An Enchantment of Ravens & Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson

I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

An Enchantment of Ravens & Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret RogersonAn Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson
Published by Margaret K. McElderry on September 26, 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 300
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
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A skilled painter must stand up to the ancient power of the faerie courts—even as she falls in love with a faerie prince—in this gorgeous debut novel.

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. 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—and that love violates the fair folks’ ruthless laws. Now both of their lives are forfeit, unless Isobel can use her skill as an artist to fight 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.

Before I get down to it, I want to be clear that An Enchantment of Ravens and Sorcery of Thorns are both standalones. They’re not even companions; they take place in completely different fantasy worlds. I’m reviewing them in the same post because I read them right around the same time and because I felt like it. Don’t get it twisted.

Because I was a bit late to reading An Enchantment of Ravens (my bad), I’d seen mixed reviews roll in, and I can see why this book has been a bit divisive. Books about the fae, in general, seem to be a bit divisive, because I think they’re a fantasy creature that can easily rub people the wrong way, and Rogerson’s fae are so fae. They’re eternal beings, perfectly beautiful (at least their glamours on) and devoid of feeling who get their entertainment from messing with humans. Given that An Enchantment of Ravens mostly only has the fae as characters, you’ve got to be able to deal with that.

After a couple of chapters, I was hooked, though admittedly not by the romance or characterization, the elements of a book which typically draw me in, but by the writing, the plotting, and the action. This book has some battle scenes which are decidedly gross but in a way that didn’t cross the line to unreadable but made me go “OH DAMN”. The world building’s also really cool, with elements I recognize from other faerie stories, like the four seasonal courts, but so much that was absolutely unique to Rogerson’s world.

Isobel may be a teenager, but she’s the most talented portrait artist in hundreds of years, a skill which has drawn dangerous, but useful, fae patrons to the door of her cottage. I loved the way the book talked about her art, the way she would phase out not taking in anything but her work. It was a little hard to believe some of the events and how they played out, but Rogerson explains everything by the end in a way that I thought was pretty brilliant and unexpected.

For me, the romance held the book back a bit. I didn’t unship Isobel and Rook, a faerie prince, of course. At their best, they have some cute banter back and forth, actually, and I wanted to root for them with all of my shippy heart. Mostly, Rook’s back story kept me from truly investing. He’s unlike all the other fae, aka he got dem feels, but there’s no real explanation why, other than that he had fallen in love with a human before. Without understanding why he has this capacity the rest do not, their connection felt like instalove, even though it’s not really, and Rook felt speshul. It wasn’t enough to ruin the book for me at all, but if I’d really bought their connection, I think this could have been a favorite for me. Though, I will say that I did love that Isobel saw Rook beneath the glamour, and though his true face was disgusting initially, she did fall for him as he was and not for his guise.

On a somewhat related note, I wish that March and May, goats turned into little human girls, who Isobel is raising as sisters, had either not been in the book or been in the book more. Isobel’s family doesn’t have any arc; they’re just there in the opening chapters and threatened from a distance throughout the book. I love the concept of those little goat girls, and their scenes are funny, but I wish they’d ultimately added to the narrative.

An Enchantment of Ravens is a good debut, one which hints at how much I’m going to end up loving Rogerson’s books as she just gets better as a writer from here. (This theory was instantly borne out because I read Sorcery of Thorns right after and looooved it.)

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

An Enchantment of Ravens & Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret RogersonSorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson
Published by Margaret K. McElderry on June 4, 2019
Genres: Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 464
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
AmazonThe Book DepositoryAudible

All sorcerers are evil. Elisabeth has known that as long as she has known anything. Raised as a foundling in one of Austermeer’s Great Libraries, Elisabeth has grown up among the tools of sorcery—magical grimoires that whisper on shelves and rattle beneath iron chains. If provoked, they transform into grotesque monsters of ink and leather. She hopes to become a warden, charged with protecting the kingdom from their power.

Then an act of sabotage releases the library’s most dangerous grimoire. Elisabeth’s desperate intervention implicates her in the crime, and she is torn from her home to face justice in the capital. With no one to turn to but her sworn enemy, the sorcerer Nathaniel Thorn, and his mysterious demonic servant, she finds herself entangled in a centuries-old conspiracy. Not only could the Great Libraries go up in flames, but the world along with them.

As her alliance with Nathaniel grows stronger, Elisabeth starts to question everything she’s been taught—about sorcerers, about the libraries she loves, even about herself. For Elisabeth has a power she has never guessed, and a future she could never have imagined.

One of my sometimes shameful bookish habits is that I don’t always read book descriptions, and I definitely don’t read them before I open up a book. If I’m super confused I’ll venture back to try to figure out where the book is going, but in general I like to be surprised and not potentially get spoiled by jacket copy. With a book like Sorcery of Thorns, I got the utmost joy of discovering that, without knowing it, I’d picked up such a Christina book. It’s like Rogerson looked inside my head to see what would get me excited and wrote all of that: badass librarians, talking books, wizards, an adorable demon, and a snarky ship of precious.

Reading two Rogerson books back to back made a couple of things stand out as being part of her specific style. 1) She’s great at coming up with unique fantasy worlds. In both cases, I think the scope was a bit narrow and there’s not much sense of what’s outside of the picture, but the picture itself is detailed and magical. 2) She does a stellar job of writing about characters who do dark things or just are dark while making them super fucking lovable but not invalidating any of their darkness. I love when authors can pull that off, because so often it’s like “look at this scary badass jk he’s a fluffy bunny” but Rogerson’s characters stay kinda scary but also you want to squeeze their badass cheeks.

The world in Sorcery of Thorns has magic because wizards summoned demons to share their magic. Wizards back in the day wrote a bunch of books of spellcraft and wizard knowledge and such, and those books are magic af and super dangerous, so they’re kept in the kingdom’s Great Libraries, protected and guarded by badass librarians. Like, certain of these librarians, the Wardens, are actually weapons masters, because these magic books can actually turn into monsters in some circumstances, monsters which will absolutely eat the populace. I pictured it like whole massive libraries full of books like in the Restricted section of the library at Hogwarts, only the books are MEANER.

FYI: if you’re one of those people who loves when the setting itself is a character, you should absolutely check this book out, because the Libraries and the books and the wizard’s mansions all have personalities of their own, and it’s awesome.

The heroine, Elisabeth, is an apprentice librarian. Unlike most apprentices, she didn’t start when she was 13, because she was left as a baby on the steps of one of the Great Libraries. Her dream is to be a Warden one day, but for now she snoops around the library to discover all of its secrets, even though sometimes that gets her into trouble.

I’m going to keep this kind of short because I don’t want to give away the plot, which I thought was so awesome in the way that it rolled out. What I will say, though, is that I looooove the ship of Nathaniel and Elisabeth. They’re so crotchety with each other but also such a great team, and once he loosens up a bit they banter like a dream. On top of that awesomeness, the characterization across the board is so much stronger in Sorcery of Thorns than An Enchantment of Ravens. I loved Elisabeth’s best friend and I had so many feelings about Silas, who manages to be terrifying but also a sweet cinnamon roll all at once.

Sorcery of Thorns rocked my nerd girl socks. If Hermione Granger were going to read a fantasy novel, this would be her first pick. (TBH, Hermione would read nonfiction ad nauseum, but still.) I’m preordering my copy right now, because I need this pretty (and holy shit that cover right?) on my shelves.

P.S. Sorry for flailing about a book that doesn’t come out until June, but it’s worth the wait!

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

3 responses to “An Enchantment of Ravens & Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson”

  1. I want to read both of these so bad! Especially Sorcery of Thorns because my gosh that cover is beautiful. Great reviews!
    Teresa Mary Rose recently posted…On My Shelf: Unhooked by: Lisa MaxwellMy Profile

  2. I loved An Enchantment of Ravens more than you, but then I read Sorcery of Thorns and IT WAS EVEN BETTER. I loved the library and the books that have their own personality. AND SILAS. YES, he was such an interesting character. I too will be purchasing this one since I only currently have a copy of the e-arc. I enjoyed reading your flailing review. 🙂

  3. Oh mannnnnn you make Sorcery of Thorns sound SO AMAZING!!! I still need to read An Enchantment of Ravens as well but I think it’s cool that you can definitely see the author’s style and improvement from the first book to the next. It’s funny, I love reading jacket copy even if it does spoil. I get more anxious if I go into a book not knowing anything haha.
    Morgan @ The Bookish Beagle recently posted…Top Ten Tuesday: Books I LOVED With Fewer Than 2,000 Ratings on GoodreadsMy Profile

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