Author: M.J Rose
Publisher: Atria Books
Part of a Series: The Daughters of La Lune
Type of book: France, WWI, mother/daughter relationships, White Russians, Revolution of 1917, 1918-1919, magick, witchcraft, special powers, lithomancy, gemstones, opulence, wealth, mentoring, Paris, coming-of-age, running away, rumors, thriller, travel, love letters, death and life, energy
Year it was published: 2016
As World War I rages and the Romanov dynasty reaches its sudden, brutal end, a young jewelry maker discovers love, passion, and her own healing powers in this rich and romantic ghost story, the perfect follow-up to M.J. Rose’s “brilliantly crafted” (Providence Journal) novel The Witch of Painted Sorrows.
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. Full of romance, seduction, and a love so powerful it reaches beyond the grave, The Secret Language of Stones is yet another “spellbindingly haunting” (Suspense magazine), “entrancing read that will long be savored” (Library Journal, starred review).
The main character is Opaline Duplessi, daughter of Sandrine. She is the eldest and has a mixed gift of receiving messages from various gemstones as well as spirits. She uses her powers to create powerful necklaces for women who have lost someone special in their lives due to the Great War. She is conflicted, lost and seems to be uncertain of what she is looking for or what she wants. She also sees the necklaces as her way of paying back and contributing to the war effort. There is also the Orloff family who came over from Russia and are White Russians who specialize in creating exquisite jewelry. The wife, Anna, is fascinated by supernatural while the husband is obsessed with creating gemstones. Timur had strong feelings for Opaline which weren't reciprocated and his elder half brother Grigori also is conflicted adn uncertain of what he wants. Jean Luc is a writer of love letters that needs Opaline's help in trying to cross over and to come to terms of what happened to him during the Great War.
Life comes in different disguises
The story is in first person narrative from Opaline's point of view. What I really liked was getting to know France during the Great War and learning even more about it. I also found it interesting to see how White Russians learned and survived after the Romanov Dynasty had died out. However, the supernatural elements went a bit over my head and some things weren't explained well, or the explanations were a bit sloppy; one being the painting that Opaline receives and its myriad of meanings and others on the conflict she has between herself and what her mother desires her to be.
(From back of the book)
M.J Rose is the New York Times bestselling author of more than a dozen novels, the co-president and founding board member of International Thriller Writers, and the founder of the fisrt marketing company for authors, AuthorBuzz.com She lives in Greenwich, Connecticut. Visit her online at MJRose.com
I am sad to report that I was disappointed in this story. Previously I have read The Witch of Painted Sorrows which was both astonishing and had a strange hypnotic beauty that couldn't let the reader go. This time around, there was lack of hypnotic atmosphere along with a memorable character, and if I might mention a minor complaint, but the character's background in the story is that of her mother's; too many events that happened to her happened to her mother. Also as well, it's good as a stand-alone novel which means reading The Witch of Painted Sorrows is optional and not a requirement. Unfortunately as well, I also found it a bit predictable and it didn't seem as compelling as I had hoped.
This is for France Book Tours
3 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)