“The Witch of Painted Sorrows” by M.J. Rose – a Book Review

22608277

This was the first MJ Rose novel I’ve picked up! While it was a little bit slow to get into, I found “The Witch of Painted Sorrows” to be a solid read. Set in glamorous Belle Epoque Paris, Sandrine has fled an abusive marriage in New York to seek shelter with her grandmother. Putting her life back together, Sandrine rediscovers of her passion for art, and soon encounters a handsome architect, Julien, with whom she becomes entangled. Together, they discover a mysterious mansion filled with paintings, and embark on a journey to understand what it is they have found. Sandrine’s fate soon intersects that of La Lune, a 16th century courtesan and witch, whose curse has touched the women of her family.

The writing is strong, and Rose does a good job of setting the scene. Though the story does contain some rather predictable plot twists (Sandrine, did you really think your husband was going to just wait for you to show back up in NYC and not go after you?), I liked the slightly unpredictable way that Rose ties up everything at the end. Some parts were a little repetitive, but I did appreciate the fact that Rose answers a lot of the questions I had.

Overall, I’d recommend this for those that enjoy historical fiction with a little touch of magic. “The Witched of Painted Sorrows” is available for pre-order from Amazon.com and on shelves March 17, 2015.

And p.s., can we talk about how fantastic the cover is?
Disclaimer: I was provided with an ARC of the novel by the publisher for the purpose of review.

Fiercombe Manor by Kate Riordan, A Book Review

22552557

There’s something about cold weather that makes me want to pick up books about stately manor homes that hold secrets. I managed to sneak this one in before the end of 2014, and while it wasn’t a page turner, it somewhat hit the spot. To be honest, I’d almost given up on this genre after some pretty awful reads in the past year, but I’m glad I gave Fiercombe Manor by Kate Riordan a shot.

Unwed and pregnant, Alice finds herself exiled to the Gloucestershire countryside and the care of a family friend who also doubles as the housekeeper for Fiercombe Manor. While awaiting the birth of her child, Alice discovers that all may not be as it seems when it comes to the manor’s absentee owners and sets upon investigating what exactly happened to the house’s previous mistress.

Pros:
– Characters that were interesting, but not always likeable. I wasn’t particularly attached to any of them, but for the most part they avoided falling into stereotypical buckets.
– A memorable estate with lots of nooks and crannies for the story to take place in. Riordan does a nice job with her description and one can envision Fiercombe in all of its glory.
– Flashbacks, a mysterious journal… all the requirements for a book about an old estate with a past shrouded in secrecy.

Cons:
– With all of the novels that have flooded the market in this genre during the past few years it’s pretty hard to get original. The plot was rather predictable, though the journey still managed to be enjoyable.
– Totally random, but also didn’t think the 1933 setting was very realistic. If you’re going to pick such an interesting time in British history at least do something with it… or set your book in another time.
– Length… the story gets a little long in the tooth in parts and could have benefited from a tighter edit.

Nothing ground breaking, but if you’re looking for something to solve your old house/family secrets craving, I’d recommend picking this one up. Available for pre-order from Amazon and on shelves February 17th, 2015.

Disclaimer: I received an advance copy of this novel for review courtesy of the publisher.