Book Review: A River Enchanted by Rebecca Ross

Author: Rebecca Ross
Series: Elements of Cadence, 1
Age Category: New Adult/Adult
Publisher: Avon and Harper Voyager
Publish Date: February 15, 2022
Print Length: 480

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Official Synopsis

House of Earth and Blood meets The Witch’s Heart in Rebecca Ross’s brilliant first adult fantasy, set on the magical isle of Cadence where two childhood enemies must team up to discover why girls are going missing from their clan.

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.

With unforgettable characters, a fast-paced plot, and compelling world building, A River Enchanted is a stirring story of duty, love, and the power of true partnership, and marks Rebecca Ross’s brilliant entry on the adult fantasy stage.

My Review

I received a free, digital, advanced reading copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. My review is my own and reflects my honest opinion about this book.

A RIVER ENCHANTED is an atmospheric tale of community, truth, and magic. Set in a land reminiscent of Scotland, Jack returns to Cadence at the behest of his Laird. It doesn’t take long before he realizes a more sinister reason lies beneath his summoning. Jack teams up with Adaira, heiress of the east, to uncover the mysterious disappearance of young girls. Their quest leads them down a road of buried truths, which could change island politics, for better or for worse.

The atmosphere and writing style are reminiscent of HALF SICK OF SHADOWS— ethereal, lyrical, almost like you’re holding your breath waiting for a pin to drop. There were many times I felt at peace reading about the land, the magic system, and trusting in the spirits.

Both Adaira and Jack are strong characters, but I felt Adaira’s development a bit more established than Jack’s. Adaira is adept at both the physical (fighting) and mental (politics) exercises expected of an heiress. She exudes confidence, competence, and independence. Jack begins as disgrunted to return to Cadence because the east never fully accepted him owing to the fact no one knew who his father was. However, once he finds his purpose as Bard of the east, he has a change of heart, which I found a bit abrupt given the slower pace of the story.

Though Jack and, to a lesser extent, Adaira, are the main characters, I was most drawn to Sidra. Her specialty is plants and healing and she possess a sense of calm confidence, soothing those around her. Her faith in the spirits is admirable and I appreciated her inner struggle and growth when traumatic events shake that devotion. However, I think the emotional evolution of her husband, Torin, is the most impressive. Torin is a man of action, always on the move and reticent to show any weakness save for his daughter, Maisie. But as the mystery unfolds must face his fears buried deep within.

The most intriguing piece of this story is the magic system. In the east, use of magic slowly drains the user’s life, but the land is plentiful and mostly balanced. In the west, people can use magic with no consequence, but the land is bleak and weakly supports their community. Another interesting magic component is that the wind carries gossip and stories. So to ensure privacy, any discussion that seeks to maintain secrecy occurs behind closed doors. The winds also see most happenings and, as such, are crucial to unraveling the mystery of the girls’ disappearances. But to speak with them requires Jack’s musical talent and not all of the winds want to be summoned.

Lastly, the motivation behind stealing little girls from the east completely stumped me. As the story progressed, I had a theory, but the ending proved me wrong. However, I think there is more to the story than the big reveal lets on. Obviously I’ll just have to read more about it in the next book.

As the story progresses, the characters wrestle with feelings of inadequacy, what it means to love, and finding and exploring their place or role in the community. A RIVER ENCHANTED is a perfect read for those who want to immerse themselves in a folklore lullaby of enchantment.

Rating: 4
Content warnings: kidnapping, assault, blood
Reading format: Kindle e-book

10 thoughts on “Book Review: A River Enchanted by Rebecca Ross

    1. Thank you! Despite it being a fantasy mystery about stolen girls, it actually felt like a calm read to me. I chalk it up to the writing style and the level-headedness of the characters. I hope you like it when you get around to it. ๐Ÿ™‚

  1. Hey Celeste,

    thank you for your excellent review. I enjoyed reading your thoughts.

    I have this book waiting on my wishlist for now. But you definitely made me want to read this book.


    1. Thanks for stopping by, RoXXie! I’m glad to hear you already had this on your TBR, and that my review makes you want to read it even more. That was very nice of you to say! <3 I hope you enjoy it when you find time to read it! ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. This is an absolutely stunning review, Celeste! I have a copy of this book because it was featured in an Illumicrate box and while I’ll admit that it sounded intriguing, I wasn’t overly convinced to pick it up any time soon since my owned TBR is… a disaster. I plan on picking it up as soon as I am in the mood for an atmospheric read like this I can be captivated by!

    1. Thanks for stopping by to see what I had to say about this book! Yes, it’s a very atmospheric read…it reminded me a bit of Outlander (the tv show, I haven’t read the books), but with way less violence and sex and more of the Scottish nature/scenery kind of backdrop. I hope you enjoy it!

  3. Awesome review! This book wasn’t so much on my radar until it landed in my lap with the Illumicrate box a few months ago but it looks and sounds absolutely stunning ๐Ÿ˜ I’m liking the sound of this character and the mystery behind the story and I’m definitely looking forward to reading this even more now!

    1. Yay, thanks for your kind words, Dini! I bet your Illumicrate edition is stunning. Yes, this book was such a quiet, atmospheric read, yet with plenty of mystery. I hope you enjoy it! A couple days ago I noticed the sequel is on NetGalley, so I requested it. Not sure if I’ll be approved because I was quite late reviewing it thanks to my click happy fingers at the end of last year (never again will I go on a request spree lol!!).

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