Roses and Rot by Kat Howard
Published by Saga Press
Published on: May 17 2016
Genres: Urban Fantasy
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Imogen and her sister Marin have escaped their cruel mother to attend a prestigious artists’ retreat, but soon learn that living in a fairy tale requires sacrifices, be it art or love.
What would you sacrifice in the name of success? How much does an artist need to give up to create great art?
Imogen has grown up reading fairy tales about mothers who die and make way for cruel stepmothers. As a child, she used to lie in bed wishing that her life would become one of these tragic fairy tales because she couldn’t imagine how a stepmother could be worse than her mother now. As adults, Imogen and her sister Marin are accepted to an elite post-grad arts program—Imogen as a writer and Marin as a dancer. Soon enough, though, they realize that there’s more to the school than meets the eye. Imogen might be living in the fairy tale she’s dreamed about as a child, but it’s one that will pit her against Marin if she decides to escape her past to find her heart’s desire.
This book . . . is too magical to give you more information than what is already given in the synopsis.
This is the thing about fairy tales: You have to live through them, before you get to happily ever after. That ever after has to be earned, and not everyone makes it that far.
It’s not a secret that Fae are my favorite. But the reason behind my love of all things Fae is an accidentally given and gleefully received book of fairytales when I was ten(ish) years old.
The book was full of the REAL fairytales, where the creatures were sometimes more lovely than words, sometimes nightmarishly hideous. Where people died, both good and bad, and little girls cut off their fingers to rescue their brothers. Where pregnant women had cravings that cost them their child, and princesses descended hidden staircases to dance nightly with demons.
I loved the cleverness and fortitude of the characters who triumphed over those who would see them dead or worse, and I despised those too weak or too simple to prevail.
Which is why fairytales are responsible for my bloodthirstiness when reading. Fairytales where witches who would eat the children who fell into their traps were instead tricked into their own ovens. Fairytales where men lost their heads after three unsuccessful nights of trying to discover how princesses were wearing out their shoes . . .
ROSES AND ROT by Kat Howard is the story my adult self has been unknowingly longing for ever since my child self first cracked open the pages of that serendipitously given book of fairytales.
The imagery is beautiful:
Late summer’s lazy wind blew through the rose garden I had passed before, bending blossom-heavy heads like dancer’s arms.
The observations, profound:
Practically raised by wolves, we had joked. The monster and the metaphor, and the way they match up that makes the double-edged sword of wit. And then you realize what your words have done, and you weep because you’re both bleeding.
No one’s heart begins as a stone. Hearts are things that beat like birds in a cage, fluttering about, flying away from us at the least provocation.
It’s the story of two sisters, both talented in different ways, both trying to escape their past, and both accepted into a highly prestigious enclave for artists, to hone their craft.
But things are not as they appear.
And that is all you get. If you’re intrigued, I highly recommend that you read ROSES AND ROT by Kat Howard for yourself. Especially if you like fantasy in a modern setting and are drawn to the fairytale-like feeling of books by Juliet Marillier or Uprooted by Naomi Novik.