Book Review: A Forgery of Roses by Jessica S. Olson

About the Book:

Title: A Forgery of Roses

Author: Jessica S. Olson

Page Length: 368

Publication Date: March 1, 2021

Publisher: Inkyard Press

Synopsis: 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.

LINKS:   Goodreads   |    Amazon

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My Review:

The premise of A Forgery of Roses is so unique – Myra Whitlock is a Prodigy, an artist who can alter a person’s body through painting. It is a dangerous gift that Myra keeps hidden, even more so since other Prodigies, including her mother, have gone missing. When the Governor’s wife learns of Myra’s gift, she offers Myra a choice – save her son and earn a large sum of money or be turned in to the authorities. Myra’s been caring for her younger, ill sister ever since their parents’ disappearances, and the money offered would get Myra’s sister the medical attention she so desperately needs. However, when Myra goes to the Governor’s house, she becomes immersed in a mystery much more dangerous than she ever expected. Can Myra trust August, the Governor’s other son, and what really happened to August’s brother? The more secrets Myra learns, the more her life becomes endangered.

The story has a darker, Gothic feel to it, and it is atmospheric and ominous from the very first lines. I love Olson’s writing style! It’s so immersive and vivid, and I found myself pulled into the story pretty quickly. I also really like the idea of being able to change one’s physical appearance or health through art. It’s such a unique, potentially dangerous, and fascinating concept. Secrets and mystery surrounding August and his family, as well as many twists and turns and secrets on top of lies, adds to the darker mood and Gothic feel of the story.

In contrast to the dark, Gothic elements, Myra’s relationship with her sister is the bright spot in the story. Their sisterly bond is really strong, and it is what motivates Myra throughout the story. They have such a wonderful bond, and they are very close. Myra loves her sister more than anything, and she will do whatever it takes to help her get well, even if means putting her own life on the line. This sibling relationship contrasts with August’s relationship with his brother, which is described as turbulent at best.

I like the anxiety rep and the young man dealing with it. Surrounded by many people who don’t support him or understand anxiety, he faces a lot of his challenges alone. I thought that the author did a great job of realistically showing how anxiety affects people. This character makes a really powerful point when he says, “Just because my battles aren’t visible doesn’t mean they aren’t as real or as difficult as yours.” His character, and others in the story, show that internal struggles are just as significant and complex as external, and I love that.

The book also makes some really interesting points about social class, the inequities of health care among people of different socio-economic backgrounds, society’s fear of the unknown, people’s willingness to vilify those who don’t conform to societal norms and expectations, and more. Myra’s desperation to earn enough money to get proper health care for her sister, as well as their impoverished living conditions, for example, stand in stark contrast to the opulence of the Governor’s home and life. Also, Myra’s constant fear of being exposed, people’s reaction to her phenomenal ability, and the hesitation in being with someone of a different class highlight themes of prejudice, control, and more. I thought these themes and messages were thought-provoking and developed, adding even more layers to a well-layered story.

I really enjoyed this book. It is unique, the premise is super intriguing, the writing is immersive, the mystery is unpredictable, and the sibling relationship is strong. Plus, there’s a bit of romance that totally keeps you guessing. I would definitely recommend the novel to readers who enjoy YA fantasy with mystery and romance and am so thankful to NetGalley, the author, and Inkyard Press for sending a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.


Favorite Parts:

  • The twists and turns.
  • The unique magic.
  • The characters.

Favorite Lines:

Just because my battles aren’t visible doesn’t mean they aren’t as real or as difficult as yours.

My being afraid does not lessen my passion for the things I care about.

I’ve been walking around like a dead man for what feels like centuries, and now here you are, this explosion of life. Suddenly I remember what it feels like to breathe again. To laugh. To wake up with hope.

If love were magic, it would have saved us long ago.

I’m done minimizing my greatness so you can feel superior.

Perfection comes from leaning into the things that we have to fight for because those are the things that bind us to the people worth keeping.


6 thoughts on “Book Review: A Forgery of Roses by Jessica S. Olson

  1. I’d heard of this one, but hadn’t looked into it too much. It sounds like a really unique YA Fantasy, you pointed out a lot of elements that interest me, also the premise is so interesting. Wonderful review! <3

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