By: Sydney Spangler
It was safest to cross the ocean at night, when the moon and stars shone on the water. At least, that's what Jack had been raised to believe. He wasn't sure if those old convictions still held true these days.
- "A River Enchanted" by Rebecca Ross
It's a world inspired by Scottish folktales, where capricious spirits rule the island of Cadence by fire, water, earth, and wind. They find mirth in the lives of the humans who call the land home. Enchantments run deep: 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.
Jack Tamerlaine hasn't stepped foot on Cadence in 10 long years, content to study music at a mainland university. But when young lasses start disappearing from the isle, Jack is summoned home to help find them. It's up to him and his childhood nemesis Adaira, heiress of the east, to draw the spirits 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 abut Cadence lurks beneath the surface, threatening to undo them all.
I wish I could say is a book full of whimsy and fun, but I would be lying. It's a tale full of secrets that threaten to unravel as our heroes search for missing lasses. It's a story about vulnerability, making amends, and finding what it means to be home. It is at times gut-wrenching and full of moments that leave you tittering with trepidation. "A River Enchanted" by Rebecca Ross is a compelling read if you enjoy adult fantasy, mystery, and a little bit of romance.
I don't want to reveal much of the plot or any juicy details, but I will say that I thoroughly enjoyed the theme of healing throughout the novel. We're first introduced to a man who felt rejected by his clan as a boy. Next, we have a soldier bred to believe that all those of the west are his enemy--an enemy that fills him with rage. Then, we have a healer who loses her faith and in doing so loses herself and her confidence. And while there's more, what's important is that each person is able to grow and heal as they face their conflicts. It ushers in hope--that all is not lost even if we are at our lowest. That we can face our problems and learn how to move forward.
Ross' writing is phenomenal. Her lyrical prose takes us into a lush world where unseen spirits live alongside humankind. It's a place where a little faith can go a long way and the land itself becomes one of the main characters. We're introduced to the people of Cadence, their problems and insecurities. We explore alongside them as they lop through grassy knolls, climb through high terrain, and break bread to mend relationships.
Also, thanks to this book I was introduced to oatcakes. According to this recipe, oatcakes are a traditional cracker made out of oats and can be found in shops and restaurants all across Scotland. They can also be found on the isle of Cadence! So if you're sitting down to read "A River Enchanted," consider baking some oatcakes to help immerse yourself in this compelling tale.