As the Great War rages, a talented jeweler with a psychic affinity for stones creates mourning talismans with messages for those left behind, which leads her to a ghostly romance and a dangerous rendezvous with a tragic Russian exile.
Opaline Duplessi has come to Paris to work with the famous jeweler Pavel Orloff at his Palais Royale shop, La Fantaisie Russe. Orloff studied under Fabergé in Russia, and his Paris store has become a haven for émigrés fleeing Russia after the revolution. Opaline has become his most prized apprentice, since his own three sons may not survive the war. Opaline is from a family with a supernatural heritage and has discovered her own magick, an ability to psychically connect with stones. She has gained a quiet reputation as a mystic who fashions mourning jewelry for loved ones of fallen soldiers and offers them some peace through final messages gleaned from the pieces. When a soldier’s mother requests one, Opaline discovers a special connection to the woman’s son, a journalist before the war who wrote dispatches from the trenches. Never before has Opaline’s gift manifested in a bond beyond the final message, but with Jean Luc, Opaline remains tied to him in a way she doesn’t understand and which begins to make her question her sanity. Meanwhile, word of the assassination of Czar Nicholas II reaches the loyalists in Paris, and the dowager empress requests a meeting with Opaline in the hope she can discern whether the rest of her family is alive or dead. Making a dangerous trek to England, Opaline discovers a plot against the Russian royal and may be the only one who can save her, though it risks her tenuous relationship to a ghost she is loath to relinquish. Rose follows up The Witch of Painted Sorrows (2015) with Sandrine’s daughter’s story, set against the tragic yet exquisite canvases of Paris, the Great War, and the Russian Revolution, and offers fascinating historical tidbits in the midst of bright, imaginative storytelling and complex, supernatural worldbuilding.
A compelling, heart-wrenching, creative, and intricate read.