Book Review: The Witch of Painted Sorrows

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The Witch of Painted Sorrows by M.J. Rose    Published by Atria Books

RATING: 4 STARS

In her signature lush prose, M.J. Rose paints an intriguing gothic tale set during the 1890s Belle Époque Paris. Sandrine Salome, fleeing from her dangerous husband in New York, seeks refuge in her grandmother’s grand mansion in hopes of creating  a new life for herself. Upon arrival, she discovers her (courtesan) grandmother’s mansion is boarded up. When questioned, her grandmother’s evasive answer piques Sandrine’s curiosity to discover her secrets. Along with a charming young architect, she begins to explore the forbidden and dangerous night world of Paris. 

Sandrine becomes fascinated with the Maison de la Lune, a mansion which has been in the Verlaine family for centuries. As Sandrine becomes more involved in the secrets surrounding Maison de la Lune, she becomes prey to the life draining force of La Lune, a long-suffering ancestor of the Verlaine family.

M.J. Rose captures Sandrine’s sadness and obsessive desire to find her own identity. The Witch of Painted Sorrows blends a haunted Parisian mansion, a 16th century courtesan, and witchcraft, giving the reader a thrilling ride to the end. I’m looking forward to M.J. Rose’s second installment of The Daughters of La Lune.

A copy of the book was provided to me by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Review: The French Executioner

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The French Executioner by C.C. Humphreys 

What do you get when you mix the six-fingered hand of a Queen, an executioner and an Italian Archbishop? An amusing Three Muskateers-esque historical fiction mashup by C.C. Humphreys, who makes the story work using his graceful prose. A galloping adventure set in 1536 Europe, The French Executioner is about the expert swordsman, Jean Rombeaud, brought over from France by Henry VIII to behead his wife, Ann Boleyn. On the eve of her execution, Ann begs Jean to take her six-figured hand, symbolizing her rumored witchery, to a sacred crossroads in the Loire Valley. Ann Boleyn’s hand is such a powerful a relic, that many will put their lives at risk to own it, including an Archbishop. Humphreys’ descriptive style transports you to sinister torture-chambers, ambushes and gory battles.

When I started to read this novel, I  expected a more historical rather than an action-adventure novel. The beginning of the story starts off at a slow pace, as the story becomes bogged down in detailed information. Half way through the story, the action begins. Although it’s enjoyable to read, historical fiction fans may be disappointed since this novel leans towards fantastical rather than historical.

RATING: 3.5 STARS

Last but not least, the winner of a signed copy of The French Executioner is…Christina from Kentucky! Congratulations!

UPCOMING REVIEWS: The Children Act by Ian McEwan, The Stone Mattress by Margaret Atwood & Seventh Heaven by Alice Hoffman.

** An advanced reader’s copy of the book was exchanged for an honest review.