Publisher: Atria Books
Source: NetGalley and publisher for review
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.My thoughts:
This is the follow up to The Witch of Painted Sorrows (my review linked) which I overall enjoyed but had a few problems within the characters. I have to admit I don't fully remember what they were exactly but I had no such problems with this book. I do remember enough of the last book to see where this one had been and where it was going and I was not lost. I enjoyed all the characters, even those less than kind but actually harmful.
This is a story of one of the daughters from the last book. She has the gift of lithomancy and can hear and feel the energy of stones, especially gemstones. She becomes a jeweler who also helps those who have lost loved ones to the war. She is able to create a talisman for the individual and hear the departed's last message to the one who is left behind. This message has allowed countless people to move on as well as the spirit. In this book, the spirit is trapped by the grief of their loved ones. Opaline also does not fully accept her gift nor her place as a La Lune daughter and this gets in the way of how she has chosen to live her life. She lives it though giving to others but has a hard time replenishing herself.
I think that is the most interesting aspect to the book. The romance that is woven through the book is light (and has a wicked twist) and is really there to move Opaline's transformation along. There is a running mystery with the bolsheviks and the Romanov family which lends a rich history to the telling. There are a couple of twists (one is the romance I just mentioned) but both are easily figured out. This does not take away from the story and it makes sense that Opaline doesn't see it when the reader sees what lurks behind. We are the observers and not the players so our vision isn't as hindered as it would be if we were Opaline.
I give this book 4 stars. It was gripping and even though twists were easily discovered it did not take away from the overall storyline. I recommend it to those that like psychic, historical romance books. :)