Review: An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson

Author: Margaret Rogerson
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Publication Date: September 26th 2017
Source: paperback book (bought)


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A skilled painter must stand up to the ancient power of the faerie courts—even as she falls in love with a faerie prince—in this gorgeous debut novel.
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. 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—and that love violates the fair folks’ ruthless laws. Now both of their lives are forfeit, unless Isobel can use her skill as an artist to fight 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. 
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Isobel is a painter. She is considered a prodigy amongst her peers, with a Craft at a level no one has ever seen. Her clients are dangerous and mysterious: she is employed by the fair folk. The fair folk are dangerous, cruel and mysterious creatures that crave the human craft: they cannot write, weave cloth or even bake without dying and crumbling to dust. They employ Isobel to paint their portraits in order to be remembered for posterity.
One day a different sort of patron appears: Isobel's first royal client, Rook, the Autumn Prince.  This time she makes a fatal mistake, she paints human sorrow in his eyes. When he unveils the portrait in his court and finds out what has happened he is infuriated and leaves in a quest to bring Isobel back to the Autumnlands to stand trial.
With their path disrupted by the Wild Hunt, under the influence of the feared Alder King, they head towards the Spring Court. Escaping from monsters too scary to describe and escaping from the dangers and illusions of the faerie lands, Isobel and Rook start getting close and depend on one another to survive. However, when their bond blossoms into love, they are breaking one of the fair folk most sacred laws, for a faerie cannot take a human as a consort, or even just love one. Both of their lives are forfeit and Isobel tries to use her Craft to battle against the faerie courts: her portraits now show emotions of the otherwise emotionless visage.
The first comment I found when researching a bit about this book is its frequent comparison with Sarah J. Maas's A Court of Thornes and Roses (ACOTAR). Even though I can see very clearly where the similarities lie, I believe they are mostly due to the Beauty and the Beast aspect of the story. ACOTAR is very clearly a retelling of this old story and An Enchantment of Ravens certainly contains two essential aspects for this style of book: a male main character that can be described as a monster and a female main character that is beautiful, innocent and smart, also, they fall in love (sorry but there is no spoiler there). I believe Margaret Rogerson's can stand on its own, even with its similarities with Maas's one.
One of the aspects of this story that has bewitched me the most are the great world building and atmosphere, with beautiful heartfelt visual cues: you can visualize what is going on. The descriptions are beautiful and detailed but not so specific as to bore the reader. You can associate the faeries real look with the cold aspect of their personality and how immortality and coldness transpire in their outward appearance: they are beautiful but they are also cold and stagnant. That is why Rook stands out.
Everything about Rook is warm: he is associated with his court, the Autumn Court, and with rich tones of red and orange and brown and all that we would associate with Autumn time. That makes the reader associate him with some warmness, especially after reading his interactions with Isobel. Rook is visibly torn on some occasions and that makes him as relatable as his coldness and utter lack of visible emotion make him otherworldly and mysterious.
Isobel is the real main character of this story, the whole plot relies on her development and growth. The most special way of emulating her is translated into the ambience and descriptions: there is a very deep association and extensive exploration of colour and its meanings and effects. Everything is associated with colour, making it like we are reading an artist's interpretation of the world. Colour, texture, light and darkness are not only of artistic importance but also transmit essential pieces of symbolism throughout the story.
Overall, this is a very nice quick to read story about family, love and loyalty. The focus on human values and the love for one's occupation make this a very inebriating read and the love aspect is certainly swoon-worthy and not graphic at all. This is a story I happily advise to everyone!

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