A River Enchanted by Rebecca Ross – ARC Review

Thanks to the author/the publisher for providing me with this book!

Themes: fantasy, adult

The synopsis

Jack Tamerlaine hasn’t stepped foot on Cadence in ten long years, content to study music at the mainland university. But when young girls start disappearing from the isle, Jack is summoned home to help find them. Enchantments run deep on Cadence: gossip is carried by the wind, plaid shawls can be as strong as armor, and the smallest cut of a knife can instill fathomless fear. The capricious spirits that rule the isle by fire, water, earth, and wind find mirth in the lives of the humans who call the land home. Adaira, heiress of the east and Jack’s childhood enemy, knows the spirits only answer to a bard’s music, and she hopes Jack can draw them forth by song, enticing them to return the missing girls.

As Jack and Adaira reluctantly work together, they find they make better allies than rivals as their partnership turns into something more. But with each passing song, it becomes apparent the trouble with the spirits is far more sinister than they first expected, and an older, darker secret about Cadence lurks beneath the surface, threatening to undo them all.

The review

When I received this ARC, I had forgotten that I had requested it and thus went into it without knowing much about the plot. If you are a fan of Scotland like me, go and read it since the world is heavily inspired by this beautiful country and its culture!

We follow an interesting cast of characters, all adults, that are trying to go on with their lives in a troubled time since young girls are being kidnapped. Our hero, Jack, is called back on the island that saw him growing up to try to solve this mystery with Adaira, the heiress of the East. Thus, the reader is discovering the island and its inhabitants at the same time as Jack is rediscovering them. I particularly enjoyed all the parts linked to the different spirits, which seemed to be really in line with the atmosphere of the book and the one you can find in Scotland (especially with its numerous ghosts). The pace is (very) slow but in a quiet, cosy way and did not disturb me while I am usually easily bored with this type of rhythm. It really left room in the narration for the different stories of the characters and for their relationships to evolve as they would in real life. The mystery is in the same vein, long to be solved and simple but complex enough to keep the reader’s attention.

Among all these quiet elements one thing made my blood boil and shows the quality of the writing style: people. The way humans behave and their prejudices are wonderfully shown in this book, with people worshipping you (literally) one day and hating you the next. I was particularly disgusted by the islanders’ attitude towards Jack, who left the isle because they basically bullied him while he was only a kid, and now are welcoming him and even considering him as their property just because he has something they want…

In brief: this book will remain in my memory as a quiet, peaceful one with a dose of mystery. I am intrigued to see how the plot twist of the end will be solved in the sequel and hope to see more of the world of the spirits.

My rating: 4/5

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