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.
GUYS, okay I know basically all I ever seem to do anymore is gush over fantasy novels–but also. Like. Few things can pull me out of an anxious funk better than some fae and castles. If you throw in super cool shape-shifting princes, and ninja painter heroines, YOU GOT A PARTY.
Needless to say, I liked this book a lot. I had heard a lot of hype about it, and saw that it was available online for free for an evening in December. Thus, I decided to give it a chance. I read this book in a less than three hours, not wanting to take a break for anything other than the occasional snack. I was captivated.
In all seriousness, this is another fine example of what I love in a fantasy novel. The descriptions were vivid and gorgeous, providing some really fluid world building. Within the first chapter, I had a solid idea of the social structure of their world, but was still left with enough questions that I still wanted to keep reading to learn about their people and rules.
I am a sucker for good books with hidden moral dilemma allowing for pretentious discourse. This novel left some really interesting food for thought with the use of “Craft” and it’s influence on “humans” and humanity (as well as just, how important feels and vulnerability are). This story had some fantastic commentary on consumerism and society as a whole, and really just made me think. That, plus the fact the plot and world were fascinating, and I could not pull myself away.
Also, the characters were lovely! They were all really dynamic, and this book officially holds one of my top five YA OTPs. The banter and dialogue were exceptionally natural and captivating, and allowed me to get to know the characters while they did. Each character was written in such a realistic way that allowed the story to feel really immersive. Although the atmosphere was clearly a fantasy novel, it felt like this adventure could be happening right now in our world.
I really adored this book, and I wish I had stumbled across ti sooner!
5 out of 5 stars!
(PS–can we just talk about this cover?? I adore it!)