Myra Whitlock has a gift. One many would kill for.
She’s an artist whose portraits alter people’s real-life bodies, a talent she must hide from those who would kidnap, blackmail, and worse in order to control it. 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. Desperate, Myra ventures to his legendary stone mansion.
Once she arrives, however, it becomes clear the boy’s death was no accident. Someone dangerous lurks within these glittering halls. Someone harboring a disturbing obsession with portrait magic.
Myra cannot do the painting until she knows what really happened, so she turns to the governor’s older son, a captivating redheaded poet. Together, they delve into the family’s most shadowed affairs, racing to uncover the truth before the secret Myra spent her life concealing makes her the killer’s next victim.
With the description of a unique magical system, a gothic mystery, and such a gorgeous cover, I couldn’t pass up this novel.
An artist whose portraits alter people’s real-life bodies. It’s something I haven’t come across before, and I liked that Myra didn’t completely understand everything about her power. The reader discovers new aspects along with her throughout the story. It’s a dangerous thing to be a Prodigy since many have gone missing, including Myra’s mother and then her father who went in search of her. Since their disappearances, Myra has struggled to provide food and shelter for herself and her younger sister, who suffers from a debilitating disease and desperately needs medical care. Money and jobs are scarce. When Myra is offered a significant amount of money to create a painting, it’s an offer she can’t refuse – especially since since it’s made by the governor’s wife, who also threatens to expose Myra if she can’t resurrect her dead son with the portrait. For Myra’s magic to work, she has to know exactly what happened to the subject of the painting and what they felt – and it soon becomes clear murder is involved. When the governor’s other son, August, offers his assistance, he and Myra undertake a dangerous journey to discover that truly happened.
I loved the gothic atmosphere of this story and the secrets and mystery surrounding August and his family. The descriptions made it easy to immerse myself in this world, and I felt as if I walked the ominous hallways and darkened streets along with Myra and August. The strong bond between Myra and sister Lucy is another strength of this novel, and the fear of losing her creates incredibly high stakes for Myra and pushes her to go beyond her limits.
I admit I smirked at some over-the-top romantic moments between Myra and August (that’s just me), and I grew exasperated with Myra a couple times when she discovered a clue and then backed off or forgot about it. None of that detracted from my enjoyment of this compelling novel, and I finished it in a couple days. It doesn’t end with a cliffhanger, but does leave the door open for a sequel, something I’d snatch up in a second. I’d recommend A Forgery of Roses to readers who enjoy immersive, atmospheric mysteries with strong gothic vibes.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
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).
Author website: https://www.jessicasolson.com/
A FORGERY OF ROSES by Jessica S. Olson
On sale: March 29, 2022
Teen & Young Adult; Fantasy; Romance
$19.99 / $24.99 CAN