MJ Rose's The Secret Language of Stones: Review and Excerpt
THE SECRET LANGUAGE OF STONES is a stunning historical gothic romantic suspense published by Atria, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, releasing on July 19th. Written to be a total and complete standalone novel, THE SECRET LANGUAGE OF STONES is the second title in M.J. Rose’s The Daughters of La Lune Series. Sexy, compelling, and seductive, be sure to grab your copy today!
"The most powerful book I've read this year! Seductive, compelling, and beautifully written." ~New York Times bestseller Melissa Foster
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).
Here in the dark, as the kerosene burns, I try to summon your perfume and pretend I smell it instead of this stink. All around us, all the time, lives are lost. Every minute of every hour of every day and night. We steel ourselves from what we do as we carry the wounded out of danger, getting their blood on our hands, our boots, our uniforms . . . as we ship them off to the temporary field hospitals or, worse, send them back home for burials. We try not to think of the dead who we have no choice but to bury here on the battlefield.
Breathe, breathe, I tell myself, when the enormity of the loss overwhelms me. When I think of the achievements the world will never know. What great novel will never be written because its author was blown up. What wonderful painting that could have brought such joy will never be painted because its artist has expired after losing too much blood.
We march on roads and through fields that have become cemeteries. Nothing picturesque and peaceful like the ones we have at home. There are no graceful cobblestone paths here. No stained glass windows in artful mausoleums.
There is no romance in the impromptu graveyards at the front. Nothing like Père-Lachaise in Paris. If I were home, I would escort you there today. It is a perfect place to ruminate on love. Shall you go for me?
The first tomb I want you to visit is on avenue Casimir Périer, the same name as the tiny street in the 6th arrondissement, but here it is in the seventh section. You will see it from a distance for it is one of the tallest monuments in the area.
When you arrive, pause to take in its melancholy grandeur. Then stroll around its perimeter, peer inside its open arches at the two stone effigies, lovers sleeping side by side on their funeral biers.
Peter Abelard was a twelfth-century philosopher and theologian at the cathedral school of Notre-Dame. Considered the boldest thinker of his time, he was quite famous. Héloïse, the niece of a secular canon named Fulbert, was a young woman renowned for her brilliant prose writing, who spoke Latin, Greek, and Hebrew. Yearning to learn even more, she persuaded her uncle to hire Abelard to teach her.
At thirty-nine, despite his fame and popularity, Abelard remained chaste. Héloïse, in her early twenties, was as well.
The great meeting of their minds led to a meeting of their souls and eventually their flesh, even though the political and religious climates of their time forbid their being together.
Abelard wrote he was “all on fire” for Héloïse and decided “she is the one to bring to my bed.”
Despite knowing sex was a sin, neither could resist and they met in secret, insatiable, they both wrote, exploring each other with a passion that until then they’d devoted solely to their intellect.
“My hands strayed more often to her bosom than to the pages, love drew our eyes to look on each other more than reading kept them on our texts,” Abelard wrote.
And then Héloïse became pregnant.
“Oh, how great was the uncle’s grief when he learned the truth, and how bitter was the sorrow of the lovers when we were forced to part!” Abelard wrote.
To protect Héloïse, Abelard took her to Brittany. There, they wed in secret and she went to stay with the nuns in a convent in Argenteuil while Abelard returned to Paris to make amends. But Héloïse’s uncle, believing Abelard had cast off his niece, greeted him by having him brutally beaten and castrated.
Compared to our time, the Middle Ages were so unforgiving. So patriarchal. Humiliated, Abelard resigned as a teacher and became a monk. Héloïse, believing she was without other options, gave up her child and became a nun. And yet their love didn’t wither, didn’t die.
Rating/Review: A clear 4 cups of calming tea that keeps its secrets hidden, slowly revealed, sip by sip of mysticism, suspense and a love that defies logic.
Readers who loved M.J. Rose's The Witch of Painted Sorrows will simply adore The Secret Language of Stones. Although it displays less of a gothic suspense tone than the first book, the second offering from The Daughters of La Lune series will clearly captivate readers with its slowly unfolding paranormal mystery. Opaline, daughter to Sandrine, is clearly a woman with powers herself but unlike her mother, she shies away from how dark those powers could be. But the song of the stones cannot be ignored and the call of a man from some other plane is as seductive. The Secret Language of Stones is captivating, entertaining and in many ways as powerful as the stones it speaks for.
A dazzling mix of history, mystery and mystical arts . . . Rose's paranormal historical bewitches from start to finish. Her amazing ability to make her story line believable and her extraordinary protagonist relatable result in an unforgettable psychic thriller." (Library Journal (Starred review)
"An exciting mix of adventure, intrigue, and romance in this thrilling historical tale." (Booklist)
“Haunting, spellbinding, captivating; Rose's story of the power of love and redemption is masterful. More than a romance or ghost story, this is a tale of a young woman learning to embrace her unique qualities...So carefully crafted and beautifully written, readers will believe in the magical possibilities of love transcending time.” (RT Magazine (Top Pick)
“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.” (Kirkus Reviews)
And Don’t Miss the First Book in The Daughters of La Lune Series, THE WITCH OF PAINTED SORROWS!
Daughter of La Lune Pendant Giveaway!
We're celebrating the release of THE SECRET LANGUAGE OF STONES by giving away a beautiful Daughter of La Lune pendant. Designed by Cadsawan Jewelry, the silver pendant contains a labradorite, a magical stone excellent for awakening one's own awareness of inner spirit, intuition, and psychic abilities.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
New York Times Bestseller, M.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 believes mystery and magic are all around us but we are too often too busy to notice… books that exaggerate mystery and magic draw attention to it and remind us to look for it and revel in it.
Rose’s work has appeared in many magazines including Oprah Magazine and she has been featured in the New York Times, Newsweek, WSJ, Time, USA Today and on the Today Show, and NPR radio. Rose graduated from Syracuse University, spent the ’80s in advertising, has a commercial in the Museum of Modern Art in NYC and since 2005 has run the first marketing company for authors – Authorbuzz.com
The television series PAST LIFE, was based on Rose’s novels in the Reincarnationist series. She is one of the founding board members of International Thriller Writers and currently serves, with Lee Child, as the organization’s co-president.
Rose lives in CT with her husband the musician and composer, Doug Scofield, and their very spoiled and often photographed dog, Winka.
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