The Night Circus – which has my heart forever). I’m happy to say that I was pleasantly surprised with how this book turned out, and while I won’t gush or wax poetic about this story it did rank about 3.5 - 4 stars for me.

Let’s talk about this:

The premise is very “beauty and the beast” or if you’re familiar with Sarah J. Maas’ A Court of Thorns and Roses you could possibly compare An Enchantment of Ravens to that. I will say that the story itself is very different from those stories but the idea is similar. Isobel is a human living in Whimsy who at the age of seventeen is a master painter, and is commissioned to paint portraits of the fair folk who frequent Whimsy to purchase “craft” (which is basically anything and everything that one makes ie: paintings, clothing, cooking, baking, building, etc) with their enchantments. The fair folk or fairies are very dangerous and cunning creatures who covet craft in its many forms, and Isobel is distrustful of them and has spent her entire life wary of the enchantments they offer and the glamour they use to manipulate the mortals of Whimsy. She lives with her aunt Emma and two sisters (who were at one time goat children and that is just too fun) March and May. For the most part she’s level headed, responsible and not overly emotional or prone to infatuation.

And she stays true to that character…until she is commissioned by the Fae Prince of the Autumnlands to paint a portrait. Rook is very handsome and very powerful and Isobel finds herself falling in love with him. Which is impossible because that would be breaking the Good Law, resulting in death for both Rook and herself.

So she paints his portrait, he leaves and has the painting delivered to his court in the Autumnlands via courier. But then Rook returns to Whimsy, in outrage, because Isobel has done something terrible – she’s painted him with human emotion in his eyes (Fairies lack all human emotions and so to be seen with them is weakness). He decides to take her with him back to the Autumn Court for trial to restore his reputation among the other fair folk of his court resulting in a crazy chase that ends up being a good portion of the book.

There were quite a few elements that I loved about this book. The writing is absolutely beautiful. Rogerson does an exemplary job of describing Whimsy, the fairy courts and those who inhabit them. I enjoyed Rook’s incredulity about pretty much everything “human”. The part when Isobel wakes up to him picking twigs out of her hair and tells him that he cannot touch her without her permission, he almost doesn’t have any comprehension as to why he can’t do what he wants. The comedic timing is spot on, he’s just very charming and it’s so cute.

I loved the complexity of the fair folk, the glamour they use to distract from who and what they actually are. It was both grotesque and fascinating. I really enjoyed that aspect of this story, and don’t want to go into too much detail because I think you should read it for yourself.

My only hang up is when a mortal falls in love with an immortal being. NOW WHAT?! I’m trying not to have flashbacks to Twilight – because 9/10 times the only way it works out is if HE TURNS HER INTO AN IMMORTAL! And how many times have we seen this? I want my ship to be happily sailing through uncharted waters, but I am so tired of the inevitable change from mortal to immortal as the solution for a happy ending. That said, I also don’t want anyone to die. It’s a conundrum.
I know.

So I was pleasantly surprised that Margaret Rogerson was able to put fresh spin on a classic tale without being predictable. I don’t want to give away any spoilers so I’ll just finish by saying this book was lovely, and I highly recommend for fans of YA fantasy and contemporary fiction. After having such a strong debut, I’m looking forward to Ms. Rogerson’s future novels. If there's a novel wishlist - I would like MORE BOOKS about The Alder King and definitely Gadfly.

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1 comment

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