There are so many things I did not like about An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson that I don’t even know where to begin.
Let’s start with the characters
My problem, not for the first time, is a cast of two characters. Who aren’t even that interesting.
The main character, Isobel, starts out fine enough. She’s a renowned painter who knows the dangers of dealing with fae folk. Caution is something she has in spades. She also cares deeply about her family.
Then she meets the prince. And somehow, she loses all traces of personality after that meeting. Except for the part of her that is obsessed with the prince. Or, rather, is apparently in love with him. After what feels like a single conversation.
The prince is even more boring. There is absolutely nothing unpredictable or memorable about him. But I gotta give credit where it’s due: his vanity did make me laugh a time or two.
So what do you get when you put these two characters together and don’t provide any others to support them? Many romance cliches described in the most cliche ways. And such dramatics!
Which I think is my biggest issue with this book: supposedly, the romance is so forbidden it will unavoidably result in death. Supposedly, because everything is told and nothing is shown. So it feels like Isobel is just being annoyingly over-dramatic. Especially since the book is in first person POV.
(Not to mention that the rule just did not make sense. How do the faeries know if one of them is in love? Does the universe just kindly inform them of the fact, like a Gossip Girl? Or is it the true love’s kiss that indicates it? In which case, just don’t kiss, dammit. Unless, you know, it’s worth dying for.)
Faeries make everything better
What I did love about An Enchantment of Ravens is the world. Specifically, the unusual take on faeries.
Rather than being wicked and lovely, they are rotten to the core. Worse, they cover the ugly with glamour. Because they cannot create. At all. That is why they need humans: they are obsessed with craft. And I do mean obsessed.
So, yes, faeries save the day. Or the book, in this case.
Sadly, very little of the world is actually experienced. At least half of the story is spent on Isobel being dragged to the fairy lands. Which in reality means Too Much Moaning about her fatal attraction. While being stuck in the same damn forest. With nothing captivating about it.
So much for magic and grotesque.
Some book just don’t do it for you
Someone else might love An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson. I disliked everything except the world, which didn’t even get the attention it deserves.
The plot is non-existent. The characters are boring. The romance is 90% despairing how they can’t and 10% actual communication and getting to know each other. Instant attraction I understand. But love at first sight? Only if we’re talking Laini Taylor.
Truth is, there are many books that have the same cliche forbidden love that is too instant to ever be interesting. But I love many of such books. Because they have something that works for me, be it characters or the world or the plot. An Enchantment of Ravens has nothing. But that’s probably on me.
An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson
Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books on September 26th 2017
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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.