ABOUT THE BOOK:
From the author of Sing Me Forgotten comes a lush new fantasy novel with an art-based magic system, romance, and murder…
Myra has a gift many would kidnap, blackmail, and worse to control: she’s a portrait artist whose paintings alter people’s bodies. Guarding that secret is the only way to keep her younger sister safe now that their parents are gone. But one frigid night, the governor’s wife discovers the truth and threatens to expose Myra if she does not complete a special portrait that would resurrect the governor’s dead son.
Once she arrives at the legendary stone mansion, however, it becomes clear the boy’s death was no accident. A killer stalks these halls–one disturbingly obsessed with portrait magic. Desperate to get out of the manor as quickly as possible, Myra turns to the governor’s older son for help completing the painting before the secret she spent her life concealing makes her the killer’s next victim.
Myra is an artist who can affect a person’s appearance with her paintings. She’s a Prodigy, and she hides her talent, because Prodigies have been going missing – including her mother. Her father is missing as well, leaving her and her sister Lucy struggling to make ends meet. Lucy is terminally ill, so when the governor’s wife offers Myra a ridiculous sum of money to bring her dead son back to life with her magic, Myra really can’t turn her down. Not only does she need the money, but the governor’s wife threatens to expose Myra’s magical ability if she doesn’t successfully complete the task. So the stakes are high, and as Myra has never brought someone back from the dead, she’s not sure she’s up to the challenge.
Myra’s magic can’t work unless she understands what she’s trying to change. To resurrect the governor’s elder son, she has to know how he died, what killed him, what he was feeling at the time. She soon learns that his death was no accident, but she can’t tell his mother that. When August, the younger son of the family, offers his help, they set out on a treacherous task to find a killer before the killer does them in.
The premise behind the magical system of A Forgery of Roses is fascinating! Painting as magic that modifies the human form. I can’t think of a magical system quite like it.
August suffers from nearly debilitating anxiety. Lucy’s ailment isn’t easily visible to the eye. Olson deftly illustrates how these “invisible” ailments can be just as harmful to those who suffer from them as any visible wound or defect.
The atmosphere of the story is definitely creepy, with a Gothic vibe. The governor’s house sounds like a chill, horrible place, with August being just about the only spark of life there. There are attacks on dark streets, encounters that shouldn’t happen. Very mysterious, and it made me feel like perhaps I should look over my shoulder when walking alone.
I will say that if you’re looking for a clean-cut ending, this wasn’t it. Will there be a sequel? I hope so! Four stars for the story, plus one for the unique magic system. So five stars from me!
Disclaimer: I received a review copy of this book from the publisher and NetGalley. All opinions here are mine, and I don’t say nice things about books I don’t actually like.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Jessica S. Olson claims New Hampshire as her home but has somehow found herself in Texas, where she spends most of her time singing praises to the inventor of the air conditioner. When she’s not hiding from the heat, she’s corralling her four wild—but adorable—children, dreaming up stories about kissing and murder and magic, and eating peanut butter by the spoonful straight from the jar. She earned a bachelor’s in English with minors in editing and French, which essentially means she spent all of her university time reading and eating French pastries. She is the author of Sing Me Forgotten (2021) and A Forgery of Roses (2022).