Genre: Fantasy Age Range: Adult Star Rating: 5 stars Series: yes - first book in duology
Enchantments run deep on the magical Isle of Cadence: gossip is carried by the wind, plaid shawls can be as strong as armour, and the smallest cut of a knife can instil fathomless fear. The capricious spirits that live there find mirth in the lives of the humans who call the land home, but that mischief turns to malevolence as girls begin to go missing.
Adaira, heiress of the east, knows the spirits only answer to a bard’s music, enticing them to return the missing girls. But there’s only one bard capable of drawing the spirits forth by song: her childhood enemy Jack Tamerlaine.
He hasn’t stepped foot on Cadence in ten long years, content to study music at the mainland university, but as Jack and Adaira reluctantly work together it becomes apparent the trouble with the spirits is far more sinister than first thought and an older, darker secret lurks beneath the surface, threatening to undo them all.
Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.
There is always a certain worry when going in to a highly anticipated book that it will fail to live up to your expectations. Luckily, A RIVER ENCHANTED did not.
It is a stunning book, gorgeously written and full of little details about the plants and food that really bring the Scottish-inspired world to life. It has a slow, stately feel to it as well as making it feel like you’re watching events on an island that doesn’t quite exist – but instead lurks behind a veil of magic.
I loved the magic system. Secrets can be woven into cloth to make it into armour. Blades that cut you might steal or voice or force you to speak truth until the wound heals. And each act of creating something magical comes with a deep cost to the user, stealing health and vitality from them.
There are also legends and superstitions woven into daily life, and it’s the details like that which really make a world feel real, seeing how the magic around them affects every day life. Leaving plates of food out, closing doors so the wind that carries words can’t hear. The role of the wind in communication is so fun!
The main character of this book is Jack. The bulk of the narration, especially in the first section, is from him as he returns to the isle and begins to settle in to life there. Adaira doesn’t actually narrate until section two – until then, she’s seen through the eyes of Jack, Torin, and Sidra. It meant that you already had an opinion of her that her chapters challenge, revealing the person underneath the walls erected.
Sidra is a healer, and married to Torin, who’s a guard. While Jack and Adaira are childhood enemies to lovers, Sidra and Torin are a couple who married mostly for convenience to raise Torin’s child from his previous marriage. I loved seeing that relationship develop as they come from such different mindsets, and have to find a place to meet and understand the other before they can be open enough about feelings.
While the ending isn’t really a cliff-hanger, it’s certainly a “I need the next book!” ending. The isle’s been turned on its head in many ways, forcing the characters into roles and events they would not have chosen. There are a lot of interesting promises about what will come in the next instalment.
Read my reviews of other books by Rebecca Ross:
The Elements of Cadence (this series):
- A FIRE ENDLESS (#2)
The Queen’s Rising:
- THE QUEEN’S RISING (#1)
- THE QUEEN’S RESISTANCE (#2)