The Black Painting by Neil Olson

Look at this cover, and tell me you wouldn’t be intrigued to read it (especially if you are a book cover snob like me)!

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I thought this was a stunning cover, and when I read the premise, I was immediately drawn to the supernatural aspect of the story. I may not know much about art, but I love everything to do with demons and this novel had everything to make it the perfect read for me.


Synopsis (Goodreads): There were four cousins in the Morse family: perfect Kenny, the preppy West Coast lawyer; James, the shy but brilliant medical student; his seductive, hard-drinking sister Audrey; and Teresa, youngest and most fragile, haunted by the fear that she has inherited the madness that possessed her father.

Their grandfather summons them to his mansion at Owl’s Point. None of them has visited the family estate since they were children, when a prized painting disappeared: a self-portrait by Goya, rumored to cause madness or death upon viewing. Afterward, the family split apart amid the accusations and suspicions that followed its theft.

Any hope that their grandfather planned to make amends evaporates when Teresa arrives to find the old man dead, his horrified gaze pinned upon the spot where the painting once hung. As the family gathers and suspicions mount, Teresa hopes to find the reasons behind her grandfather’s death and the painting’s loss. But to do so she must uncover ugly family secrets and confront those who would keep them hidden.


Review: What a great premise, right? Unfortunately, the actual story failed to live up to it.

The story itself had all the makings to be great. You have a painting that contains a demon in it, and this painting is stolen. The owner of the painting, Teresa’s grandfather, is found dead with a look of horror on his face. And everyone in the family wants to find this painting because of its wealth – and because of the powers it is rumored to hold. The problem with the story, however, is the plot doesn’t really stick to the script. It meanders and flows in so many different directions that it is hard to keep track. I don’t care about any of the other side plots, I just want to know what is going on with this painting! It was so frustrating to read this novel because I never got the information or the story I wanted.

There were also a lot of characters. As in, way too many. There was nothing to really set any of them apart, and there was just so many names being dropped with no proper development that they all melded into one. It almost felt like I was experiencing whiplash, what with the sheer volume of characters and character interactions that were present in this novel. This is what happens when a story doesn’t have any character development whatsoever – and it was an experience I do not want to ever repeat.

As I’m writing this review, I feel quite sad. This novel could have been so good. And I don’t want to bash the author’s efforts to write and publish a book. But there was no redeeming quality about this book. There was no effort made to keep the plot concise and interesting. There was absolutely no character development, leaving the reader swamped by the sheer number of players in this book. It was just not a good book. For those reasons, I’m giving this a 1/5 stars.

I received this novel as an advance copy from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

Happy reading ~

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