An Enchantment of Ravens
Published 2017 by McElderry Books
I have to admit that I was first drawn to An Enchantment of Ravens by its lovely cover. The description made it sound rather like the A Court of Thorns and Roses series, and that put me on the fence about reading it. I read the first book in that series and enjoyed it, but I’ve never been motivated to read the rest of the trilogy, and the idea of yet another book about a sexy fae prince wasn’t really pulling me in. But I received a copy in the October Shelflove Crate, so I gave it a try. It turned out to be very different than I expected.
Isobel is an artist living in a town called Whimsy. The human inhabitants of this town have a special relationship with fairies. Many of the townspeople make what is called the Craft, basically anything that involves creating: painting, baking, sewing. The Fair Folk have magic, but they cannot create anything, so they are obsessed with human Craft and many of them have commissioned 17-year-old Isobel to paint their portraits. The Fair Folk pay for Craft with valuable enchantments. Isobel is very careful in what enchantments she requests (one must be very specific or the enchantment can backfire), and she is quite popular with the Fair Folk because of her great talent.
One day, the Autumn prince, Rook, arrives and commissions a portrait. Isobel and Rook develop something of an attraction over the days that he poses for the portrait. But Isobel knows that nothing can happen between them, because love between and human and a fairy is forbidden by Fair Folk law. When the painting is done, Isobel assumes she will never see Rook again, but he returns a few days later in a rage because Isobel has inadvertently painted Rook showing human emotions, something that is anathema to the Fair Folk and puts his position as leader of the Autumn Court in jeopardy. He drags her into the fairy lands to stand trial for her supposed crime, but on their way to the Autumn lands, they are attacked and they end up going on a journey through different parts of fairy land.
This book was really delightful. I was a little worried that it was going to be instalove for Isobel and Rook, but although they’re attracted to each other while she’s painting his portrait, the relationship doesn’t really develop into love until they are running for their lives through the fairy lands. At times, Isobel finds Rook quite maddening, but it’s the sort of Mr. Darcy kind of maddening. Rook isn’t a polished, suave fairy prince. He can be abrupt and odd at times, but he’s also charming in his own way and quite funny. Take this line, for example: “It isn’t as though I’ve done it on purpose. Somehow I’ve even grown fond of your–your irritating questions, and your short legs, and your accidental attempts to kill me.”
I found the concept of Craft and the Fair Folk’s inability to create really interesting. The Fair Folk are clearly at an advantage over humans in terms of their great power, but they are dependent on humans for anything beautiful and artistic. There’s a sense of jealousy toward humans on the part of the fairies. Human emotions are alien to them, but they crave what humans create. When Isobel ventures into the Spring Court, there is a seemingly endless line of Fair Folk who want a portrait. Even though they have no magic, their Craft gives humans a small amount of power.
Another thing I liked about this book is that it’s a stand alone. I do like series, but it’s nice to finish a book and not have to worry about committing to six more books. The story felt very complete.