Published by Catnip Publishing in January
Take a look in a mirror.
What do you see? A nose that's too large, or skin marked with freckles like paint splashes from a brush? Perhaps eyes that seem sunken and dark, an expression of gloom baked hard on the mouth? Whatever you see, staring at your reflection for too long is rarely a comfortable experience for all but the fairest of us. We prefer only fleeting glimpses of ourselves, long enough to brush our hair or wash our faces.
'Paint what you see, Johann; not what you think you see.' This is the advice that Hugo, master portrait painter, gives to his protege, Johann. But Johann's talent for painting the truth runs deeper than anyone can ever imagine. Johann soon discovers how changing the portraits he paints, can change the lives of his subjects- from fixing the pox-marked skin of a lowly serving girl, to changing the course of history by painting a petulant and spoiled heir to the empire as a noble ruler. But with the power to bring good fortune to those around him, Johann is soon tempted to change his own...
From the beginning of the book I was sucked into the atmospheric world created by the author. The author has a way of making you feel like you have stepped into the story as all your senses are hit at once. The story unravels beautifully and leaves you with a unsuspecting twist that I don't think I have ever come across before. This book has a real Dickensian feel to it and reminded me a little of The Picture of Dorian Grey by Oscar Wilde.
My favourite characters had to be Hugo and his wife. I really felt that they tried their hardest to create a stable and loving environment for Johann to grow up in, but like most teenagers he rebelled. Unfortunately he suffered because of his choice of actions. I found I struggled to warm to Johann. I couldn't help but find him foolish in his actions. Definitely a case of pride comes before a fall as he realises his potential and enjoys the opportunities it created. I wanted to give him a good shaking to make him see what just might happen. I know I should feel sorry for him, as he lost out on a childhood, after becoming an apprentice so young, but he just annoyed me.
I love the idea of this book. The thought of being able to change one's future by altering a painting is really an excellent idea. It is definitely an interesting topic to play with. I was surprised how the ending turned out, I would never suspected it would end is such a way. I was also expecting a love interest to occur after the friendship between Johann and Matje developed as it was quite obvious how they felt about each other.
This is a book that can easily be devoured in one sitting. I loved how the story played out as well as the detailed descriptions that brought the book to life. If you like books similar to The Blackhope Enigma by Teresa Flavin, then you will definitely enjoy this one. It is short book, yet bursting with detail and extremely atmospheric.