- Hardcover: 320 pages
- Publisher: Saga Press (May 17, 2016)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1481451162
- ISBN-13: 978-1481451161
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.1 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 89 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #255,726 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Roses and Rot Hardcover – May 17, 2016
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"Kat Howard is a remarkable young writer, and she's written a powerful first novel, as strong as Emma Bull's War For The Oaks. This is a book about family, about the price we’re willing to pay for art, and the strange music and haunting glades of faerie." (Neil Gaiman , bestselling author of American Gods and The Ocean at the End of the Lane)
Howard weaves a dark and enticing tale of sisterly bonds, fairypromises, and the price of artistic success in this lushly written debutfantasy set in the present-day U.S. As a child, Imogen was certain that nofairy tale stepmother could possibly be crueler than her own mother, acontrolling tyrant. Fortunately, Imogen and her younger sister, Marin, escapedto pursue their dreams: Imogen as a writer, Marin a dancer. After seven yearsapart, the women are reunited when both are selected to be fellows at Melete, aprestigious artist colony in rural New Hampshire. Melete’s fantastical campusseems perfect, but the sisters learn it’s hiding an extraordinary secret:Melete’s creative energy feeds the Fair Folk. Every seven years, the mostpromising Fellow is taken to live in Faery—and Imogen and Marin are shortlistedfor this dubious honor. Howard’s characters are deftly drawn, and her writingis seductive as fairy magic. This story will resonate with readers long afterthe last page. (Publishers Weekly *STARRED REVIEW* April 4, 2016)
The realm of fairy tales meets the harsh world of the Fae in this starkly enticing debut. With undercurrents of darkness in the midst of the beauty of the arts, this is a Brothers Grimm tale for the contemporary reader. (Library Journal, *STARRED REVIEW March 15th, 2016)
“Captivating, fiercely smart (about sisters, artists), utterly transporting. I read it so consumingly, it was more akin to swallowing it whole. Not to be missed.” (Megan Abbott , Edgar-winning author of The Fever and You Will Know Me)
“A contemporary dark fantasy full of dark magic, the hidden traps of fairy tales, and painful humanity. I loved every page.” (Christopher Golden , New York Times bestselling author, Dead Ringers and Snowblind)
“Kat Howard seems to possess a magic of her own, of making characters come alive and scenery so vivid, you forget it exists only on the page. Roses and Rot is both beautiful and dark, lovely, and haunting." (Anton Bogomazov , Politics and Prose Bookstore)
"Lyrical writing." (, Booklist)
"This book is a love letter about creating art, directed at artists and creators in general and to the specific stories and authors that have preceded it—from Narnia to Angela Carter, Tam Lin to The Little Mermaid, from Ray Bradbury to Ellen Kushner to Delia Sherman to Neil Gaiman to Terry Pratchett to Maria Tatar." (, Kirkus Reviews)
About the Author
Kat Howard’s short fiction has been nominated for the World Fantasy Award, anthologized in best of and annual best of collections, and performed on NPR. She is the author of the critically acclaimed Roses and Rot. She lives in New Hampshire, and you can find her on twitter at @KatWithSword.
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Be careful how you answer. For the fae in Kat Howard's "Roses and Rot" look beautiful but that's just a glamour. They are in fact utterly alien, driven by their own desperate hunger for the one thing they can never have: true heartfelt feelings -- and they get it from their tithe.. And these fae have fangs and claws. They bite and scratch and do not -- cannot -- care at all for the wounds they leave. Still certain you'll take the risk to gain success? Then apply for a fellowship at Melete.
Howard's first foray into "otherdom" is extraordinarily well-written. Roses and Rot is a meditation on "Once Upon a Time" and "Happily Ever After." Her words are polished jewels, her sentences beautiful and cold and sharp as ice. Highly recommened.
The novel also takes place in a world where the great, respectable, cultured artists of the west work in traditionally lowbrow genres and representational art, but given the central conceit, that's forgivable. Even if I really get a kick out of imagining snooty New Yorker reviews of a musical comedy about a fairy tale in the very serious artist sections.
The writing is solid and often interesting in terms of prose. The characters are well sketched, though occasionally their fractiousness seems to happen more to drive the plot than to further their development. The worldbuilding is certainly competent, though I've run into more effectively creepy fairies and some of the internal mythology was a little incongruent. The plot was Tam Lin, mixed up and backwards. An enjoyable urban fantasy with weird folklore roots and a lot to say about art and personal history.
I liked the book. It was a good read. I love books with Fay. It just isn't one of my favorite.
Should you read it? Unless I give a book one star, I always say give it a try. You may like it more than me. This book is a standalone with no cliffhanger.
The two sisters both want success in their artistic fields more than anything. The questions that become more and more pressing as the novel goes on are, what is each willing to risk to be successful? which is stronger, their love for each other or their jealousy? what happens when each must choose between her sister and her success?
I enjoyed the book very much, and thought the characters were realistic and vibrant. I loved the program's campus and its many mysteries. The several love stories in the book were nuanced, and none had a predictable ending.