July 18, 2017
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In this riveting and richly drawn novel from “one of the master storytellers of historical fiction” (New York Times bestseller Beatriz Williams), a talented young artist flees New York for Paris after one of her scandalous drawings reveals a dark secret—and triggers a terrible tragedy.
In the wake of a dark and brutal World War, the glitz and glamour of 1925 Manhattan shine like a beacon for the high society set, which is desperate to keep their gaze firmly fixed to the future. But Delphine Duplessi sees more than most. At a time in her career when she could easily be unknown and penniless, like so many of her classmates from L’École de Beaux Arts, in America she has gained notoriety for her stunning “shadow portraits” that frequently expose her subjects’ most scandalous secrets—for better or for worse. Most nights Delphine doesn’t mind that her gift has become mere entertainment—a party trick—for the fashionable crowd. Though her ancestor La Lune, the legendary sixteenth-century courtesan and—like Delphine—a witch, might have thought differently.
Then, on a snowy night in February, in a penthouse high above Fifth Avenue, Delphine’s mystical talent leads to a tragedy between two brothers. Horrified, she renounces her gift.
Devastated and disconsolate, Delphine returns to her old life in the south of France where Picasso, Matisse, and the Fitzgeralds are summering. There, Delphine is thrust into recapturing the past. First by her charismatic twin brother and business manager Sebastian in his attempts to cajole her back to work and into co-dependence, then by the world famous opera singer Emma Calvé, who is obsessed with the centuries-old Book of Abraham, written by the fourteenth-century alchemist Nicolas Flamel. And finally by her ex-lover Mathieu, who is determined to lure her back into his arms, unaware of the danger that had led Delphine to flee Paris for New York five years before.
Trapped in an ancient chateau where hidden knowledge lurks in the shadows, Delphine questions and in many ways rejects what and who she loves the most—her art, her magick, her family, her brother, and Mathieu—as she tries to finally accept them as the gifts they are and to shed her fear of loving and living with her eyes wide open.
The Library of Light and Shadow is the third Daughters of La Lune novel, following The Witch of Painted Sorrows and The Secret Language of Stones. The books do not need to be read in order, but I definitely recommend reading, at least, the first book, The Witch of Painted Sorrows first; it is where everything started and introduces readers - and the characters - to La Lune and what being one of her descendants means. I did notice that, beyond that, M.J. Rose seemed careful not to include things in The Library of Light and Shadow that was spoilery for The Secret Language of Stones.
As much as I wanted to know more about those characters, now that several years have passed, I also liked that you could read that second book after reading this one, the third. (Opaline's story was fantastic and should be read, before or after Delphine's.)
I loved that this story took place both in France and in New York. It was a nice echo of that first book, with Sandrine. With the story taking place in 1925, but Delphine's sort-of diary giving us a window into five years earlier, we start with the after effect of something and get to see ohw deeply it's impacted her life, before really seeing what happened. Or what came before and thus why it affected her so.
I loved that this book does show us more of Delphine's family's life - both pieces of their childhood and now, in the present, than either of the first two books did. It not only felt like a nice epilogue of sorts to Sandrine's story but really connected teh characters form all three books that much more.
There was one element, in regards to a character and what they were really about, that was hinted at in quite a heavy handed way. It didn't 'ruin' anything so much as it left me qondering why other characters weren't catching on, as well.
I really loved how some characters we might have met, albeit (usually) briefly, in the first two Daughters of La Lune novels played more of role here and how their past and/or relationships were also a part of the story or how Delphine interacted with them.
I thoroughly enjoyed The Library of Light and Shadow and seeing even more of what being a Daughter of La Lune means and getting to know more of the women (and to better know the men, too) in this family. It is a wonderful mystery, a great romance and a wonderful piece of historical fiction.
Now there has to be a fourth book about the youngest Duplessi sister, Jadine - there has to be. (And those mentions of Victor Hugo have me really wanting to read the author's Seduction.)
digital review copy received from publisher, via NetGalley