Review: The Witch of Painted Sorrows – M.J. Rose

the witch of painted sorrows

I received this book in exchange for an honest review.

SYNOPSIS: 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. – via Goodreads

GRADE 5Recently I was approached to read the latest novel from M.J. Rose, recommended based on the fact that I enjoy Anne Rice. I really do like Rice’s work, and figured if I could find a similar author I would be happy. What I didn’t even take into consideration was that this might be more like A. N. Roquelaure (Rice’s pen name for her more erotic work). Irrespective of, I started the book thinking that I would venture out of my comfort zone to try out something different (I have been trying that lately), and within the first two chapters I established that I did not like Sandrine’s character – I found her flat, annoying and weak, not interesting and  compelling, someone I felt for. Not only that, we keep getting told what a strong character she is, but that character never really comes to the fore. I also found Grand-mére to not be layered enough – I was getting really excited to learn more about courtesans of the time, but that was basically mentioned over and over, but never elaborated on. Also, suddenly Grand-mére was a harbinger of death and all, but never actually substantiated. I know that the novel is set in the 1890s, but it doesn’t consistently feel that way, and Rose’s writing style doesn’t necessarily always reflect it, either, so you never get completely drawn into and lost in the novel. That and the shallow characters you don’t really care about means that The Witch of Painted Sorrows never resonates and stays with you. The relationship between Julien and Sandrine was flat and bland, for me, and the sex mirrored that, too. I also never got to the place where I cared about Sandrine’s plight, or what she was going to do. Events trundled along, but never really went anywhere too quickly. I wish there had been a more solid nad convincing plot. I found it to be an easy read, but it only really picks up towards the end, drawing you in then, but leaving oh so many questions unanswered. It was more interesting, but also rushed, disjointed and flawed. There was plenty potential for the novel though, I just feel that none of it was used to the best advantage it could have been. I liked how fantasy was woven throughout the book, and enjoyed when you finally got some more history on La Lune and her past. That was a whole different thing. I wanted to know more of that. The supernatural was sort of glanced over in here, never given too much flesh, but plenty of allusion. Then again, this was out of my comfort zone, and didn’t really play up to what I was hoping for, but maybe those enjoying a supernatural romance as a genre might like this substantially more.

SPOILER: I liked the end and disliked it in equal measure. On the one hand, there is more suspense there, but on the other, it makes the entire novel feel like a wasted and useless struggle.

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