I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books on September 26th 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
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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.
I loved the world Margaret Rogerson built in this book! I’m torn about the it being a stand alone because, while it’s nice not to be starting a new series, I still wanted more time in this world. I haven’t read many book about fae and I loved the mythology surrounding the fae in this book – from their royal court system to their personalities to how their magic worked. The fae in this book are hideous beneath their glamours, are very vain and love beautiful things, and interestingly have no capacity for human emotion. Since I haven’t read many other books about fae I’m not really sure how unique or different this fae mythology is from traditional fae (if there is such a thing?). In a way, they reminded me of the elves from Lord of the Rings – tall, beautiful people with little emotion, who also live forever. Despite that similarity, I found this fae world to be a refreshing change for me when it comes to fanatasy reads and I really, really enjoyed this world.
I really loved Isobel as a main character – I found her to be both smart and funny. I loved that she was was an artist – while it’s not a super unique trait for a YA main character, it’s still not a trait I’ve read a lot of personally. Isobel also has a strong love for her family and doesn’t let forget about them throughout everything she goes through. I really enjoyed the romance in this book as well. I can see that some readers would peg this romance as insta-love, but honestly I didn’t feel that way. Isobel does go through a phase of infatuation early on in the story, but afterwards she realizes what she is feeling isn’t love. I’m also just a sucker for the forbidden romance trope, so there’s that. Also, Isobel has two twin sisters that used to be goats – that’s right, I said used to be goats! Those two were so funny and had me LOLing multiple times throughout the book.
Plot and Writing
While this is definitely more of a plot driven book than character, I wouldn’t call it an action packed book. Surprisingly, I still had a hard time putting this book down! There was enough happening to keep me engaged and I loved this world and characters so much that I couldn’t get enough of it. I really loved the writing style in this book. The writing was descriptive enough to provide beautiful imagery without being overly flowery. This book had a very magical and fairy tale feel to it, which I loved! This fairy tale feel also made the book feel very autumn to me, even though only part of the story takes place in an autumn setting. The main reason this book isn’t 5/5 stars is that I never felt emotionally attached to the characters or the story, but I think that emotional detachment adds to the atmosphere and fairy tale feel.
Overall, this book really surprised me with how much I enjoyed it. I especially loved the world building, but the writing style and the characters were fantastic as well. This book has a strong fairy tale or folksy feel to it and is very atmospheric – perfect for reading in the fall! While this is currently a stand alone, I definitely wouldn’t mind more stories in this world. I’m definitely looking forward to any future books of Margaret Rogerson’s! I recommend this book to readers who enjoy a fairy tale-esque story involving fae.