Author: Jessica S. Olson
Series: n/a
Series #: n/a
Genre: fantasy
Age Group: young adult
ARC?: no

Myra Whitlock has a gift. One many would kill for.

She’s an artist whose portraits alter people’s real-life bodies, a talent she must hide from those who would kidnap, blackmail, and worse in order to control it. 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. Desperate, Myra ventures to his legendary stone mansion.

Once she arrives, however, it becomes clear the boy’s death was no accident. Someone dangerous lurks within these glittering halls. Someone harboring a disturbing obsession with portrait magic.

Myra cannot do the painting until she knows what really happened, so she turns to the governor’s older son, a captivating redheaded poet. Together, they delve into the family’s most shadowed affairs, racing to uncover the truth before the secret Myra spent her life concealing makes her the killer’s next victim.


Review

When I guessed what Owlcrate’s March pick would be, I was excited. I was very much looking forward to this book. Let me preface this by saying I think the book was good, but it wasn’t blow me away good. This is a book that was a solid three stars; neither bad nor super good. If I’d read this before buying it, it wouldn’t have been a book I bought. Checked out from the library, for sure! So…where did this book go wrong? 

The inspiration for this book was clearly Dorian Gray. I mean magic portraits that fix people? But I did love the interpretation of that into magic for this book. What I would have liked more of is worldbuilding. My mind bounced between this being a real world with magic, or a fantasy world. I would have liked a better setting to set the tone and to understand the world a bit better. 

I liked Lucy and Myra’s relationship throughout the book, I thought it was one of the more powerful components of the book. I also felt August’s anxiety intensely, and when they were talking about Lucy’s chronic illness, I understood that too. So there was some excellent representation in this book. (I really kind of want to know what Lucy’s illness actually was – it sounds a lot like my Crohn’s Disease). 

What I didn’t love was the romance in this book. It felt underdeveloped to me compared to the sisterly and family relationships. I could have lived without it, as I didn’t feel that August and Myra had any chemistry whatsoever. And that weird love triangle? Messy! And definitely did not enjoy that part of the book. 

Maybe it’s because I’m an adult, I had pretty much figured out what was going on from the start. Which isn’t always a bad thing; however in this case there wasn’t enough depth to the other parts of the book to make me think that it was a great book. 

Finally, I found the writing clunky. It did not flow smoothly to me, and I felt that we were ricocheted around. The writing was stilted to me. Overall, I just felt that the writing didn’t work. 

This book was not a bad book, but it also isn’t one I’d be desperate to read again. This book will be enjoyed by people who are fond of gothic mysteries, as well as fantasy.  

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