An Enchantment of Ravens (AEOR) is a gorgeously written young adult fantasy novel by Margaret Rogerson. She is also the author of Sorcery of Thorns, which I plan to read in the coming months.
Just like some of the other books I’ve reviewed recently, AEOR was another book I’d ordered during my February Book Outlet haul. I’ve since placed my second order with the online retailer—seven more books to read! I’ll make sure to share my latest Book Outlet experience here on the blog.
Unlike other fantasy books I’ve read lately, AEOR is a standalone novel. There are positives and negatives to that. On the plus side, the main story never drags on, its 300+ pages managed to keep my attention without wasting too much time on side story and other details.
But on the other hand, I really enjoyed the characters. It sucks sitting down to read the book and realizing that’s all there’ll be, and I wasn’t ready to let go of Isobel and Rook.
An Enchantment of Ravens summary
Like many YA novels, AEOR is written in first-person. We experience the story from the perspective of Isobel, the teenage human protagonist. She is an artist, specializing in painting oil portraits of the fair folk’s most prestigious citizens—like the spring and autumn princes, Gadfly and Rook, respectively.
In An Enchantment of Ravens, artists, writers, chefs, designers—anyone who creates anything—is exclusively human. The immortal fair folk don’t have the ability to create in this sense. If they do, they will die. This gift of creation is called Craft, and only humans can do it.
In reading the story, it felt like the concept of Craft could be compared to some trendy retro pastime. Fair folk find themselves enamored by the talent it takes to write or make art or what have you. It feels almost like an underground movement, like hipsters baking bread from scratch and cast iron, then sharing the finished product via perfectly laid out photoshoots on Instagram.
I enjoyed this aspect of Rogerson’s world. The fair folk have their magic—shapeshifting, healing, seeing the future, manipulating the landscape—and humans have their Craft. The immortal fair folk are as enthralled with the concept of Craft as the humans are of magic.
It introduced a fresh take on human ability that so many YA fantasy novels lack these days. You see, most excel at showing the drawbacks and weaknesses of being human. AEOR illustrates the beauty and allure of it.
So, with all that in mind, let’s get into my review of the book.
Book review: An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson
An Enchantment of Ravens begins in a town called Whimsy. And in Whimsy, every day is summer, its seasons never changing. We meet Isobel who lives at home with her Aunt Emma and twin “sisters” March and May (they’re actually goats who were turned into girls). We learn Isobel’s parents are both dead, and that a creature called a thane killed them several years ago.
In present day, Isobel makes a living painting the portraits of rich fair folk. She has the uncanny ability to capture raw human emotion in any aspect of her subjects. It is this gift that gets her in trouble with the Autumn Prince, Rook. She paints him with mortal sorrow in his eyes and all the fair folk turn against him, using her depiction as proof that he is unfit to rule the autumnlands.
Then what happens? Rook gets pissed (blaming Isobel for his political troubles), returns to Whimsy, and kidnaps her to try and restore his standing amongst the fair folk.
Now, I have to admit, the whole premise of the story is a bit weak in my opinion. But it grows on you. Ultimately, it’s about the relationship between Isobel and Rook.
There’s a problem though: the Alder King, the immortal ruler, outlawed love between humankind and fair folk. Those who do fall in love with one another are punished by death. However, if lucky, the human can drink from the Green Well and become immortal, thus sparing both their lives. The catch here is they’ll no longer be able to do Craft. Over time, they’ll forget the feelings and memories associated with Craft, and eventually, lose human emotion altogether. It’s an interesting conflict to have, one that brings a wealth of depth and meaning to the story.
Margaret Rogerson’s AEOR is worth the read
I very much enjoyed An Enchantment of Ravens. Rogerson’s writing was breathtaking at times, colorful and poignant. Some of her prose reminded me of Sarah J Maas’s A Court of Thorns and Roses. The protagonist there, Feyre Archeron, is also a painter. And the way both authors conveyed emotion and setting with the written word, like painting a picture, suited both main characters perfectly.
As a character, I found Isobel shrewd and likable. Many times in YA books, characters tend to be naive or so stubbornly determined to accomplish their goal that they endanger everyone around them and make one bad decision after another. Isobel questioned everything and everyone, constantly searching for hidden meanings and things left unsaid.
In some of the reviews I saw, readers complained about Isobel losing her head over Rook. Let’s be real for a second. Most teenage girls are going to lose their heads when a hot, powerful, immortal prince comes strutting their way, brooding. They just are. Seventeen-year-old me totally would, and I’m not ashamed to admit that. It’s realistic.
Critics aside, I gave An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson 5 stars on Goodreads. If you enjoy well-written innocent, playful romances with a dash of action (similar to Holly Black or Victoria Aveyard), crack this one open, sip your favorite cup of tea, and enjoy.