The Portrait of Alatiel Salazar Blog Tour: Review and Giveaway

The Review

TITLE: The Portrait of Alatiel Salazar
AUTHOR: Steven Katriel
FORMAT: Kindle
BUY IT: Amazon
RATING: 3/5 [in the genre] or 7/10 [all books I’ve ever read].
FOR: Anyone who loves Jane Austen, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Oscar Wilde, or anything written long ago. Fans of ghost stories (though this is not really a ghost story). Fans of horror. Fans of beautiful writing.

When Gabriel Holland’s beloved Helena vanishes from his life, he journeys to the home of disgraced artist Cristian Salazar, the man he holds responsible for her disappearance and the death of several friends. Once in the town of Carliton, Gabriel finds only malice and mystery in the tales told by the few brave enough to speak ill of Salazar and the sinister Cousin Beatriz. And within shadows, in the guise of night, walks Alatiel, the creature Helena has become.

The Basics: I’m a Victorian junkie. Oscar Wilde is my hero. I worship Jane Austen. Dostoyevsky (okay, he’s not Victorian; shh) is my god. I miss that style of writing: elaborate, ornate, precise. Katriel writes like he was born in 1820, but with a clearness that makes him understandable for any modern reader. His prose is just beautiful. The first half, especially, is exquisite. The second half of good, though the plot loses some fire once we depart from Helena’s point of view and becomes a little convoluted. Still, a chilling, gorgeous read. Reminds me so much of my beloved Wilde, I could swear Katriel was inspired by some ghostly apparition of the author. I have no doubt that Katriel’s career will be a strong one.

Plot (3/5): The first half was quick and intriguing. I paged through it very quickly, and had to go back to admire the prose again, because I was too eager to find out what would happen! When we switch from Helena’s point of view to Gabriel’s, I got a little lost. The history of the Salazars is long and twisted; I had a hard time keeping it straight. Still, the actual goings-on (the investigation, the deaths) were really interesting and kept me reading.

Concept (5/5): Very Victorian, in the best of ways. Alatiel is one of the “decorative poor” (a fabulous phrase) briefly worshipped, then forgotten, by Helena’s friends. But she doesn’t forget them. The idea of a consuming muse is awesome! The witchly family is a pretty cool connection too.

Characters (5/5): Need I invoke Dorian Gray? There was so much of Lord Henry in the characters, especially Helena’s friends. Basically, they’re hysterical dandies full of frivolous humor, silly sayings, and total nonchalance. Dandies. They made me laugh. Helena’s voice was really strong. I felt I knew her from a few pages in. I didn’t feel as close to Gabriel; for me, he was more a window into the story.

Style (6/5): You’ll note that I rated this a six. I don’t have enough punctuation to express my love of Katriel’s style. Many authors focus on plot and forget that how you say it can be just as important. Not here. Katriel’s phrases grabbed me from the get-go. They’re ornate and Victorian, but don’t worry—this won’t confuse you like all those books you read in high school English. It’s pretty, but very understandable. I love him for it. I want to hug this prose. Literally.

Mechanics (5/5): A few typos here and there, but it was hardly noticeable. The only confusing part was moving from Helena’s diary to Gabriel’s normal narrative. I liked the diary bit more.

Take Home Message: A flower of a book, with gorgeous prose and a chilling plot.

Note: I received this copy free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. The price of the book and its origin in no way affected my stated opinions.

The Author 

Steven Katriel writes Gothic Horror, Paranormal Fantasy, and Literary Fiction. He has lived in Wales, UK all his life. In recent years, he wrote history articles for a community magazine. Steve’s literary heroes and heroines range from Oscar Wilde to Hilary Mantel. He has a passion for past times and this is reflected in his writing.

Website:  Click Me
Contact: sjensen65[AT]
Twitter: @StevenKatriel

The Giveaway

Enter to win a copy of this exciting novel using the Rafflecopter below!  Prizes will be delivered from the publisher, aka I'm not responsible for anything going awry.  But I will help you get in touch with them if something does go awry.  Just don't throw flaming tomatoes at me.


  1. I'd hire a demon assassin!

    Also look into some protection spells while my assassin was out demon hunting. ;)

  2. Thanks for checking out my Vaempires Review in Pictures, CJ! (Those are my mom's initials and she wears a mask like yours in her Facebook pic. I did a double-take!)

    I want to try more of those reviews. It's good for the visual and A.D.D. folk... like me. LOL!

    1. Any time! (Ha, wow. That's really odd. I feel like I have a doppelganger. :P)

      You should! Sometimes it's hard to read long reviews (says the girl guilty of writing review-novels) and the pictures make it fun.

  3. Great review, CJ. I really enjoyed the book, as well. Steven's definitely one to watch!