Okay you guys. I have feelings, they are incoherent, but I’m going to do my best to put words together in a way that makes sense.
I initially picked up this book because of the cover, I mean….hello?! Then when I read that this is a fae story, I swooped this book up as quickly as humanly possible. I was on the coattails of Sarah J. Maas and her Throne of Glass series, so I was ready to have more fae in my life.
A few reviewers, who I love and trust, had given this book pretty harsh ratings so I kept putting off reading it. I finally decided to give it a try, despite knowing that I might not like it as much as I wanted to.
The story starts off with our main character, Isobel, working her craft and painting portraits of the fae. One aspect of this story that I loved was that everything humans did was considered ‘craft’. Cooking – craft. Sewing – craft. Painting – craft. Writing – craft. While the fae could live forever and wield incredible forest magic, the craft was idolized by these aging and ageless creatures.
The more I read and the older I get, I discover more troupes or character traits that I absolutely love. A few of them were present in this novel, and they worked really well on me. One of them is a character who, for whatever reason, can turn themselves into an animal. I think I love seeing the personality of the character shine through even in animal form. And let’s be honest, I love animals more than people so it helps me fall even more for that character.
I also really love the troupe of seeing all of someone and loving them because of all that they are (all encompassing love, maybe?). Our second main character is a fae prince named Rook. The fae use magic to hide their true forms, which are ghastly, beastly, decaying things. There’s a sense of vulnerability that gets me right in the heart time and time again.
This story also does a wonderful job of reminding the reader why it’s beautiful to be human. Sometimes, fantasy worlds like this do such a great job at convincing the reader that it is better to be the magical creature, instead of the human they were born as. This story does the opposite. Not only that, but it takes time pointing out the flaws in the fae, in their bodies, their food, and the world they live in. It was such a clever way of asking the reader, “Is the grass really greener on the other side, or are we just told it’s greener?”
I can see where the criticism for this story stems from. This story required a lot of suspension of disbelief. At times it was a little too fast paced, some of the escapes towards the end of the novel seemed too easy, and bits of the plot felt unfinished. I can’t explain it (even though I try to in the next paragraph), but despite these flaws, I loved this story regardless.
The writing in this book was transportive and marvelous. The writing is what I fell in love with before I fell in love with the characters. I think for me, that is what helped me overlook some of the issues this book may have had. I put off finishing this book for 5 days, because I just did not want this experience to end. I didn’t care if everyone died or lived at the end, I was so enraptured with this story and this world I was simply happy to be reading.
This truly is a quintessential fairy tale. As I was reading, I was wondering what it would be like to read a retelling of this story. If this would forever hold up as the original work that authors would tear apart and piece back together in their own way. I really adored this, and I’m glad I gave it a try despite some of the reviews I had seen. This is a new favorite.