Possession. Power. Passion. New York Times bestselling novelist M. J. Rose creates her most provocative and magical spellbinder yet in this gothic novel set against the lavish spectacle of 1890s Belle Époque Paris.
Sandrine Salome flees New York for her grandmother’s Paris mansion to escape her dangerous husband, but what she finds there is even more menacing. The house, famous for its lavish art collection and elegant salons, is mysteriously closed up. Although her grandmother insists it’s dangerous for Sandrine to visit, she defies her and meets Julien Duplessi, a mesmerizing young architect. Together they explore the hidden night world of Paris, the forbidden occult underground and Sandrine’s deepest desires.
Among the bohemians and the demi-monde, Sandrine discovers her erotic nature as a lover and painter. Then darker influences threaten—her cold and cruel husband is tracking her down and something sinister is taking hold, changing Sandrine, altering her. She’s become possessed by La Lune: A witch, a legend, and a sixteenth-century courtesan, who opens up her life to a darkness that may become a gift or a curse.
This is Sandrine’s “wild night of the soul,” her odyssey in the magnificent city of Paris, of art, love, and witchery. -
I was completely in the mood for this book: which is thick and dark and magical and enchanting and suited the darkest night of the year. A perfect Solstice book! It is a treatise on liberty and passion woven with a deft pen that understands the complex nature of art, but also inserts a magical tapestry of precise historical authenticity. Perfect escapist fiction, The Witch of Painted Sorrows features impeccable descriptions of artistry, witchery, magic and dark spiritualism set against the lush and unmistakable canvas of the Belle Epoque.
It is romantic and savoury, especially upon Sandrine's encounters with the dashing architect Julien. While she is all romance and magic, he is all precision and atheism and the two clash in mind and spirit all the while against age-old sorcery, enchanted baubles, slick-cobblestoned alleys and spirits that go bump in the night.
Sandrine even dresses as a man in order to gain admittance to a renowned art school, her form and talent becoming more and more unmistakable as she realizes that her hand may hold the brush that spreads paint wide and colourful and evocative, but her spirit is melded with someone elses.
The descriptives are perfect, the sensual whiff of Parisienne culture and custom transformative. Paris is as much a character as any dimensional human borne of Rose's pen. Alchemy, The Picture of Dorian Grey, the promise of life eternal......all intertwined with the magic of a gorgeous, gilded era.
I enjoyed this sumptuous book immensely, though I do warn readers of stark mature and sexual content. To add, those sensitive to dark arts may be off-put by Sandrine's possession by La Lune, the exorcisms she undergoes, and the uninhibited passions, wrongs and triumphs as La Lune attempts to find peace as a wearied soul.
Not for everyone, but perfect escapist fiction. If you don't mind some rated 18A content, then treat yourself to Rose's talented pen.
note: I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.