Brutalized by an abusive mother, Imogen and her younger sister, Marin, dreamt of the day when they could flee her control. But only one girl managed to escape, and the cost is a decade of separation from the sister left behind. When Imogen, now a published writer, and Marin, a rising star in the ballet world, are both accepted to a renowned retreat for artists, they seize the opportunity to reconnect beyond their mother's cruel reach.
Boasting alumni that populate the highest levels of the art world, Melete offers a magical New England setting that cultivates the maximum potential from its resident artists. But as Imogen and Marin immerse themselves in the community, they find the village's postcard facade hides a symbiotic connection with the land of Faerie. Melete shimmers and blurs with otherworldly murmurs, scents both fragrant and foul, and faces shifting toward sharp edges that are not entirely human.
Imogen and Marin find their newly rekindled relationship tested when they are compelled to compete against each other for the opportunity to become indentured to the Faerie for a seven-year term, with a guarantee of fame and success at its end. Love and pain have the power to drive each of them toward the prize as well as the power to drive them apart.
In her debut novel, Kat Howard deftly punctuates Imogen's narration of events with brief yet lyrical fairy tales that draw aside glamorous fabrics to reveal the more visceral textures of traditional “happily ever afters.” With refreshing vision and style, Howard diverges away from expected outcomes in search of deeper exchanges in this lush story. An enchanting literary exploration that is both sensual and sober, Roses and Rot explores the high cost attached to the unbridled pursuit of love, success and escape to create a fairy tale unlike any other.