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Review: The Witch of Painted Sorrows by M.J. Rose

About the About

Possession. Power. Passion. New York Times bestselling novelist M.J. Rose creates her most provocative spellbinder to date in this gothic novel set against the lavish backdrop of Belle Époque Paris.

Called an “elegant tale of rare depth and beauty, as brilliantly crafted as it is wondrously told” by the Providence Journal, The Witch of Painted Sorrows “melds the normal and paranormal in the kind of seamless fashion reserved for such classic ghost stories as Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw.”

New York socialite Sandrine Salome flees an abusive husband for her grandmother’s Paris mansion, despite warnings that the lavish family home is undergoing renovation and too dangerous to enter. There Sandrine meets Julien Duplessi, a mesmerizing architect who introduces her to the City of Lights—its art world, forbidden occult underground, nightclubs—and to her own untapped desires.

Soon Sandrine’s threatening husband tracks her down and an insidious spirit takes hold: La Lune, a witch and a legendary sixteenth-century courtesan who exposes Sandrine to a deadly darkness.


A riveting novel of artful intrigue, The Witch of Painted Sorrows does not disappoint. Readers take a journey with Sandrine, a descendant of a long line of Parisian courtesans. Sandrine's life has taken a turn for the worse after the death of her father, due to financial troubles caused by her own husband. Sandrine does not wish to submit to a man she has never loved, so she leaves the country, heading to Paris to find her grandmother.

For readers with more modern sensibilities, we are given a historical fiction novel whose heroine is not simply a passive receptacle of positive and negative happenings, but a willful and intriguing one. Sandrine is knowledgeable when it comes to architecture and art, showing the reader that she is not enthralled by society or by the duties of being a wife. We are pulled along for a ride that is both mystical and mysterious, one that is painted by the beauty and secrets of Paris.

This book does have erotic themes throughout that require the reader to question their origins and whether or not it is brought about by magic or simply by the heart. Sandrine comes across a secret room in her grandmother's home that contains many passionately made, erotic paintings. Coincidence? Doubt it. Sandrine's familial line of courtesans is known for the passion and equally known for the troubles that they will have with men throughout their lives.

Reviewed by Amy Richardson

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