Estimated Review Reading Time: (With Synopsis:) 00:03:36 (Without Synopsis:) 00:02:35
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.
● In the beginning, it feels like it resembles ACOTAR way too much, but I promise, it doesn’t. It is waayy more than it looks at first. The worldbuilding gets more and more originality later on. In fact, I only found out it was a standalone after I finished it and I was quite surprised, because it feels like it has potential to be one of those capital-F capital-S Fantasy Series.
●THOSE CHAPTER ENDINGS. I’M STILL TRAUMATIZED.
● Isobel’s character development was slow, but in the ending she completely blew my mind to tiiiiny little pieces, and heck, I like the fact she tries to listen to her head over her heart. And has a billion uncertainties just like any of us. She stood her ground and was not a weak swooning maiden. Her art is a part of her soul, and I like how she wouldn’t give it up for anything. Certainly not for the Perfect And Insanely Gorgeous And Of Course Powerful Male Fairy She Met Like, 2 Minutes Ago(TM).
●BUUUT generally, you don’t just meet the love of your entire life at 17 Heck, at 18 I’m practically still figuring out how a spoon works. But this is fantasy, so meh.
●Here’s the thing, Isobel is not your regular good old supersmart MC, she’s crafty (*wink wink*) and, the best word for it, really, is ‘clever’.
●This book sometimes surprises me with how deep it can be. Just read this and you’ll get it:
” But isn’t absurdity part of being human? We aren’t ageless creatures who watch centuries pass from afar. Our worlds are small, our lives are short, and we can only bleed a little before we fall.”
I NEEEED this as a bookmark. This is, like, my new favorite quote. It’s official. Somebody just appreciate it with me or I’ll, like, turn into a virus and infect 86% of humanity. How’s that for a threat 😂
●I love love looove how this book is a fantasy where the real magic lies not with the fairies, but in human art. Any art; music, cooking, sewing, writing, drawing… is detrimental and deadly to fairies, or ‘Fair Folk’. It says something, the fact that only fiction can teach us that there is magic in small things we do every day that we don’t notice. Human art counteracts human mortality.
“Gadfly’s pale gaze flicked to me. “Make no mistake, it’s a small price to pay for the power and beauty of immortality. Yet it does make one wonder, doesn’t it? Why do we desire, above all other things, that which has the greatest power to destroy us?””
This reminds of a certain smol something President Snow said in Mockingjay Part I, anyone xD ? No ?
●But perhaps the most remarkable thing about it is how, unlike many fantasy books, it certainly does not take the subject of immortality lightly. It’s not like ‘Oh, him ? He’s like, you know, immortal. Like, regular everyday stuff.’ There are certainly no ”Mary Sue”s here. Something dark and horrifying lies behind the fae’s immortality, and I absolutely love how eerie it felt. I didn’t expect it, but I’d recommend this as a fall read, even though horrifying you is definitely not the whole point of it.
“No. You surpass us all.” Beside me she looked colorless and frail. “You are like a living rose among wax flowers. We may last forever, but you bloom brighter and smell sweeter, and draw blood with your thorns.”
●All in all, I immensely enjoyed this book and highly recommend it if you’re looking for a swoon-worthy standalone fantasy romance with great worldbuilding, action, and a shock at every chapter.