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).
I have been a huge fan of M.J Rose for a few years now. Her writing is just magic…yes that is a play on words. The novels I have read by her are about the dark arts or about mystical realms. Not usually my genre, however M.J. Rose keeps me captivated. The way she takes me through many experiences with interwoven history is pure enchantment.
Opaline is a jeweler in WWI. She takes stones, personalizes them, makes amulets then hears messages from the dead soldiers. Until the one soldier who becomes a part of her world.
The characters are so real for me in this novel (even the ghost). Opaline’s fears, loves, and excitements all charmed me and just made the image of her so complete. The setting is another magical arena. Opaline helps many a grieving woman with these amulets. When she helps a Russian aristocrat, it opens her eyes about many things! I wanted to hear more about Russian Revolution, maybe in the next novel.
The story takes some weird turns for me. This is the only reason for the 4 stars. Most people who read fantasy would not think it is weird. It was a turn off for me but, like I said earlier, I was so wrapped up in the characters and the setting, it was just a bump in the road!
I received this novel from Netgalley for a honest review.