Book Review: ‘The Witch of Painted Sorrows’ by M.J. Rose

By Stacey Longo


The Witch of Painted Sorrows, the latest offering from M.J. Rose, paints a tempestuous a portrait of a woman fleeing her corrupt husband to seek refuge with her grandmother in Paris. Sandrine, who has never known love, finds passion ignited within her when she meets Julien, discovers a talent for painting she never knew she had, and begins indulging both of these desires. The question becomes whether she is simply discovering her true self, or is there another, supernatural element involved?

Sandrine’s husband is responsible for her beloved father’s suicide, and Sandrine, unable to live with him a moment longer, escapes to her grandmother’s house to hide from him and find herself. Grand-mere is nervous having her granddaughter there, and fears that exposing Sandrine to the ghosts of their ancestors will set off a chain of events that can only end in despair and death for those possessed by the past. Sandrine is unwilling to accept that her newly awakened passions might be the result of a centuries-old courtesan witch. Her struggle to find herself and learn more about her fiery ancestor results in a climax embracing the basest of emotions: lust, love, hate, and vengeance.

Rose immerses the reader in a lush, vibrant scene of late nineteenth century Paris, and the reader immediately becomes a witness to the sumptuous scenes as they unfold. Senses are heightened as characters are drawn into a complex tale of witchery, ancestry, and fate; and Rose deftly guides us to a crescendo, resulting in an unexpected yet satisfying ending. It’s impossible not to feel affected and a bit emotionally drained after reading this story. Rose has brought her unique style and captivating tone to this tale, once again hypnotizing her readers in a world of beauty and mystery.

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