Rebecca Ross is known for her YA fantasy book, and while this is her first venture in Adult fantasy, it’s also my first experience with her writing. It’s being compared to House of Earth and Blood and The Witch’s Heart, but it really gave me Name of the Wind meets Outlander vibes. It’s not a high fantasy book and has more mythical and folklore components, but for some reason I kept thinking of Name of the Wind as I was reading A River Enchanted.
Told from the viewpoint of five of the characters we meet, we follow Jack Tamerlaine as he’s being summoned back home to Cadence Island. Cadence Island is a mysterious place, that is ruled by the elemental spirits; wind, water, earth, and fire. Home to two clans, the island itself is almost another character in the story, and while it doesn’t have a POV you can feel that it’s alive through the writing. Our main two perspectives though, are from Jack Tamerlaine and Adaira Tamerlaine, future leader of the Tamerlaine clan and the one who summoned Jack back from the mainland. The interaction between the two is interesting, in that they have a bit of a enemies to lovers scenario going on and while their romance/relationship isn’t the central focus of the story, I enjoyed getting to know who these characters were and how their relationship evolves over time. Outside of their POVs, I felt the additional narrators we encounter really enhanced the story. Each of the characters involved had such a deep connection to the Island and unique relationships with their faith in the spirts/fae, which really helped to enhance the story for me.
The plot of the story itself is intriguing. Young girls from the Eastern Clan are going missing and while it’s this mystery that the story revolves around, we quickly find ourselves involved in a couple of different mysteries. To avoid spoilers I won’t go into them, but know that they really work to set this book up to be apart of a series. However, the plot seems like a side story sometimes, which could be due to the pace at which it unravels. At just under 500 pages, this is a longer book, and you can feel the length on occasion. I would have like for it to move just a bit faster or have a bit more action, but it’s not something that I would let hold you back from reading this one. This had the potential to be a five star read for me, but the pacing made me take off half a star.
The ending made me take off another half star because it felt a bit rushed and honestly I kinda hated it. I totally understand setting up the next book in the series, but after all this build up the ending felt rushed and seemed ‘extreme’, I’m not even sure that’s the word I’m looking for.
This is such an atmospheric read and while it’s not action packed, Ross’ writing is whimsical and romantic. . I enjoyed the fae and spirits additions to the story line and the way the magic was structured, really helped to immerse the reader into the lore of the spirts. This isn’t a fast read and I would go in expecting to savor the story.
TW: Kidnapping, Mention of stillbirth/child loss, and violence.
A River Enchanted comes out February 15, 2022. Huge thank you to Harper Voyager for my advanced copy in exchange for my honest opinion. If you liked this review please let me know either by commenting below or by visiting my instagram @speakingof_books.