Clue was more enchanted with the bird outside our window than posing for this. Photo by Kate Ota 2022
A River Enchanted by Rebecca Ross is the second of my Book of the Month books. It’s an adult secondary-world fantasy with clear Scottish inspiration. The main character, Jack, is a bard summoned to his home island to help solve a problem of missing girls. The island is controlled in many ways by elemental spirits, and is cut in half with one side being Jack’s homeland and the other their sworn enemies. Music can summon and control spirits, plaid fabric can be woven with protection, and swords can carry curses. While Jack teams up with his childhood rival, Adaira, to use magic to solve the problem, other characters try a more traditional method of searching. It’s 464 pages, which kept me entertained for a week of commuting. It also clearly set up a at least a sequel.
I like this book’s Scottish influence; it gave it a more specific and interesting atmosphere. Shout out to the author for making me feel like people had an accent without writing an accent. I appreciated the brother and sister relationship between Jack and Frae, which was very sweet and reminded me of how my uncles treat my mom (who is significantly younger than they are).
One the downside, I felt like the enemies-to-lovers arc was a bit too fast. They went from disliking each other to in love for no clear reason. I also disliked some of the reveals at the end of the book. Some things felt like they came out of nowhere, and some felt like I’d been waiting for them to realize this the whole book. None hit the sweet spot of surprising-yet-inevitable.
This book will appeal to fantasy readers who like Scotland and possibly related Gaelic cultures. If you’re big into the power of music, this may also strike a chord with you. It’s not for you if you want a slow burn enemies-to-lovers or if you don’t want to read about kidnapped children.
Have you read A River Enchanted? What did you think of the series of reveals at the end? Did you root for Jack and Adaira? Let’s discuss in the comments!