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A Forgery of Roses by Jessica S Olson Book Review

Updated: Mar 18, 2022

Release Date: March 29, 2022

Star Rating: 4/5 or 7.5/10

Book Boxes: OwlCrate (March 2022), Beacon Book Box (April 2022)


From the author of Sing Me Forgotten comes a lush new fantasy novel with an art-based magic system, 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.

What if you could paint your own reality? Eradicate disease or raise the dead with a brushstroke? Our main character does much, including run for her life in this wonderfully dark and gothic mystery (standalone!) where artistic ability paired with magical gifting can make a person powerful—or the victim of power.

A Forgery of Roses is one of my anticipated reads of 2022, and I’m glad my hopes were not dashed with it. I enjoyed this suspenseful, gothic, supernatural mystery quite a bit.

While A Forgery of Roses is classified as fantasy, I would have to say the plot is more focused on solving the mystery of the murdered governor’s son. The magic system, though pretty well developed and interesting in its own right, serves as a plot device that is intricately interwoven into the world but is not what builds the function of everyday life. In fact, magic wielders in this novel, as the synopsis says, must maintain anonymity or be persecuted heavily by those with power who do not possess any magic.

Myra is an incredibly relatable main character. Though she lives in a world with magical abilities, she struggles like most people and fights fiercely to protect those she loves and endeavors to do so without completely disregarding her own sense of morals to do so. She and her sister live alone, and though she is old enough to work and provide a very meager living for her and her younger sister, she still struggles to meet both of their needs, which is what drives her to agree to the desperate attempt to reanimate the dead.

Though the novel gets started with a bit of info dumping, and I was afraid there would be much of it, it’s very minimal and not all all intrusive to the reading experience. It was very hard to put the book down once I started, as the mystery drove the story at a rapid pace and I found that before I knew it, the culprit was revealed and the conflict was wrapping itself up. I also was delightfully surprised with the villain reveal, as I usually guess who done it well before the end of the novel and read the rest bored to death, but that was certainly not so here.

On the best positive note, this novel is YA that is ACTUALLY YA. It’s not full of coarse language and sexual situations that one would find in adult fiction, but the themes and conflict are certainly more suitable to older readers. I would not recommend this for the younger end of the YA spectrum. It is pretty violent and descriptively so. I will be preordering this one to give to the local library if they do not have the funds to add it to the collection.

My thanks to Inkyard Press via NetGalley for the ARC, for which I willingly give my own opinion.

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