Isobel is an artistic prodigy with a dangerous set of clients: the sinister fair folk, immortal creatures who cannot bake bread 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, Rook spirits her away to his kingdom to stand trial for her crime. But something is seriously wrong in his world, and they are attacked from every side. With Isobel and Rook depending on each other 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.
Isobel is an absurdly talented painter and fair folk can’t get enough of her work. Isobel is a strong character who knows what she wants and what she is worth. That’s fun to read in a female character. She doesn’t experience doubt over her skills, and she uses those skills to get what she needs to help her family.
I loved Isobel and Rook’s relationship. Rook especially was quite funny as he experienced feelings for Isobel. When Isobel realizes Rook is in love with her, he says:
Somehow I’ve grown fond of your irritating questions, and your short legs, and your accidental attempts to kill me! Now stop making me feel things. I must think!
The book really does a great job exploring how lacking emotions and desiring human Craft makes the fair folk act the way they do. They are alien and cruel, but can also do good things and care about people in their own way.
In the end, Isobel and Rook found what they wanted, and I didn’t feel like their solution was forced for the sake of the story. It’s nice when a book isn’t ruined by a crappy ending!
I totally recommend this book if you’re into fantasy novels with fair folk. I felt like the characters were funny and realistic. I also enjoyed that this wasn’t set up as a trilogy like so many are these days. You could just have a fun read and see the end of the story in one book. Definitely pick it up!