Review: A River Enchanted - Rebecca Ross
Genre: Fantasy, Romance
Published: HarperVoyager, February 2022
My Rating: 3.75/5 stars
Marketed as Fantasy-romance for fans of House of Earth and Blood and Uprooted, it was clear from the start that I wasn’t quite the target audience for this book. Nonetheless I really enjoyed this story for what it was, far more than I initially thought I would.
A River Enchanted is a slow-burning Scottish inspired fantasy novel, set on the isle of Candance, where natural magic flows through everything like the titular river. When local girls start to vanish without a trace from their villages, the local clans are quick to point fingers to the trickster spirits and other mystical forces they share their Isle with. Heads soon turn to Adaira, Laird of the East, to ensure the girls safe return. Adaira knows she’ll require the help of a trained bard, capable of drawing the spirits forth by song. Forced to team up with her childhood enemy Jack, this unlikely bard and laird duo to save the lives of the missing girls and the future of their clan.
What I loved:
I was surprised by how deeply I fell in love with the Isle of Cadence from the start. Rebecca Ross’ lush and lyrical writing does a phenomenal job of painting a vivid and sensory picture of the isle and all its inhabitants. I’m an absolute sucker for subtle, naturalistic magic, especially when it takes inspiration from Scottish, Irish or British folklore. In that sense, the world reminded me a bit of one of my all-time-favourite fantasy novels The Queens of Innis Lear, which obviously is a huge compliment coming from me. I genuinely wish there were more Scottish inspired fantasy-novels out there, and I look forward to spending more time within this world as Ross continues this series. If only to explore this world more in depth, I will absolutely pick up the sequel as soon as it’s released.
If you want to fully immerse yourself in the Scottish vibes of this book, the audiobook might be a great choice as well. I personally combined the physical book (which happens to be gorgeous to look at as well!), and the audiobook. The narrator did an amazing job bringing the characters to life in my mind and their Scottish accent truly fit the story perfectly.
What I didn’t love:
As I mentioned: I’m not a big fantasy-romance fan, and I’m especially not a fan of the hate-to-love trope. The switch often feels too forced and unearned to me, and at times, this too was the case for the relationship between Jack and Adaira. I liked both of their characters, and felt like they were well developed, but at times their feelings for each other seemed to come on a bit too fast to me. Again: this is a recurring peeve of mine within the genre, so it’s probably more so on me than on the book.
As this is the authors first adult publication, I also feel obligated to say that this still had that distinct YA-feel to me, despite the characters being in their twenties. I hope that, as the series continues and the characters age, this feeling will age along with them.
Find this book on Goodreads.