Title: The Witch of Painted Sorrows [The Daughters of La Lune #1]
Author: M.J. Rose
Genre: Historical Paranormal Fantasy
Publication Date: March 17, 2015
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.
First thing’s first. I loved the cover for this book. It really caught my eye, and of course I was one to judge a book by its cover and requested it…
I didn’t love this book. It was a slow start that never really got going. When I thought something crazy was going to happen, something else would jump in from left field, take me for a spin and then drop me off back a description central. I love description – it helps build the setting, the characters, the mood and atmosphere of the novel – but this one wasn’t a captivating one. I didn’t want to wrap my world in this place and stay for a while. There was a lot of disconnect between myself and the characters and their world.
Sandrine and the other character switch personalities a lot. Sometimes they want to be really nice, sometimes they’re cruel, sometimes their irritating beyond reason, and yet none of these personalities reconcile with one another, and I couldn’t be with the characters, I could only just observe from a distance.
That being said, the world building was well done, overall, but even then, there was nothing that really stood out to be as historic? Aside from the sexism in the city of Paris (only boys allowed to do all the fun stuff), I didn’t really see anything that screamed 1890s. It was more of just a fancy Paris. Maybe it’s ’cause I’ve never been to Paris? I don’t know.
On the other hand, I loved the description of the art. That was something that captured me. Not necessarily PG, but the way she painted and the way the whole process was described, there was something hauntingly beautiful about it. That was also the only time I really cared about what was going through her head throughout the novel. That part of the world was the only part that really resounded with me because I could feel her passion and see the art that was around her.
I think my least favourite part of the book was the questioning-to-create-drama part. How did that happen? What’s happening? Who is this person? Did I do that? On and on it went. Every few chapters would end with some rhetorical questions that I already knew the answer to and it’s just like girl, if you don’t get what’s happening you need to WAKE UP. I get that she might be irrational because of the whole possession thing, but really, how oblivious do you have to be to not see what’s going on. And I hated that she kept switching back in forth – oh, I don’t want her in me – actually I do – actually I think I’m better with her – wait no, she’s bad -but she makes me better. It was like watching someone chase their tail – interesting at first, silly and tiring later on.
Overall, the concept was interesting, and while it wasn’t a very time-specific setting, I could imagine Sandrine’s world well. That being said, the characterization and descriptions held up the plot, and the lack of a huge climax was disappointing.
World Building: 4/5
GoodReads Rating: 3.54/5
eARC obtained via Atria Books via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.