A Forgery of Roses by Jessica S. Olson
Page count: 397
Publisher: Inkyard Press
Publication date: March 29, 2022
Age group: YA
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.
From Sing Me Forgotten author Jessica S. Olson comes a gothic fantasy murder mystery perfect for fans of Kerri Maniscalco and Erin A. Craig.
As soon as I read the synopsis I was extremely excited to read A Forgery of Roses! The premise was unique and interesting, and I read it the first opportunity I got. Stalking Jack the Ripper meets The Picture of Dorian Gray?? Yes please, absolutely! Unfortunately, it fell a little short of what it wanted to accomplish. I can see all the great ideas that went into it, but they got all muddled up in the execution.
The characters are where Jessica S. Olson had the greatest chance of selling me and she got me about three-quarters of the way there. I loved Lucy and her relationship with Myra! The bonds between the two were palpable and that single relationship simultaneously brought so much levity and despair into the story. I honestly didn’t like August at first (which is weird because he’s exactly my type) but I warmed up to him over the course of the novel. Myra herself was a great MC and did a great job centering the cast of characters.
The magic system in A Forgery of Roses was really unique! I loved the whole idea of sevren, which are described as “soul threads” and the discovery and manipulation of them through painting. I will add though–the religion created for this story is really weird. It’s really just a plot device to make Prodigies (people who can manipulate sevren by painting) outcasts, but it definitely weirded me out when they attempted to explain it.
Okay I’m sorry but I have to add one more thing real quick that is probably not that important in the grand scheme of things but bothered me to no end. So Myra’s trying to figure out how this guy died, right? So she’s looking at the body and she’s like “hmmm he fell off a balcony so it had to be blunt force trauma.” And then she finds this super suspicious-looking wound she identifies as a KNIFE WOUND and goes “yep! Blunt force trauma!” And continues with her day. I MEAN WHAT????? GIRL–