Unexplained disappearances draw a reluctant hero back to his island home to confront spirits in this spellbinding tale.
Good to know
First in series
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.
A River Enchanted
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.
It was midnight, and he had just arrived at Woe, a fishing village on the northern coast of the mainland. Jack thought the name was fitting as he covered his nose; the place reeked of herring. Iron yard gates were tinged with rust, and the houses sat crooked on stilts, every shutter bolted against the relentless howl of the wind. Even the tavern was closed, its fire banked, its ale casks long since corked. The only movement came from the stray cats lapping up the milk left for them on door stoops, from the bobbing dance of cogs and rowboats in the quay. This place was dark and quiet with dreams.
Ten years ago, he had made his first and only ocean crossing. From the isle to the mainland, a passage that took two hours if the wind was favorable. He had arrived at this very village, borne over the starlit water by an old sailor. The man had been weathered and wiry from years of wind and sun, undaunted by the thought of approaching the isle in his rowboat.
Jack remembered it well: his first moment stepping onto mainland soil. He had been eleven years old, and his initial impression was that it smelled different here, even in the dead of night. Like damp rope, fish, and woodsmoke. Like a rotting storybook. Even the land beneath his boots had felt strange, as if it grew harder and drier the farther south he traveled.
Why I love it
Author, A History of Wild Places
A River Enchanted is an exhilarating journey into a richly realized world of myth, magic, and alliances—old and new—forged for good (and sometimes ill). It imaginatively explores classic themes of duty, honor, and going home again. Its characters are fully realized and you will find yourself willingly—nay, eagerly—following them through dark, unsettling forests, and into the midst of those who may be friend or foe.
When Jack Tamerlaine is summoned to the magical isle of Cadence, he returns to the island home he was forced to leave when he was just eleven years old. Now a scholar and teacher, he takes leave from his job to make the journey home to Cadence, crossing the treacherous, malevolent waters. But it’s only then that he learns the true reason for his return. Drawn again into a world of enemies, dark spirits, and truths hidden behind magic, lies, and old family secrets, he must join forces with a former childhood rival to solve the mysterious disappearance of young girls on the island.
With her adult debut, Rebecca Ross proves herself one of our master world builders and storytellers. This book is a delightful, perfectly-paced read, and will easily become a favorite for readers of fantasy.
Member ratings (17,543)
OMG, this book was STUNNING! The writing, the characters, the intrigue… it was ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ all around! This is a beautiful, lyrical tale that transports you to this world filled with magic and fae.
I was between “loved” and “liked” for this one. Well done, but wanted just a tiny bit more as the end was a little choppy for first in series. Chose “love” because I would ultimately read the sequel!
Coeur d Alene, ID
A little slow to start, but captivating nonetheless. Ross’s world-building is beautiful and her characters relatable. Can’t wait for the second book! Loved the ending and it’s set ups. Solid 4/5 stars
Millington , IL
A long book that feels short bc it’s so good. I love the story, the characters, the writing. It transports me in the best possible way. I can’t wait for the sequel - I’ve marked my calendar for 12/6!
New York, NY
I’m not a big fantasy fan, but this enchanted me. Ross’ prose is lyrical, ethereal and transportive. I felt the wind, smelled the land and ached for the characters. I’m so glad it’ll be a series!