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.
Isobel is a master painter. She is the person that faeries turn to when they want a portrait of themselves, and as she has been dealing with them her whole life, she has learned how to extract payment without being tricked. She has learned how to take care of not just herself, but the family that relies on her. One day, her most regular client mentions that the Autumn court Prince will be coming to be painted the next day. Isobel does her best with his portrait, but something about his eyes is off. She finally adds emotion to them, and they’re perfect. The prince, however does not agree. He whisks her away to stand trial for this “crime,” and along the way there is adventure and so much wonderful imagery.
A few month ago I had the opportunity to go to a book event that Margaret Rogerson was attending, but I didn’t go. And now I’m really upset with myself. I hadn’t read An Enchantment of Ravens at the time, but ugh am I annoyed with myself. Because I loved this book! It wasn’t a crazy adventure fantasy like a lot of what I read usually is, but it still got through a pretty amazing adventure in 300 pages.
The faeries in this story have some different rules than in other fae books I’ve read. They cannot perform any human craft – painting, sewing, cooking, etc. – or else they will die. They apparently also cannot feel human emotion, at least not as truly. Otherwise, they are pretty similar. They use people as they want and they do their best to trick the unwitting.
I do have to say, the one thing that really upsets me about this book is that it is such a short standalone. Margaret has such a beautiful writing style, and she did such an amazing job creating this world in a limited space, but I would so love to see it expanded. We only saw one court up close in this book and though the ending was mostly tied-up, I would still like to know what happens next. Maybe another book or two in this world? Pretty please?
Have you read An Enchantment of Ravens? What did you think? What other books do you think needed to be longer or have a series?