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Friday, March 20, 2015

ARC Review: The Witch of Painted Sorrows by M.J. Rose

The Witch of Painted Sorrows is pure gothic enchantment. The memoir of a woman becoming part of a centuries old legacy of passion and art is a fascinating story, filled with love and desire, art and architecture, ghosts and witches.

All of these threads combine to form the tapestry that depicts a few months in the life of Sandrine Salome. Sandrine is an American in Belle Epoque Paris. She lives with her grandmother, a well know courtesan. Having fled from her husband, after the suicide of her father, Sandrine is lost and longs to re-experience the joy she felt when she stayed with her grandmother as a young girl. Her grandmother's old house is where she feels happiest, so, defying her grandmother, Sandrine visits the old house often. It is there that she meets Julian, the brilliant art noveau architect. He introduces Sandrine to the occult underground of Paris. It is in the house and with Julian, that Sandrine evolves into the passionate lover and talented painter. It is in the house that Sandrine experiences the sinister force that may change her forever.

And there is the spirit that is La Lune. In her life, Sandrine's ancestor was the original inhabitant of the house. The first courtesan in a long line. La Lune's life was filled with passion and art and heartbreak. Sandrine's grandmother believes La Lune's ghost lives in her old house and is looking for vessel to inhabit. And she believes that Sandrine is just the vessel that La Lune wants.

The writing is lush and truly visual. Painting, art and architecture figure strongly in this saga. Reading about Parisian artists, art students and the study of painting is captivating and brings bright colors to a tale filled with dark shadows.

Ms. Rose's depictions of that part of Paris society that pursued occult studies, is fascinating, incorporating history and study of the arcane and of the relentless quest to solve eternal mysteries. Are these occultists the good guys or the bad guys? It is hard to tell.

The juxtaposition of art, passion and the occult is a mesmerizing. Once I started reading, I did not want to stop. And when I came to the end, I was sure there should be more.

Ms. Rose's novel is part ghost story, part horror, and part romance. Elegantly written with soul and with mystery, The Witch of Painted Sorrows is sure to appeal to lovers of romance, history and ghost stories.

**ARC provided by NetGalley**

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