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The Artist

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An ad in the newspaper. A war veteran in need. An artist companion. One of these things is not what it seems.

Miss Grant’s sole purpose in life is to help Civil War veterans by painting portraits of them to reveal the beautiful souls beneath their injuries. She has met many exceptional men through answering their newspaper advertisements for a companion.

But the latest veteran, the beautiful Mr. Markham, is strange. He has no debilitating injuries, simply a long, deep scar on his face—nothing more. His isolation from society and his demands to be treated as an invalid defy belief. Why does he choose to suffer when he could enjoy a fulfilling life?

Something else is wrong with Mr. Markham. And by the time Miss Grant figures it out, it may be too late to escape.

The Artist is a surprising Civil War-era suspense story that will keep you guessing until the bitter end.

91 pages, Kindle Edition

Published March 30, 2021

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About the author

Christie Stratos

10 books138 followers
Historical suspense author, Victorian-era newspaper scourer, voracious reader of all genres, runs on coffee and chocolate.
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Christie Stratos is an award-winning writer who holds a degree in English Literature. She is the author of the psychological suspense novels Anatomy of a Darkened Heart and Brotherhood of Secrets, the first two books in the Dark Victoriana Collection.




Also a poet and short story writer, Christie has been published in anthologies, literary journals, and magazines. Christie has been featured on the radio, in magazines, and on podcasts, and she has given presentations for writing organizations and at writing conferences. She owns her own editing company, Proof Positive, where she works one-on-one with authors as well as with small presses as a freelance editor, and she has enjoyed working with a rising press as an acquisitions editor.

Christie hosts the well-received podcast Writers Showcase on the Authors on the Air Radio Network. She has interviewed New York Times bestsellers, publishers, and major award-winning authors, including #1 New York Times bestselling author Peter Straub, Hugo Award winner Robert J. Sawyer, BBC correspondent Humphrey Hawksley, and Mary Higgins Clark Award winner Hank Phillippi Ryan.

Visit Christie on her website, christiestratos.com, or find her on Patreon, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest, etc.

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Displaying 1 - 10 of 10 reviews
Profile Image for J.D. Estrada.
Author 19 books167 followers
April 16, 2021
If there's anything you can consistently say about anything written by Christie Stratos, it's that man, she can really write a mood. Some people have a penchant for writing witty dialogue, or super trippy worlds. With Stratos, it's atmosphere. It's always atmosphere. You can see and taste the place and whatever unease is experienced, odds are that it'll rub off on you. The Artist is a short story that definitely lingers and though not as dark as her other works, it somehow feels more real. What happens, happens, it's inevitable, and the aftermath feels real as well. Sometimes you read a story and things are nice, tidy, and convenient. The Artist avoids this and I think is an impressive way of capturing traumatic moments in the lives of several people. Topnotch as to be expected.
Profile Image for Amarinske.
541 reviews12 followers
October 25, 2021
Loved this. A great addition to the Dark Victoriana collection. It really fits well with the idea behind the other novella in this series ( The Wrong House). This one builds upon the opiate crisis right after the Civil War and the previous one was about a doctor with not-so-nice practices.
That mood swing though. I have a feeling that's a nice capture of a crash, but I don't really know as I've never used opiates as far as I know.
I also appreciate the small sections with extra info after the story concludes both in The Wrong House and in this one. I hope that all novellas/short stories in this series (or maybe 3 or 4 if there turn out to be coming more) will be bound up in a collection and then sold as a paperback so I can add to my shelf. I also hope that the novels keep the story in the village alive/ongoing and these shorter stories keep having takes on these (medical) problems at the time. It's interesting and fits well together.
Profile Image for Rose English.
Author 13 books174 followers
April 5, 2021
Book 35 of my Goodreads Challenge 2021


An atmospheric read

The opening lines of Miss Grant's journal drew me in

'How does one paint the sweet smell of flowers on the wind, better than any perfume one can buy?
How does one paint the inside of heartbreak and sorrow, the truth of its depth and it's impact?...
...We are a mistaken smudge of black paint on a perfectly vibrant horizon.'


These words give us a glimpse into the character of Miss Grant, but the full understanding of her pain and why she takes on the role of companion is not clear until the end. The author holds you in suspense throughout this short moody tale. There is something more to veteran Mr Markham and the author keeps us guessing.

I tried to think ahead, anticipating what would happen in the end. I was so sure I might know but I was wrong. I really didn't see it coming at all. I loved how the author gave us some historical facts at the end too.

Well worth checking out for a quick read it offers an air of mystery.
1 review
February 21, 2021
I absolutely LOVED this short story. The author makes every word and every sentence count as she peels back the layers of the characters and situations, and I don't want to give anything away in this review. So I'll just say it was absolutely riveting and the end scenes really took me by surprise, which is saying a lot because I read a lot and can almost always guess what's coming, but not this time...and not with her other works either. Plus she includes fascinating historical info after the story that plumps up the facts in her story (she really does her research!), which I'm seeing seems to be a wonderful signature to her short stories. I highly recommend this short story (you don't have to be into Civil War-era stories to enjoy this one) and can't wait for her next.
Profile Image for David.
353 reviews
March 17, 2021
**I received a copy in exchange for an honest review**

I've read all of the Dark Victoriana Collection, this includes two novels and two shorts, and enjoyed them quite a lot. While they all occur in the same time period and with a dark theme, The Artist felt less dark or suspenseful. Mr. Markham was an odd character and I had a hard time getting a handle on him. As for Miss Grant, I found her interesting and thought she had more to offer than was written. I was looking for a few threads of backstory to be further explained in both characters. Overall it was an enjoyable read and I'll keep my eye out for another installment to this collection.
Profile Image for Rebekah Jonesy.
Author 35 books30 followers
March 30, 2021
I have grown addicted to books by this author. It's not just the random historical true facts, despite how much I love those and the fact that she adds references in the back of the book to follow up with. It's also that at the start of each book I always fool myself into thinking I know how it will go. What paths it will follow.
I'm always wrong. And I love it. The depth of realism she deals in is too real. And these books, like reality, take turns no one could see coming until they are looking back and then the twists was inevitable.
A brilliant story, simple and short, but covering such a wide range of characters and topics that I will be thinking about it for days later.
Profile Image for J.M. Northup.
Author 23 books86 followers
May 5, 2021
Haunting History

This well written short story fascinated me. It wasn't at all what I expected, surprising me with the plot development. I was engaged from start to finish.
As someone who favors historical fiction, this was spot on for me. It was smart, authentic, and brilliantly delivered. I enjoyed the characters, finding Jonesy particularly likeable.
I highly recommend this story and author.
Profile Image for Kazz Mossman.
Author 33 books145 followers
April 9, 2021
Miss Grant is the main character in the short excellent story, and we don't get to know her Christian name because in the eighteen hundreds this was the way people addressed one another.

An intriguing read as Miss Grant tries to get through to Mr. Markham, who was depressed and suffering from stress. What he experienced during the war seemed to be the problem for his breakdown.
Miss Grant was experienced in this and had been working with men who were greatly affected by their experiences.

Only, things are not quite what they seem. I'm not going to give away what this is, and it will come as a surprise, just as it did to Miss Grant.

At one point I wondered whether it would go down the Jane Eyre route as there were similarities. It didn't, and the way it went was a lot more startling.

A really entertaining read.
Profile Image for Jessa Forest.
Author 7 books16 followers
March 30, 2021
A gripping post-American Civil War tale. Christie Stratos doesn't skimp on the suspense or the surprising twists. Yep, there's more than one in this tale. Like protagonist Miss Grant's calming and compassionate demeanor, the story lured me in and took me places I never expected it would go. This is an absolutely wonderful read that I highly recommend to anyone who loves historical and military fiction.
Profile Image for Joe Compton.
Author 5 books48 followers
August 16, 2021
Author Christie Stratos is a maestro with words and The Artist really exhibits why this collection, the Dark Victorian Collection is an awesome world to become absorbed in. This is cunning, fresh, and an exhibition in how you can build tension and apprehension with words and still feel like there is such vivid imagery you are seeing all this unfold within your imagination. It's a quick read and great way to jump into a collection that will hook you from wherever you start and continue. That's part of The Artist's brilliance, it has enough freshness to stand on its own as a separate story and yet still incorporate for those of us who have read other books and stories give subtle nods and easter eggs that tie in the rest of the world.

This is a tour de force in literature and it will twist you, turn you around all while engaging and enthralling you as you eat it up word by word.
Displaying 1 - 10 of 10 reviews

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