Mere minutes ago I finished reading this book and I’m still immersed in the story. Isn’t that part of the goal of every writer? For the reader to finish the words on the page and not want to close the book because then it will truly be over. To have their audience be so caught up in the story that they don’t want to say goodbye. Just to live in the story forever.
I did not want to say farewell to this book.
The Witch of Painted Sorrows is the third book I have read by M.J. Rose and she has never disappointed me. Her stories are so rich and vivid. They live in the real world with a touch of something “other”. The otherworldly aspects are never pushed beyond the believable and into science fiction which is an aspect I enjoy immensely.
In this story we follow Sandrine Verlaine through a period of upheaval and change in her life in Paris, 1894. Rose draws you in with excitement and curiosity in the very first paragraph of the book:
“I did not cause the madness, the deaths, or the rest of the tragedies any more than I painted the paintings. I had help, her help. Or perhaps I should say that she forced her help on me. And so this story- which began with me fleeing my home in order to escape my husband and might very well end tomorrow, in a duel, in the Bois de Boulogne at dawn- is as much hers as mine. Or in fact more hers than mine. For she is the fountainhead. The fascination. She is La Lune. Woman of moon dreams, of legends and of nightmares. Who took me from the light and into the darkness. Who imprisoned me and set me free.”
Sandrine, when she flees her terrible husband in New York, travels secretly to Paris to stay with her grandmother, a courtesan of considerable wealth. She goes initially to escape the man, her husband, that had directly caused her father’s death and whom she feared. While in Paris, she discovers dark secrets hidden within her grandmother’s home that have been there for many generations.
As the darkness she finds creeps over her, possesses her, and tries to consume her Sandrine falls in love with a man that the darkness within her hungers for. While this creature, this consciousness, is inside her Sandrine accomplishes things in her life she had once only dreamed of while at the same time being touched by murder and madness. The spirit, who you learn has haunted Sandrine’s family for generations, seeks to entirely possess her host and force Sandrine out.
Will Sandrine win or will this consciousness from the past push her out? I won’t spoil it here. I will, however, say that the end surprised even me. It wasn’t entirely what I was expecting. I re-read the last chapter to make sure I had read it right. The story did have some slow parts, as most stories do, but push through them. I promise that you won’t be disappointed.