Saturday, August 8, 2015

Audiobook Review: The Witch of Painted Sorrows by M.J. Rose

The Witch of Painted Sorrows 
by M.J. Rose
Series:  The Daughters of La Lune #1
Pub. Date:  March 31, 2015
Publisher:  Dreamscape Media
Narrator:  Natalie Ross, Phil Gigante
Length:  11 hrs 35 min
Format:  Audiobook
Source:  Library / Overdrive

My Rating:  
Sultry Scale:

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.

I think this may be the first gothic romance novel I have ever read. I can't think of another off the top of my head anyway. I listened to this one in audio and, while the narrator was fabulous, I had a hard time following sometimes and would have to rewind and listen more closely. That could be because of the french names or words or something. The narrator did a fabulous job with the french, it was one of the things I liked best about the performance, even though I had a hard time following sometimes.

The setting of the story is Belle Epoque Paris in the late 19th Century, and the descriptions were beautiful and evoked a real sense of the beauty of the city, and the spooky backdrop of La Lune's gothic mansion. The cover matches the setting beautifully, and it was what drew me to the book initially.

The pace of the story is quite slow and haunting, sometimes dreary, but I think that is a hallmark of gothic novels and it didn't initially bother me. There were some times when I felt the story was dragging or getting bogged down with too many minute details. (It probably wasn't the best book for me to be listening to while I was mowing the yard b/c the slow measured pace of the story made the work seem longer.) It is a perfect book for reading/listening to on a stormy night!

Sandrine was an interesting character, but I never really felt like I "got" her (if that makes sense). I know her personality changed somewhat rapidly due to the influence of La Lune, but I did not like how callous she became, particularly toward her grandmother. Julian rubbed me the wrong way most of the book because I am not big on adultry and it seemed he was stepping out on a fiance that he supposedly loved. This opinion changed towards the end, but it took so long that there wasn't much time for me to connect with Julian afterwards.

My favorite aspects of this book were La Lune's story, the spooky mansion, and the narrator's performance. I liked the descriptions of the paintings, jewels and clothing as well... though sometimes I lost interest in the more minute painting details. And, even though nude portraits played a huge part of this story, I didn't really find that it was an erotic novel per se. Everything stayed pretty PG or PG-13, including the intimate scenes.

I didn't really care for the ending - it seemed so unresolved. But I will probably continue with the series to see where it goes with the next book. I will just know to save it for a rainy day the next time. 

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