Review: Roses and Rot by Kat Howard
Published by Saga Press on May 17th 2016
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.
So the thing about real fairy tales is that they tend to have a dark side to them. The fae are not all about making dreams come true, at least not without some sort of price. Roses and Rot is no exception. Imogen and her sister Marin have not had an easy or comfortable life, growing up with an abusive mother that was bad enough they would dream of fairy tales, dark side and all. What could be worse than a mother that is cruel and potentially violent?
Imogen and her sister shared a history and a family, but they were also very different. Imogen is more of an observer, introspective and finds release in creating stories (and fairy tales) of her own. Her sister Marin, with her fair looks, finds herself in the spotlight and excels at dance. Even their mother showed a preference for Marin, saving the worst of her abusive for Imogen. Because of this, Imogen saves and finds a way to go away to school, unfortunately leaving her sister behind.
Years later, when fate lands them both a place at a prestigious post-grad arts school, the sisters are thrilled. They will be together and will most importantly, out of reach of their mother. This is where the story really starts. The school almost seems too good to be true, and you know what they say about that! I am going to skip the details because I believe discovering them is part of the fun of the book. Be sure, there is more to this school than meets the eye. And as the tale spins into a fairy tale of its own, be sure that it is not all light and happiness. There exists a depth and darkness that also lends beauty to the story.
The relationships between the sisters and between them and others at the school are very interesting. When it comes down to it, this was just a very enjoyable, fascinating tale of two sisters who find themselves in the middle of their own fairy tale complete with the good and the bad that go along with the fae. Roses and Rot is a captivating book, with characters that I quickly cared about and a story that brings the fae to life. I definitely recommend it.