Author: Margaret Rogerson
Narrator: Julia Whelan
Running Time: 8 hours, 45 minutes
TRIGGER WARNINGS: Mild gore and violence
Goodreads Summary: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 among them. 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, violating the fair folks’ ruthless Good Law. There’s only one way to save both their lives, Isobel must drink from the Green Well, whose water will transform her into a fair one—at the cost of her Craft, for immortality is as stagnant as it is timeless.
Isobel has a choice: she can sacrifice her art for a future, or arm herself with paint and canvas against the ancient power of 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.
What’s it called when you mix disappointment with an newly released book you’ve been anticipating? Asking for me cause that’s exactly what I’m feeling after finishing An Enchantment of Ravens. This book seemed to have so much going for it! Fae, an autumn theme, a story centered around art–what could go wrong? The answer: a lot.
One of my biggest problems with An Enchantment of Ravens was the number of things that seemed like convenient loopholes and inconsistencies born of a weak plot and shallow world-building. For instance, craft = art, right? Then why can the fairies dance??? Is dance just conveniently deemed “not an artform” so we could get a masquerade ball scene? And that was one of the minor loopholes. The plot seemed so riddled with these loopholes and inconsistencies that I honestly lost track!
The lack of world-building totally played into the creation of those inconsistencies and loopholes! Literally nothing–nothing!–had an explanation, the reader is just expected to gobble it all up without asking any questions. Where did the fairies come from? How does their magic work? Why does the Good Law even exist? What were the villain’s motivations? And for God’s sake–can someone please tell me what historical era this book is set in or is supposed to mimic?!?!! I mean, what on Earth is going on in this world and why is it happening?!!! *cue existential crisis*
Also, can we take a moment to talk about the plot and the wonky pacing, please? Let’s start with the fact that during majority of the first half of the book Rook and Isobel were literally walking in circles in the forest! What was driving the plot during this period? Ya got me there ’cause I sure as heck don’t know! And when we got to the bulk of the plot in the second half, it turns out the plot was really weak and built on a really flimsy point. HIGHLIGHT FOR SPOILER -> I mean the idea that Rook and Isobel defeated The Alder King simply because he was trying to enforce a law??? You couldn’t find a more compelling reason to defeat him??? I mean the dude is supposed to be evil, right? Yet his worst action was trying to enforce a law??? Come on.<-The watery plot made for really uneven pacing too. The pace was very stop and go and it gave the story this really weird cadence. It was all very frustrating.
There was also the issue of the characters and their lack of chemistry, as well as my lack of connection to them. Part of the issue for me was that I felt like they weren’t that deep. Isobel was defined by two factors: her love of painting and her difficulty in breaking rules. Rook was…cocky…just cocky, but that was about the only defining trait that he had. Gadfly was just vain, Lark was just bubbly–you see, the characters were all so one dimensional! The characters’ lack of depth probably played into their lack of chemistry too, which brings me to the romance…
I’m not the biggest fan of insta-love, it’s true, but I can bear it so long as said couple has good enough chemistry. And sadly, chemistry was perhaps the biggest thing missing from the romantic pairing of Isobel and Rook. I just couldn’t see why they liked each other. What was their relationship built on??? The fact that they both thought the other was pretty??? Because that’s all I can imagine they’d know about each other after knowing each other for such a short period. Everything about the romance was so uncompelling.
I do want to take a moment to talk about the frustrating fact that An Enchantment of Ravens had no explicit diversity. It’s not that I need every book I read to be diverse, but what made this book particularly frustrating is that it had hints at diversity, but it was never explicitly said. For instance, the Autumn Court fairies are described as being “tan”. Okay, so are they modeled after people of color or are they modeled after tan white people??? Another thing was that it was always mentioned how Rook was very restless and fidgety. It would be easy for some readers to read into that as, “Rook has ADHD.” But it would also be easy for readers to overlook that and think, “Oh, he’s just a restless soul.” Does Rook have ADHD? I can’t say because it’s never explicitly stated if he does. You see what I mean with the diversity being a near miss? The author came so close to making you think she added diverse characters but then didn’t follow through with the action of actually adding diverse characters. That’s what made this book so irritating in terms of diversity and representation.
So all in all, An Enchantment of Ravens was more than a little underwhelming for me. It was hailed as a “great alternative to ACoTAR” but the only thing the books had in common was a) seasonal fairy courts and b) a complete and total lack of any kind of diversity. Color me less than impressed.