The Secret Language of Stones by M.J. Rose
Publication Date: July 19, 2016
Hardcover & eBook; 320 Pages
Series: The Daughters of La Lune, Book Two
Genre: Historical Fiction/Fantasy
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).
“A spellbinding ghost story that communicates the power of love and redemption through Rose's extraordinary, magical lens.” (Alyson Richman, internationally bestselling author of The Lost Wife)
The Secret Language of Stones is another hit by author M. J. Rose. I fell in love with the story of Sandrine and the gifts passed down by her ancestor La Lune in The Witch of Painted Sorrows, so it was easy for me to pick right back up with the story of Sandrine’s daughter, Opaline, in this novel. I love that M.J. Rose’s novels have major elements of magic, spiritualism, and the supernatural, yet I still feel like I'm reading a historical fiction novel. The existence of La Lune and her history is woven seamlessly into this novel, and the author shows the effects that La Lune's inherited “gifts” have on the lives of Opaline and her mother, Sandrine. I love that Ms. Rose is able to do this in a way that makes it completely believable. I usually am not a huge fan of novels that involve the supernatural, but it works perfectly with both The Witch of Painted Sorrows and The Secret Language of Stones. It also helps that the historical aspects of this (and the last) novel are so well-written. It’s obvious that it was well researched, and being that I am not overly familiar with the background of World War I, this novel really helped me to see the war from the viewpoint of someone who was right in the midst of it. Opaline’s character is definitely a favorite of mine. The relationships that she has with others, flesh and blood or other, are easy for readers to relate to. It’s easy to connect with Opaline, and to in a way share the experiences she is having while she learns how the secrets of her heritage fit into her life.
This novel takes the reader through war-torn Paris, at the height of World War I, through Opaline’s relationships with those grieving for their lost soldiers, and on to her interactions with Russian royalty. While dealing with all the upheaval around her and in her life, Opaline is also learning more about her heritage and how to use her gifts from La Lune. A lot is covered in this novel, but I never felt rushed, or that the author skimped on the story to fit everything into this novel. The transitions were smooth, and the book is written in a way that allows the reader to become lost within its pages for long periods of time. There is romance, intrigue, mystery, the supernatural, magick, and much, much more in The Secret Language of Stones, and I highly recommend that anyone who is looking for a good read purchase it immediately. This is the second novel in The Daughters of La Lune series, but it can definitely be read as a standalone. However, the first novel in the series, The Witch of Painted Sorrows, is amazing as well, so I would definitely suggest reading both books!
There is no way that I can give this novel anything less than a FIVE out of FIVE stars. It honestly includes everything that makes a book interesting and easy to read, not to mention, the cover of print edition of the book is gorgeous! Amazing job M.J. Rose, I look forward to your next novel!
About the AuthorM.J. Rose grew up in New York City mostly in the labyrinthine galleries of the Metropolitan Museum, the dark tunnels and lush gardens of Central Park and reading her mother’s favorite books before she was allowed.
She is the author of more than a dozen novels, the co-president and founding board member of International Thriller Writers and the founder of the first marketing company for authors: AuthorBuzz.com. She lives in Greenwich, Connecticut. Visit her online at MJRose.com.
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Review at The Lit Bitch
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