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Roses and Rot

3.58  ·  Rating details ·  3,176 ratings  ·  687 reviews
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
Kindle Edition, 320 pages
Published May 17th 2016 by Saga Press
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Laurel I would consider this an adult book. Women-identified authors of fantasy and sci-fi have an unfortunate tendency to have their work classified as YA w…moreI would consider this an adult book. Women-identified authors of fantasy and sci-fi have an unfortunate tendency to have their work classified as YA whether it is or not. That said, having grown up in an emotionally abusive situation, I would have been happy to come across this as a teen.(less)
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Jessica ❁ ➳ Silverbow ➳ ❁
Reviewed by: Rabid Reads

4.5 stars

This book . . . is too magical to give you more information than what is already given in the synopsis.

This is the thing about fairy tales: You have to live through them, before you get to happily ever after. That ever after has to be earned, and not everyone makes it that far.

It's not a secret that Fae are my favorite. But the reason behind my love of all things Fae is an accidentally given and gleefully received book of fairytales when I was ten(ish) years
Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽

Review first posted on Fantasy Literature:

Roses and Rot (2016) is a slow-building but beautifully written dark fantasy, loosely based on a familiar folk tale that isn’t disclosed until about a third of the way into the novel, so I’ll refrain from giving it away. (Note: You'll see it given away in several Goodreads reviews, so if you don't want to be spoiled, limit your review perusing. :D) Primarily Roses and Rot explores the relationship between two adult sisters and their devotion to their res
Wendy Darling
DNF. A little too mannered, purple, and lacking in connective tissue.
Lauren (Shakespeare & Whisky)
"That doesn't mean that I would destroy those works, or that I'm not proud of having come out the other side. Our past art makes our present art as much as our past life makes us who we are now. In the end, if the art stands up, that's what matters.”

This book is the most overwrought, overwritten, pretentious piece of nonsense I've suffered through in a long time.


* The writing: everything was so overwritten. I think the book was attempting to be literary but lacked both style and a
Roshani Chokshi
Nov 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's a curious feeling when you finish a book and realize how desperately you needed it.

ROSES AND ROT is one of those books. It's a story of love and fairytales, and the horrifying ways we make peace with ourselves in the name of art. The story revolves around two sisters, Imogen and Marin, whose love for one another and troubled family history is the book's burning core. Both accepted to the prestigious Melete, both devastatingly talented. Throughout R&R, Howard makes reference to the motif of
Mogsy (MMOGC)
4 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum

They say there’s a certain amount of truth in fairy tales. Despite their fantastical nature, the stories usually have some basis in reality, providing a moral compass during turbulent times, often teaching lessons which can be applied to one’s own life. If nothing else, the “trueness” may lie in the big picture rather than the details, such as the honesty of the character’s emotions or the essence of their relationships. H
Trigger warnings: physical abuse of children, emotional abuse, suicide.


Let's start with something of a disclaimer: I didn't want to read this book. The Fae are not my thing. At all. I don't find them interesting to read about. I don't care about their dark, mysterious powers of persuasion or whatever the fuck. But this was the FYA book club pick this month, so I kind of had to read it.

And I wish to God I hadn't, because I've never been SO FUCKING BORED IN MY ENT

I'll call this a manipulative story... and not as an endearment.
With the main characters having been the target of their mother's abuse (psychological and physical) , I actually felt bad for not connecting with them.
Have I such a heart of stone, that neither a story with traits such as those, can touch me?

And that was what made me keep reading. I kept hoping to feel something...

And I did, in small bits. Mainly, during Imogen's stream of consciousness and during the fairy tales that she kep
Apr 01, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Two sisters - one a dancer and one a writer - are both admitted to an exclusive artist's colony. The colony turns out to be a gateway to Faerie, whose inhabitants have a bargain with the residents - the most accomplished among them can achieve the highest success and honors their profession allows; success that comes at great personal cost.
I liked the premise of Roses and Rot, but the novel itself did not really live up to its promise, and the conflict that drives the last third of the book is a
Jan 21, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
ROSES AND ROT is a modern-day fairy tale about art and survival and sisterhood, and it's fierce and beautiful and full of magic. Imogen and Marin are sisters who helped each other survive their abusive mother's toxic parenting when they were kids but had their connection snapped after Imogen escaped to boarding school. Now, as adults, they're both artists in different fields - Imogen as a writer, Marin as a dancer - and they're trying to re-establish their relationship...partly by coming togethe ...more
Dec 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorite, audiobooks
One of my new favorites! I love the poetic and dark atmosphere mixed with mystery and fantasy.
Full review here:
I don't know why it shows up as YA on Goodreads, but this book is about twentysomething adults, trying to find their ways as artists. It's not YA, not at all.

At the center of the novel we have two sisters - a dancer and a writer, who arrive at a mysterious establishment to work on their art projects and be mentored by professionals for a year. As time goes by, they discover some pretty weird stuff goes on there, and some pretty bizarre creatures inhabit it.

What I liked:

1) art, artistic process
Diana | Book of Secrets
If I had to label this book, I'd call it a New Adult Fairy Tale, which I know some readers will devour. For me, ROSES AND ROT was an okay story, though not as "Gothic" as I was expecting.

Two sisters, Imogen and Marin, are accepted into an exclusive artists' colony called Melete. Only the best of the best are invited to join. It seems wonderful in theory, especially since the sisters have different talents and wouldn't be in competition with each other. Well, not everything is as it seems at Mele
Jun 06, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dnf
Dull characters, boring plot, mediocre writing. Reads like some pretentious fanfiction. dnf.
Aug 09, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a fairy tale that sort of isn't. It has fae, magic and a king of fairy land but is essentially arty types on retreat. Two sisters, one a writer the other a dancer, escape their life and more to the point, their mother and try to be the best they can. Some of the imagery is particularly enchanting but there are a couple of times where events happened that I had to go back and read over still coming away confused. I would've liked more information on evil mum too.

I didn't feel that the cov
4.5 stars. Very good story about two sisters who are accepted for a nine-month artists' retreat and slowly realize they're living in a faery tale. ...more
May 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
To me, the testament of a good story is how long it sticks with you after you finish. My favorite books are the ones that, no matter what else you might be doing, are always at the back of your mind. Wooing you. Reminding you that they exist. Begging for another read through. Kat Howard's Roses and Rot hasn't unleashed me from its magical confines yet. I finished it well over two days ago, and it just won't leave me be. I tell you, I'm not even upset. All I really want is a hardcover of this so ...more
"Once upon a time, there were two sisters, and there was a forest. The forest was, in the way of these things, full of secrets.
Not just the secrets of leaves and trees, of fur and feathers, of shadowed spaces. Certainly it had all of those, but it had other secrets as well."

Two sisters:
Imogen, the eldest. A writer of fairy tales, and
Marin, the youngest. A ballet dancer.

Both are invited to the prestigious artist retreat Melete for nine blissful months of full concentration on their art. They're
Aug 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-reviews, fantasy
As the POV character, the writer sister Imogen, is the most fully portrayed in Roses and Rot. Her concerns are the central concerns of the book. Through the lens of Imogen's narration, I didn't see any difference between abusive human parents and the Fae's abuse of humans residing in places where they have power. Kat Howard shows the various types of abuse as part of the same continuum. I believe that she is telling her audience that the identity of the abuser doesn't matter. Abuse is still abus ...more
Sara Kate
3 1/2 stars.
Ended up not being too bad after the first 30% of the story. I enjoyed it well enough.
Sep 15, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Review from Tenacious Reader:

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
All Things Urban Fantasy
Review courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy.

Extremely compelling, ROSES AND ROT is a book that grabbed me from the first few pages and didn't let go. This is a book that kept me up late, that I read in one sitting. It simultaneously drags the reader to keep turning the pages but also manages to feel like a languid, meandering walk that you wish could last forever.

A lot goes on in ROSES AND ROT. Howard manages to weave together multiple storylines without missing a beat in any of them. Relationsh
A compelling and suspenseful Tam Lin re-telling set in our world and in modern times.
For everyone who likes more realistic fiction with the magic just sparkling underneath waiting to explode to the surface, this would be the book for you.
I should mention I read this novel as part of a group read for the Into the Forest group where I've discovered so many amazing books!
Natália Lopes
“Perhaps the only happily ever after is to survive to tell the story.”

I really enjoyed this book more than I thought I would after I started it. Yes, it was slow at times and things took a while to happen and the plot to unfold itself, but the characters relationship, their dynamics and personalities, their past and traumas were just as interesting, so in the end it didn't bother me as much. I like how the author wove some 'fairytales' in-between the actual story, as a paralell of s
Julia Ember
Jul 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This really spoke to me as an artist and perfectly captured all my nuanced feelings about being a person outside your art. Harrowing, beautiful writing and great world-building. The sister dynamic between Marin and Imogen was also wonderful to read!
Jun 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This one had a slow start...but I'm glad I stuck with it. ...more
Bill Kupersmith
May 22, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: me-emma
Tho’ I know Christina Rossetti as the author of the most moving Christmas carol I have ever heard sung, I’ve never read her poem Goblin Market. But after reading Roses & Rot, I know that I certainly must. But the “Night Market”--as it’s termed in the book—is just one attraction of an artists’ colony called Melete, located north of Boston—next to a bridge leading straight into fairy land. Every seven years the outstanding fellow is offered the opportunity to spend seven years “away with the fairi ...more
i wish, as always, that goodreads had more stars so i could be more specific, because, to be very precise: seven point five writer hitting eight point five highs. i feel so many ways about this book!

because first of all i'll admit i went in with my hackles sky-high, because i had learned about this from Writers, and Writers Writing Lovingly About Books That Write Lovingly About Writing generally feels like something of a fuckshit wanktempest to me even when it is most kindly meant. and i've read
May 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Sometimes, a book is so good, so perfect, that it touches something so essential to the core of who you are, that there are no words. All you can do is sit very quietly in the glow of the story, and hope - somehow - that if you do not move, the story will never end.

I'd like to come back later and write a real review, but this is one of the books I go back to the beginning and read again, because I cannot bear for it to end.

After my second reading, I tweeted the author this:

“@KatWithSword I read
Oct 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

"Roses and Rot" is brilliant, dark, and lovely: a modern fairy tale about the deep love between two talented sisters. (Howard refers throughout to many other fairy tale sisters in haunting mini-tales-within-a-tale. I love love love fairy tales and this book and ughughgughgjfsl.) Heart-aching imagery, a host of bone-deep supporting characters, and DID I MENTION THE DEEP BONDS OF SISTERHOOD? (I know I did
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FYA Book Club of ...: June 2017 - Roses and Rot 2 1 Feb 04, 2018 09:18AM  
Into the Forest: Roses and Rot spoiler free 8 20 Nov 15, 2016 05:26AM  
Into the Forest: Roses and Rot spoilers allowed 19 33 Nov 10, 2016 06:07AM  

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Kat Howard lives in New Hampshire. Her short fiction has been nominated for the World Fantasy Award, anthologized in year's best and best of collections, and performed on NPR. Roses and Rot is her debut novel. You can find her on twitter at @KatWithSword.

Also, Shane Leonard took her photo, and she's super grateful.

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“This is what happens, when things are not quite a fairy tale.
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