Genre: YA Fantasy
Rating: 3.5/5 Stars
FROM THE BACK COVER:
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.
Isobel is a portrait painter, loved by the Fair Ones (Fae) for her ability to paint realistic portraits that served to please the ever-growing vanity of the Fair Ones. But when she paints sorrow into the eyes of a prince, Rook (who rules the Autumn Lands), he is furious and whisks her away on an adventure to set his reputation back to normal.
What did I like? The banter. There were several lines in here that were actually pretty funny and felt genuine to the characters and the moment. The beginning of the book is so full of witty lines that I was very excited to see where the story went.
Truth be told, I very much wanted to like this book. I found the concept refreshing and the cover gorgeous. But it all fell flat with me. It felt incredibly rushed, which I suppose I should have expected since it is a standalone fantasy novel. It could easily have been expanded into at least one other book, which would have allowed for more character and plot development, which it desperately needed.. The world-building, while a good concept, is vague enough that I constantly had to wonder what in the world was going on. I never fully understand how Whimsy existed or where the fae lands were in relation to the human lands. And I never fully grasped anyone’s motivations throughout the book – they just seemed to be doing things just because the author wanted them to happen.
This book is a serious case of instalove. Isobel and Rook fall in love early on (although they both have moments of denial throughout), but there doesn’t seem to be any reason why. They never really speak to one another. And the conversations they do have are “off-screen” and are mentioned later. The romance just… happens. It felt forced and unnatural, and since their romance and the danger therein was the crux of the whole novel, I couldn’t buy it.
In the end, I did enjoy reading the book but found myself skimming the last few chapters to just figure out what happens. I don’t think it really deserves only 3 stars because I did enjoy Rogerson’s writing style, but I can’t give it 4, either, because of the reasons I’ve explained above. So, 3.5 it is!