Title: The Artist’s Touch
Series: Art Medium: Book One
Author: E.J. Russell
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Length: 130 Pages
At a Glance: I thought the premise for this novella was a really good one and the bits that worked were solid and entertaining, but in the end, there simply wasn’t enough story to make The Artist’s Touch shine.
Reviewed By: Sammy
Blurb: Two men haunted by more than the past.
Painter Stefan Cobbe was homeless and debt-ridden after the death of his wealthy partner, but the worst loss of all was his artistic inspiration. After two years of nothing, he’s offered patronage by an eccentric gallery owner and starts to produce again, canvas after canvas. The only problem? He can’t remember painting any of them—not one single brushstroke.
Luke Morganstern’s reputation as an art-fraud investigator is in tatters. He can’t afford to turn down any job, even a lousy one for an anonymous client who sends him after an unidentified forger in a remote cabin in Oregon. When the alleged forger turns out to be Stefan, the man he never stopped loving, Luke’s professional ethics are stretched beyond the breaking point.
As the two men take tentative steps toward reconciliation, evidence begins to mount that they’re not alone in the woods. Someone—or something—is watching. Something with sinister plans for them both. To escape, Luke must overcome his suspicions and Stefan must trust Luke with his deepest fears. Otherwise they could forfeit their relationship, their sanity—and their lives.
Review: The Artist’s Touch by E. J. Russell is a second edition of a novella formerly entitled Northern Lights. The paranormal story centers on a washed-up art fraud investigator, Luke Morganstern, who has been contacted by an anonymous client to check out a small gallery that has a painting by a deceased artist that has never been seen before. When Luke realizes that the painting is indeed a forgery and that the painter is holed up in a remote cabin, he goes to investigate. Little did he expect to see his former lover in residence, and looking as though he is terrified of the very art he is being accused of forging. It turns out that Stefan has indeed been doing the paintings, but is completely unaware of doing so—for months he has been waking up after a night of drinking to find he has painted a picture. As the two men grapple with feelings for each other that have never gone away, they attempt to figure out just what or who is using Stefan to create the pictures. The closer they get to the truth, the more it becomes clear that something is behind the mysterious work and that Stefan is in danger of losing more than his memory—he is in danger of losing his very life.
I liked the premise of this book; the paranormal aspect was definitely a bit creepy and well done. The chemistry between Luke and Stefan was undeniable, and the idea that the two have never gotten over each other, despite it being a few years since they were together, was believable. I do wish there had been a bit more explanation about their former relationship. In my opinion, it would have strengthened the story overall. I appreciated the story of the artist whose paintings Stefan was channeling and found myself really wishing the author had taken the same amount of time on the two main characters.
Because of the bare-bones structure to the story, I found myself occasionally going back and rereading passages to make sense of where I was in the story. I felt like there were all these great plot point threads that could have been the basis of a wonderful paranormal mystery, but they were left unexplained, underdeveloped or incomplete. This book should have been a full-length novel, and I’m surprised the author didn’t take the opportunity to expand the story before reissuing. In the end, the plot holes that resulted from a story that was never fully realized made this novella a bit hard to get into. I thought the premise for this novella was a really good one and the bits that worked were solid and entertaining, but in the end, there simply wasn’t enough story to make The Artist’s Touch shine.
You can buy The Artist’s Touch here:
[zilla_button url=”http://authl.it/B079R85S1C?d” style=”blue” size=”medium” type=”round” target=”_blank”] Amazon [/zilla_button][zilla_button url=”https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-artists-touch-ej-russell/1127829968?ean=2940158724114″ style=”blue” size=”medium” type=”round” target=”_blank”] Barnes & Noble [/zilla_button][zilla_button url=”https://geo.itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-artists-touch/id1334407037?mt=11″ style=”blue” size=”medium” type=”round” target=”_blank”] iBooks [/zilla_button][zilla_button url=”http://bit.ly/2GGii6F” style=”blue” size=”medium” type=”round” target=”_blank”] Kobo [/zilla_button]