Saturday, October 1, 2016

Book Review: "The Secret Language of Stones," by M.J. Rose

About the book:
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. The Secret Language of Stones is full of romance, seduction, and a love so powerful, it reaches beyond the grave.

My thoughts:
I adored the first book in The Daughters of La Lune series by M.J. Rose, The Witch of Painted Sorrows, so I couldn't wait to read the second book. Fortunately, I was not disappointed as it is every bit as absorbing as the first. Although it's nice to know the story and characters from the first book, it's not necessary to enjoy and understand this second book. I love the rich historical details in The Secret Language of Stones. I could really feel the pain and desperation of the people of France when they faced the constant threat of bombs and death. It is a dark time when sons and lovers are being killed in war, and women must remain at home to grieve and earn a living. Opaline finds it emotionally and physically exhausting to channel the souls of the departed, but she feels she is doing a service to those who grieve by delivering their loved one's final message. But when one young man starts speaking directly to her, instead of through her, Opaline begins to doubt her sanity, even though she's been told she comes from a long line of witches. This book contains it all -- mystery, history, romance and suspense -- and I was sad to see it end despite its satisfying conclusion.

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 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 USA Today, 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.

2016 Witches &a Witchcraft Reading Challenge

Disclosure: I received a complimentary digital copy of this book from the publisher to facilitate my honest review. This post contains my Amazon affiliate link, and I will receive a small commission on purchases made through my link.

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