Monday, July 25, 2016

Book Review: The Secret Language of Stones

The Secret Language of Stones: A NovelAuthor: M.J. Rose
Publication Date: July 19, 2016
Publisher: Atria Books
Series: The Daughters of La Lune # 2

As World War I rages and the Romanov dynasty reaches its sudden, brutal end, a young jewelry maker discovers love, passion, and her own healing powers in this rich and romantic ghost story, the perfect follow-up to M.J. Rose’s “brilliantly crafted” (Providence Journal) novel The Witch of Painted Sorrows.

Nestled within Paris’s historic Palais Royal is a jewelry store unlike any other. La Fantasie Russie is owned by Pavel Orloff, protégé to the famous Faberge, and is known by the city’s fashion elite as the place to find the rarest of gemstones and the most unique designs. But war has transformed Paris from a city of style and romance to a place of fear and mourning. In the summer of 1918, places where lovers used to walk, widows now wander alone.

So it is from La Fantasie Russie’s workshop that young, ambitious Opaline Duplessi now spends her time making trench watches for soldiers at the front, as well as mourning jewelry for the mothers, wives, and lovers of those who have fallen. People say that Opaline’s creations are magical. But magic is a word Opaline would rather not use. The concept is too closely associated with her mother Sandrine, who practices the dark arts passed down from their ancestor La Lune, one of sixteenth century Paris’s most famous courtesans.

But Opaline does have a rare gift even she can’t deny, a form of lithomancy that allows her to translate the energy emanating from stones. Certain gemstones, combined with a personal item, such as a lock of hair, enable her to receive messages from beyond the grave. In her mind, she is no mystic, but merely a messenger, giving voice to soldiers who died before they were able to properly express themselves to loved ones. Until one day, one of these fallen soldiers communicates a message—directly to her.

So begins a dangerous journey that will take Opaline into the darkest corners of wartime Paris and across the English Channel, where the exiled Romanov dowager empress is waiting to discover the fate of her family. Full of romance, seduction, and a love so powerful it reaches beyond the grave, The Secret Language of Stones is yet another “spellbindingly haunting” (Suspense magazine), “entrancing read that will long be savored” (Library Journal, starred review).

Of all the work I did, I found that it wasn’t the watches but the solace my lockets gave that proved to be my greatest gift to the war effort.

Trying to find where his amorphous fingers had lain, trying to pick up a sense of him. But there was nothing there. He’d gone. And I was alone. Again.

Every soul requires secret places for contemplation as well as open spaces for celebration.

This book looks and reads like a dream. Every single word was so eloquent, beautifully written, and perfectly placed. This story is enchanting and will be sure to capture readers from the first paragraph. We follow a group of extraordinary women, especially zoning in on Opaline. Opaline has a gift for working with stones and jewels and uses her magic as a connection from the living to the dead. The setting is the always wonderful Paris, but this time the book is set during World War I, when most of Europe was being ravaged by war. The author makes everything seem so real; readers will feel like they are time traveling right back into the pages of history.

The war is especially brought to life throughout the pages of this book. Readers will face love, loss, political intrigue, and a bit of the paranormal as they journey through this book. This book literally mixes all of my favorite genres into one: historical fiction, paranormal romance, and anything that has to do with magic. I was so entranced as I read this story. I couldn’t take my mind off of the characters and all the unanswered questions that I had even when I wasn’t reading. I didn’t realize after reading The Witch of Painted Sorrows that this would end up being a series, but I am so pleased and cannot wait to see where the story goes from here!

***A free copy of this book was provided to me by the publishers at Atria Books in exchange for my honest review***

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