The Secret Language of Stones

Written by M.J. Rose
Review by Anne Clinard Barnhill

The Secret Language of Stones is M. J. Rose’s second novel in the Daughters of La Lune trilogy, which started with the acclaimed book, The Witch of Painted Sorrows. In the first book, the reader met Sandrine Salome, a woman who is seduced by the many pleasures to be found in Belle Epoch Paris. In this volume, the story picks up with Sandrine’s daughter, Opaline, who has powers of her own, as does every daughter of La Lune. Opaline’s power is lithomancy, the ability to translate energy emanating from stones. However, Opaline is not one to think of this ability as “magick.” That would be too much like her mother, and Opaline, like many daughters, refuses to follow in her mother’s footsteps.

Set in Paris during WWI, The Secret Language of Stones explores the terrible toll the war takes on the women of the city. Widows, sisters who have lost brothers, girls who have lost lovers: all come to Opaline for help. Only Opaline can craft the beautiful mourning jewelry the women need to ease their grief.

Had I read the first book in this trilogy, my enjoyment of the second would certainly have been enhanced. Coming into the middle is, perhaps, not the best way to begin. A fan of M. J. Rose’s other work—her ability to draw the reader into the story, her lush and seductive settings and descriptions—I found this book not quite as powerfully moving as some of her previous books, though still well worth reading.