Publishing Info: September 26, 2017 by Simon & Schuster
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: October 26, 2017
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.
Sooooo, the hype ran away with this book a little bit there, didn’t it?
Well, let’s chat. There was a huge hype around this book, especially when you say words like ENCHANTMENT and RAVENS, but sadly I appear to be the black sheep again on another hyped book. From some of the raving reviews, I was expecting so much more when it came to the creation of this world, the depth of the romance, and the pacing of the plot. I was missing a whole lot of world-building, history, and character development. There was soooo much more that could have been done with this book and I felt those gaping holes very noticeably.
One of the biggest letdowns for me about this book is that it just felt so… simple. Everything could have gone so much DEEPER and it all seemed a bit surface-level when it could have been so much more complex and interesting. Isobel is swept away to the lands of the fair folk by the Autumn Prince but it was for a very surface reason and I thought that could have been thought out a lot better. Then there’s some journeying (one of my least favorite things), fleeing from the Wild Hunt, random creatures, and then Isobel is painting portraits of the Fair Folk and… some stuff happens?? It’s not like the plot was lacking in THINGS but it was lacking in following through on any of them. I kept feeling like the things that kept happening were going to go somewhere but nothing really developed into an actual interesting tidbit of world-building or plot.
The Wild Hunt was introduced and Hemlock from the Winter Court who was leading it… but then that kind of didn’t really go anywhere as far as details on what it was, why it was happening, how Hemlock got to be leading it, etc. I won’t get into Isobel and her Fair Folk painting sessions because there are some spoilers there, but same thing — there was so much more story to tell there and unravel some magic and WHY it was happening or WHY it was important but it just kind of… was. I understand with magic systems sometimes you just have to suspend the scientific part of your brain where you need explanations why, but I had a hard time and felt like I was left with the author’s promise that this was just the way it was instead of understanding how a world came to be, its governing systems, its hierarchy, its history, how it functions within a magical realm… It just wasn’t there for me.
Some things were explained but really in passing sentences and there was no rich story behind any of it. Being that this book was only 300 pages, I thought that it could have benefited soooo much more from being 350-400 pages and included more of the world-building that I love so much in fantasy novels. Even the title was lacking for me, being that it’s called AN ENCHANTMENT OF RAVENS and then the actual enchantment itself played such a small part in the story. Rook transformed into a raven but that wasn’t the actual enchantment and the enchantment itself was hardly used, and even when it was referenced again, it didn’t even really come into play.
AEOR was also VERY much like A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES when it didn’t have to be and could have been changed in a lot of ways. I understand that this book could have been written 5 years ago and just got published now… but even if that were the case, things still should have been changed maybe a liiiiittle bit to not be so similar to one of the most popular series out there. Maybe that was the marketing strategy — to actually be a little similar? — because I know that some people liked it BECAUSE of that, but some of the main points were just too similar for my tastes and I really wanted this book to stand on its own. Granted, I don’t know a lot about fae folklore/history/culture/origin stories because I haven’t read as many fae books as other high fantasy so it could be that some of these things were taken from common folklore that I just don’t know… but for the average reader who may not know these things (which I guess is me), things just seemed awfully similar and it was irksome. Between the seasonal courts, purple eyes, a main character who paints, a forbidden romance, the involvement of the Spring Court and where that goes, and a spoiler at the end that I won’t share, I just spotted too many similarities to the Court of Thorns and Roses trilogy and you know how it goes — once you spot a few, you can’t stop seeing them everywhere.
The romance was also very… basic. We knew Isobel and Rook were going to be the romance in this book but I wasn’t sold on their love. It wasn’t exactly instalove since they had spent weeks together (admittedly not really speaking the whole time…) and but it FELT like instalove. I don’t even have a beef with instalove because I believe you can know a person is who you’re meant to be with when you meet them (especially since my husband and I felt that way when we met) but it just felt tropey and I didn’t feel like these characters had a chemistry. They DID have some good banter and then it disappeared, and I was left wanting so much more. The interactions started out somewhat strong, creating that chemistry between them, and then it was “Woe is me, I’m in love with you!” and “Oops, I’m in love with you too!” and I didn’t understand where that love came from. I wasn’t feeling it and it’s a lot to go from not knowing anyone at all and then willing to sacrifice your life for someone many times over. Just because you say two characters are in love doesn’t mean we’re all going to believe it. I didn’t feel that love emanating from the pages or written in the little nuances (something that Rainbow Rowell does AMAZINGLY well — that has nothing to do with fantasy but she is the queen at writing the things that can’t be put into words). I just felt like I was TOLD a lot of things instead of seeing them.
The ending also happened too quickly and easily and I was not a fan. It seemed to happen so simply and was so anticlimactic. After this lead up to a super-villain, I wasn’t feeling the villainy and POOF everything was okay. The ending felt rushed and easy and I didn’t think it wrapped up well. The book closes with finality but also leaves an opening for a series. I’m guessing it was written in case the reactions were good for more books to be added on, or just for readers to be left thinking about the world to come. This book just left me with so many QUESTIONS.
The TL;DR version is that this book could have been so much MORE and it just wasn’t for me. Especially with the hype and so many five-star reviews, I was expecting a loooot more that just wasn’t there so I’m perfectly okay with being the black sheep on not enjoying this one like everyone else. I’m just not seeing what other readers did.
Kept Me Hooked On: Fae, I guess. I used to not like faerie stories at all. Then I loved some. And then I hated some again. I like trying new things and continuing to seek out new and exciting books.
Left Me Wanting More: Everything. I just felt like this could have been so much MORE. I probably wouldn’t have been as disappointed as I am if it hadn’t been so hyped up.
Get a second opinion
I wouldn’t personally recommend it based on my experience and yet still… people loved it! I guess go check out your regular trusted reviewers on this one!