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A powerful tale of magic, art, and the fae

Roses and Rot

by Kate Howard

Saga Press

Sci Fi & Fantasy

Pub Date: May 17, 2016


Be careful what you wish for, for those with the power to grant those wishes can be capricious and cruel.

Roses and Rot is a book for those who love fairy tales. Not the simple ones with happy endings, but the older kind, where the kindly folk are rarely kind and beauty deceives, where the only tools one has against their power are creativity and determination. This is a tale of magic, of the beauty and innovation of art, and the all-consuming hunger for success. This is a tale of love and sacrifice. What would you trade? What would you be willing to give up for all your dreams to come true? How far would you go to prove yourself worthy? Herein lies the core of Roses and Rot, and here lies its power.

Themes from fairy tales echo repeatedly throughout the novel. Within the suffering Imogen and her sister endure at the hands of their mother before coming to Melete; within the stories Imogen writes; within what they endure at Melete. I was astounded by the power of Kat Howard’s writing, and captivated not only by the story of Imogen and Marin, but also by the stories Imogen tells. They are both dark and intensely beautiful. Each page echoed the stories of the past, of the Wild Hunt and Thomas the Rhymer. At the same time, however, Kat Howard’s voice shined through, weaving her own unique tale from forgotten threads.

Such an imaginative tale of magic, creativity, and love is deserving of acclaim.


Kat Howard’s debut novel Roses and Rot is available for preorder and will be released May 17, 2016.

I received a copy of Roses and Rot from the publisher and in exchange for an honest review.



Imogen and her sister Marin escape their cruel mother to attend a prestigious artists’ retreat, but soon learn that living in a fairy tale requires sacrifices, whether it be art or love in this haunting debut novel from “a remarkable young writer” (Neil Gaiman).

What would you sacrifice for everything you ever dreamed of?

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.

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