Genre: YA fantasy romance, fae creatures
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.
Rating out of five: two stars
I’ve got mixed feelings on this book, but mostly it felt like fanfiction or a draft nowhere near ready for publishing. I continued reading it to the end because I was waiting for some twist or new creative direction of the book and plot without that ever happening. My biggest problem was bad writing. The last sentence sums it up, because it could’ve been funny, I guess, if it wasn’t how the whole book was written:
And we wouldn’t live happily ever after, because I don’t believe in such nonsense, but we both had a long, bold adventure ahead of us, and a great deal to look forward to at last.
Isobel is interesting as a character that has value to the fae because she’s a great painter, and able to do something they can not, so it starts from a great concept. Especially when she so clearly from the beginning has her boundraries set and keeps a certain distance to her intriguing and dangerous clients. Not that that lasts long. It would’ve been fair to take inspiration from A Court of Mist and Fury, but this book is just nowhere near as good in its execution. Unfortunately, as lovely as the cover is, the story itself became unoriginal and uninteresting pretty quickly.