Book Review: An Enchantment of Ravens

aeorMy to-be-read pile is ever growing, but I finally got around to reading An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson, which was recommended to me by my friend Cecelia (ceceliareads on IG). She said it was a perfect book for autumn, so I bought it sometime in the summer and made myself wait until October to pick it up! I mean if there’s any way to get me to want something, mention it is somehow tied to autumn and I’ll probably run out right away to acquire it. I am an autumn magpie. An Enchantment of Ravens is about a young artist who paints portraits of fair folk. It’s dangerous business as fair folk are notoriously capricious and even when they owe you a favor as payment, they are likely to pay you in caprice and cruelty. Isobel paints herself into trouble with her client the autumn prince—Rook—and is spirited away to the fairy realm to be punished for her perceived crime. Personally, my biggest crux with the book has nothing to do with the book’s merit or writing, but rather a bit of the mythology. I love reading re-imaginings of fairytales, not literal re-imaginings of popular stories (like Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty), but rather novels based in the realm of fairytales featuring familiar archetypes but told in a fresh way through a new character that is placed into this magical realm. As authors work their way through familiar legends and folklore there is a necessary re-working or developing of that folklore in their own unique vision; I mean it’s easy to say “she was taken away by the fairies” but what does that mean? What are the fairies really like? What do they look like, what do they eat, how do they take people away, what is the journey like? This is what is so fascinating to me of modern re-tellings of these familiar folklore stories, we start to put flesh and blood to hazy mental pictures. It’s also where I was slightly disappointed with An Enchantment of Ravens; it’s a personal disappointment because I think her interpretation of the Fairy Realm is actually beautiful and the way she depicts and develops the fair folk is really intriguing on so many levels—it’s just not how I personally envision the fair folk. So, my only real critique is that the fictional world in An Enchantment of Ravens differs from the fictional world dancing around in my head... Aside from that detail I really enjoyed the book and the world it weaved—and in some ways that personal twinge of wrongness made it more enjoyable because then there were unexpected twists and developments I wasn’t able to predict. And the book was exactly as Cecelia promised: a perfect autumn tome.

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