If still into all the Shadow and Bone Season 2 feels and you are looking for a fantasy that feels grounded with a unique magic system, characters, and relationships to fall in love with, please go pick up Rebecca Ross‘ The Elements of Cadence series, featuring A River Enchanted and A Fire Endless. The world Ross has created is very atmospheric, with Celtic roots, fairies, and magic. It is a cozy fantasy series, but it also includes high stakes with a mystery surrounding young girls going missing on the Isle of Cadence. Ross balances the quiet character moments with more action and story-driven ones masterfully, which makes these books hard to put down.
A River Enchanted starts the Elements of Cadence off. There are multiple points of view, allowing us to get into the heads of our four main characters, Jack, Adaira, Toren, and Sidra. They live on the east side of the Isle of Cadence, where magic comes at a price, but the world around them is plentiful. The magic comes easily on the other side of the island, but they struggle with the land’s resources. This causes tension between the two clans, with those from the west stealing from the east to survive. And while the magic and magical beings exist in this world, it still feels very human. The balance between the two is comforting and makes you feel like there could be magic in the everyday world. I love the way Ross builds the folk tales in the books surrounding the different fairies and spirits, further enriching the world.
Two beautifully told love stories span the two books. With Jack, our bard, and Adaira, the Heiress of the East, we get childhood rivals to lovers. Jack is summoned by Adaira back to the island after studying music on the mainland. Their hatred of each other is sparked again at being reunited, but they both need each other to solve the mystery of the missing girls. Their progression feels natural, and as they learn more about each other, the feelings become real inside their marriage of convenience. With Sidra, the healer, and Toren, the captain of the guard, we get a marriage in trouble. Their relationship began out of Toren’s need for help with his daughter after his first wife passed away. It started as companionship, and we get to see how their feelings changed over time for them to become more.
Over the course of the two books, both couples go through separations and struggles, and they all pay off in a way that makes them stronger. Ross does not focus solely on the romance and has a lot of family moments as well that help cement the world and our characters. A Fire Endless takes place after a short time jump and is a seamless continuation of A River Enchanted. We get to learn more about the world with a more prominent antagonist and mystery surrounding him, making it just as riveting as the first installment.
The Elements of Cadence duology is one I will definitely be revisiting in the future, now available wherever books are sold.