If you’ve spent like 42 seconds with me in the last year you will know how absolutely excited I am for this book. Did it measure up?
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.
This is probably my favorite read of the entire year. I fell so hard for this world and everyone within it. It was a fantastic debut to the published world.
The darker turn for Fae in this novel was utterly refreshing and deliciously. Fae usually have absolutely everything they could ever want: exquisite looks, more money they could ever spend, and more power than anyone should ever possess. But the Fae in this world are not what they seem at all. They’re tricky and wicked creatures, one you have to watch every single word with. They fit more with the older tales of the Fae.
My favorite part about these Fae were the fact they couldn’t do anything for themselves. They possessed all the magic in the world for spells and sorcery yet they couldn’t do something as simple as making a piece of toast. They were completely dependent on humans for everything, from their clothing to their pastries. The other thing that was delicious about these creatures was the fact they were glamoured the entire time. They were not gorgeous, human-looking creatures with pointy ears but rather dark and disgusting monsters. Terrifying creatures with long claws. Another thing interesting about these Fae were they all had a flaw. From humanity in their eyes to too long fingers, their glamours were never perfect. There was always something wrong with them, something almost human.
The journey through the land of the Fae was exciting and utterly terrifying. This book reads very much like an older fairy tale. The gritty kind where the victim tricks their captors and some limb loss is involved. Rook was absolutely swoon-worthy and the relationship between him and Isobel was complex and wonderful. Of course, there was the usual banter and flirting, but Isobel questions her feelings more than once and why she feels that way, challenging the insta-love narrative that is the usual of these stories.
If you love fae, swoon-worthy princes, grand journeys, or gritty fairy tales make sure you pick this one up. I suggest reading it when the leaves change so you can feel as if Rook is right next to you.