I LOVED The Girl Who Painted Death as a window into real people’s lives and pasts. I think the Balkan region, and Zagreb in particular, is steeped in intrigue and charm and makes for a wonderful setting for any novel, but especially one with threads of evil and hope running through it in equal and competing proportions. Indeed, I only wish I could’ve read this book while sitting in a smoky bar or cafe in Zagreb. And It was good to read a ‘Balkan novel’ that has gone beyond the Yugoslavia war.
Julie moves from her childhood home in Macedonia to live with a friend in Croatia after her sister and father are killed in a mysterious accident/incident. She works in a bar by night and studies art/painting by day. While attending an exhibition she meets Adam, a successful, young, architect and a romance begins. Julie finds he has cheated on her and as she struggles to make sense of this, threatening letters begin appearing in her apartment which she attributes to Adam. Adam disappears from her life, but the letters don’t. She is led back to her Macedonian home town where her father and sister were killed and the facts of that incident are uncovered to her.
The characters in this book were carefully crafted and released to the reader in manageable bites as the book and story unfolded. I really enjoyed how the complex relationships were slowly untangled as I worked through the plot.
And a most satisfying ending!