Hardcover, 300 pages
Source: I own it
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.
Why do we desire, above all other things, that which has the greatest power to destroy us?
A little backstory first: I am SUPER picky about fae books. In fact, there’s only two I can think of that I’ve genuinely enjoyed: The Iron Fey by Julie Kagawa and the Fever series by Karen Marie Moning. Before this book came out, the hype was unreal. I was DYING to get my hands on it, and the ARC reviews were positively glowing. Fast forward to publication date, and some not-so-great reviews start floating around. I start hearing terrible things about the book. One of the most terrible (for me, at least)? It was compared to ACOTAR, which I hated. I almost didn’t even want to read it anymore! Going in, I was 95% certain I wasn’t going to like it, that it wasn’t going to be a Jessi book at all. But I needed to see what the fuss was about.
The result? I was pleasantly surprised, because I actually really enjoyed it! I think having super low expectations really helped me in this case. And honestly, it’s not something I would have ever thought I’d like. I hate instalove, and this one has it. But for some reason, it worked.
I think 99% of my enjoyment of this book was because it reminded me very strongly of Julie Kagawa’s Iron Fey series. Not to say that it’s a cheap rip-off – while it feels incredibly similar, it’s still its own story. But Rook reminded me of Ash, and reading this book reminded me how freakin’ much I love the Iron Fey!
And I quite liked the story and characters! I was never bored, and I enjoyed Isobel’s voice. She’s practical and a bit snarky, and I found I connected to her quite easily! Rook was a swoon-worthy love interest, too. I loved him! He’s kind of cliche – a fae prince that’s supposed to be aloof and unfeeling falls for a human (actually there were a lot of cliches in this book but again, it worked for me) but I loved him anyway! He felt very real to me.
In fact, one of the things I loved most about this book was that it felt very vivid and realistic, like it could actually happen somewhere. Whimsy felt like a real place. I found myself wanting to see autumn in Whimsy for myself! The setting was incredibly vivid in my mind. Rogerson’s beautiful descriptions painted a very clear picture – a Craft of her own!
Writing style: 4/5
Overall rating: 4/5