November 28, 2022

REVIEW A Forgery of Roses by Jessica S. Olson

A Forgery of Roses by Jessica S. Olson
Rating: 4 Stars
Release Date: March 29, 2022
Format: Audiobook (Borrowed from Library)
Publisher: Inkyard Press

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Myra Whitlock has had a hard life. Her parents disappeared months ago, and she’s been left to take care of her ailing younger sister alone. The one thing that might make her life better never works quite right - Myra is known as a “Prodigy”, someone who can alter reality through her paintings. She can heal wounds with a stroke of her brush and remove blemishes with a dash of paint. Myra hides her abilities to ensure she is not hunted, but one day a noble discovers what she can do and commissions her to paint her dead son back to life. Things end up being much more complicated than Myra anticipated though, as a somewhat straightforward painting job (given that bringing someone back to life is never easy) becomes much more dangerous. Will she be able to unravel the mystery of what truly happened in the governor’s mansion before it’s too late?

The magic system and worldbuilding in this book are amazing. I don’t know if the author has personal experience with painting, but if they don’t they did a fantastic job with their research and making things feel real. I loved how artwork is not only the magic system in the book, but it's also part of their religion (“The Artist” is their version of a God). There were a couple of missing portions of the worldbuilding (i.e. the political system is a big question mark as is what life is like for the normal townsperson) but I don’t think those were necessary to fully enjoy the story.  

The characters were another highlight of the book. While there is definitely a romance developing between Myra and August over the course of the story, the heart of the book is the relationship between Myra and her sister Lucy. That sibling bond drives the main action of the book (and Myra’s decision to risk everything to take the commission to bring Will back to life). It also defines a lot of Myra’s feelings about her gift - despite her ability to alter certain parts of reality with her gift, it doesn’t extend far enough to cure her sister of her ailment. For me, the relationship between Lucy and Myra was the most compelling part of the character arc in the story. 

Billie Fulford-Brown did a fantastic job with the narration. Her performance added another layer of depth to the story. If you are a fan of audiobooks, I would definitely recommend checking out the audiobook version of this book. 

Altogether, A Forgery of Roses was a hauntingly beautiful cross between a darker fantasy romance and a mystery. If you enjoyed Kerri Maniscalco’s Stalking Jack the Ripper series or Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, then A Forgery of Roses will be a great choice. After finishing this book, I’m excited to go back and read Ms. Olson’s debut novel, Sing Me Forgotten, as well as anything she may publish in the future. 

About the Book
From the author of Sing Me Forgotten comes a lush new fantasy novel with art-based magic, romance, and murder...

Myra has a gift many would kidnap, blackmail, and worse to control: she's a portrait artist whose paintings alter people's bodies. Guarding that secret is the only way to keep her younger sister safe now that their parents are gone. But one frigid night, the governor's wife discovers the truth and threatens to expose Myra if she does not complete a special portrait that would resurrect the governor's dead son.

Once she arrives at the legendary stone mansion, however, it becomes clear the boy's death was no accident. A killer stalks these halls--one disturbingly obsessed with portrait magic. Desperate to get out of the manor as quickly as possible, Myra turns to the governor's older son for help completing the painting before the secret she spent her life concealing makes her the killer's next victim.

About the Author

Jessica S. Olson claims New Hampshire as her home, but has somehow found herself in Texas, where she spends most of her time singing praises to the inventor of the air conditioner. When she's not hiding from the heat, she's corralling her three wild—but adorable—children, dreaming up stories about kissing and murder and magic, and eating peanut butter by the spoonful straight from the jar. She earned a bachelor’s in English with minors in editing and French, which essentially means she spent all of her university time reading and eating French pastries. Sing Me Forgotten is her debut novel.

Jessica is represented by Christa Heschke of McIntosh & Otis Literary Agency.

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