A River Enchanted

HarperAudio. (Elements of Cadence, Bk. 1). Feb. 2022. 14:13 hrs. ISBN 9780063056015. $29.99. FANTASY
In her first adult fantasy work, Ross (“The Queen’s Rising” duology) weaves a mystery about abducted girls with plotlines about clan politics, two romances, and a prodigal son, creating pacing that flows pleasingly from calms to rapids and back again. Ruth Urquhart is the precise narrator listeners will want for this lengthy Scottish-inspired fantasy novel. Through this character-driven story, Urquhart is able to convincingly voice the large cast, conveying their emotions and worries so perfectly that listeners will never wonder whose point of view they’re experiencing. Urquhart is equally skilled when narrating a fight scene or a tender moment between a long-married couple. She has the tone and cadence to make Ross’s tale feel folkloric and musical—which is especially gratifying as one of the protagonists is a bard. The impression of a folktale makes the novel’s worldbuilding feel completely natural, guiding listeners to an understanding of the elemental spirits and the conflicts of the setting, as all the while, the characters deepen their own knowledge.
VERDICT While Ross’s protagonists may need to be wary of seeking mysterious shine beneath the waters, this is one enchanted river listeners can dive confidently into.
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