Review posted August 8, 2023
Simon & Schuster Audio, 2017. 8 hours, 45 minutes.
Review written April 20, 2023, from a library eaudiobook.
2023 Sonderbooks Stand-out:
#6 Teen Speculative Fiction
I listened to this book because I have so enjoyed Margaret Rogerson's other books. We chose Vespertine as our Cybils YA Speculative Fiction winner in 2022. This one had me riveted. It was one of those audiobooks where I had to remind myself they wouldn't have published the book if everyone you care about dies -- or would they have? Yet I couldn't quite see how they'd get out of the situation.
Isobel is 17 years old and already a talented portrait painter. She paints portraits for the fair folk. They pay with enchantments, and she is very careful in wording her requests, because she knows the fairies will twist her words if she lets them.
The Fae are fascinated with the crafts that mortals make, including painting, because they are incapable of crafting anything and will crumble to dust if they try. The Fae also do not know human emotion. So when Isobel is painting the Autumn Prince and notices something off about him -- she then realizes there's human sorrow showing on his face.
But when he discovers that she's painted this for all to see, he is furious and convinced she's sabotaged him. He drags her off to the autumnlands to stand trial -- and her adventures begin. No mortal has ever returned from the realm of the fair folk -- at least not as a mortal. And the Wild Hunt comes after her, and she clears up some misunderstandings with the prince -- and they find themselves in danger of breaking the Good Law, which decrees that mortals and fair folk may not fall in love with one another, or they must die.
This tale is beautifully told. I always like slow-burn romances. By the time they learn to trust each other and are in danger of falling in love, the reader can understand how it happened, despite the dreadful consequences.