Finished September 25
Roses and Rot by Kat Howard
This tale of two sisters drew me in and didn't let go. Imogen is older than Marin by two years. They lived under the influence of a very controlling mother, one who used not only physical punishments, but verbal and emotional ones in an attempt to keep them under her influence and drive a wedge between them. Imogen has always used her writing to escape her reality, and has had some success with it. Marin is a dancer, with natural skill, but also dedication and constant pressure by her mother to succeed.
Imogen managed to get away more that a decade before this story begins, first to boarding school and then to college, but her mother never stopped trying to draw her back into her sphere of control. Marin has heard about an artists' retreat, Melete, in New Hampshire, where artists apply and are chosen for a nine month stay to focus on their work with the assistance of a personal mentor. She urges Imogen to apply at the same time, partly so the sisters can come back together for the first time in years.
The women discover that Melete is both more than and less than they expected. Strange things happen, they see things that don't seem believable, and they begin to understand that this is a place where the human world and the world of Faerie come together and the Faerie world exacts a price for this opportunity.
Howard brings this world to life, the stardust and the darkness, the giving of power and the drawing of energy. The artists that come here will never be the same, and no one who hasn't been will ever truly understand. And, of course, some of them may never return to the lives they imagined for themselves.
I read this book voraciously, not wanting to put it down until I reached the ending. I cared about the characters and their dreams and wanted to see what happened to them as their stay at Melete progressed and came to an end. A great read.