Sunday, September 3, 2017

Book Review: "The Library of Light and Shadow" by M.J. Rose

About the book:
In this riveting and richly drawn novel from "one of the master storytellers of historical fiction" (New York Times bestselling author Beatriz Williams), a talented young artist flees New York for the South of France after one of her scandalous drawings reveals a dark secret—and triggers a terrible tragedy.

In the wake of a dark and brutal World War, the glitz and glamour of 1925 Manhattan shine like a beacon for the high society set, desperate to keep their gaze firmly fixed to the future. But Delphine Duplessi sees more than most. At a time in her career when she could easily be unknown and penniless, like so many of her classmates from L'École des Beaux Arts, in America she has gained notoriety for her stunning "shadow portraits" that frequently expose her subjects' most scandalous secrets. Most nights Delphine doesn't mind that her gift has become mere entertainment—a party trick—for the fashionable crowd.

Then, on a snowy night in February, in a penthouse high above Fifth Avenue, Delphine's mystical talent leads to a tragedy between two brothers. Devastated and disconsolate, Delphine renounces her gift and returns to her old life in the south of France where Picasso, Matisse, and the Fitzgeralds are summering. There, Delphine is thrust into recapturing the past. First by her charismatic twin brother and business manager Sebastian who attempts to cajole her back to work and into co-dependence, then by the world famous opera singer Emma Calvé, who is obsessed with the writings of the fourteenth-century alchemist Nicolas Flamel. And finally by her ex-lover Mathieu, who is determined to lure her back into his arms, unaware of the danger that led Delphine to flee Paris for New York five years before.

Trapped in an ancient chateau where hidden knowledge lurks in the shadows, Delphine questions everything and everyone she loves the most—her art, her magick, her family, and Mathieu—in an effort to accept them as the gifts they are. Only there can she shed her fear of loving and living with her eyes wide open.

My thoughts:
This is the third Daughters of La Lune book I've read by M.J. Rose, and they just keep getting better. Each tells the story of a woman in the same family who has been gifted with special abilities. This happens throughout the centuries, but only to the women, and all of their abilities are different. Some might call them "witches" although that doesn't completely describe their unusual gifts. In The Library of Light and Shadow, we meet Delphine, who has the ability to paint people's secrets while she is blindfolded. Needless to say, some secrets may be better off hidden, and revealing them can lead to tragic consequences. And Delphine's paintings do indeed lead to tragedy, not only for others but for herself. When this happens, Delphine decides to bury her talent so that no more lives are destroyed, but when her twin brother begs her merely to paint the secrets of an old castle -- which would help him earn a much-needed commission as her manager -- she agrees since the secrets of an old building surely couldn't hurt anyone. Or could they? Not surprisingly, Delphine's paintings reveal a multitude of secrets that threaten to unravel many mysteries, as well as many lives. M.J. Rose's words always flow like water, sweeping the reader along in a current of magic, both dark and sensuous, and leaving a haunting impression long after the book has ended.

About the author:
M.J. Rose grew up in New York City mostly in the labyrinthine galleries of the Metropolitan Museum, the dark tunnels and lush gardens of Central Park and reading her mother's favorite books before she was allowed. She believes mystery and magic are all around us but we are too often too busy to notice... Books that exaggerate mystery and magic draw attention to it and remind us to look for it and revel in it.

Rose is a the Co-President and founding member of International Thriller Writers and the founder of the first marketing company for authors: AuthorBuzz. She runs the blog, Museum of Mysteries.

In 1998, her first novel Lip Service was the first e-book and the first self-published novel chosen by the LiteraryGuild/Doubleday Book Club as well as the first e-book to go on to be published by a mainstream New York publishing house.

Rose has been profiled in Time magazine, Forbes, The New York Times, Business 2.0, Working Woman, Newsweek, and New York Magazine.

She has appeared on The Today Show, Fox News, The Jim Lehrer NewsHour, and features on her have appeared in dozens of magazines and newspapers in the U.S. and abroad, including USAToday, Stern, L'Official, Poets and Writers, and Publishers Weekly.

Rose graduated from Syracuse University and spent the '80s in advertising. She was the Creative Director of Rosenfeld Sirowitz and Lawson and she has a commercial in the Museum of Modern Art in NYC.

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Disclosure: I borrowed this book from the library. This post contains my Amazon affiliate link, and I will receive a small commission on purchases made through my link.

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