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Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Sharon Cameron's Newest YA Historical Another Glittering Gem

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Growing up in her family's art gallery surrounded by bohemian creatives has given 18-year-old Isa de Smit a colorful, open-minded view of the world. Amsterdam has always felt alive for her, bursting with beauty and vibrancy. All of that is being leached out by the Nazis who have invaded The Netherlands, crowding her hometown with their bland khaki uniforms and narrow-minded ideals. The city has become a tense, dangerous place for everyone. It's wisest to stay far under the Nazis' radar, but Isa is out of money to buy food, let alone purchase new painting supplies for her reclusive artist father or pay the taxes needed to keep their gallery home. Out of options, she decides to take an enormous risk: sell one of her father's brilliant Old Masters forgeries to Hitler's personal art agent. 

That successful transaction earns her the attention of Michel Lange, a Nazi soldier who claims he longs to desert. He'll help her sell more forgeries if she'll use her connections with the Resistance to get him safe passage to Switzerland. Isa needs his cooperation in order to raise funds to help her best friend smuggle Jewish babies out of Amsterdam. Does she dare trust a Nazi? Does she really have a choice? As Isa's plans get more daring, her every movement becomes increasingly scrutinized, her life growing more dangerous by the hour. Can she accomplish her purposes without getting caught by her deadly foe? Or being informed on by her "friends?" Will the counterfeit paintings pass muster? Or will Isa be the next to face a Nazi firing squad? Desperate to save as many babies as she can, she has to take the risk, no matter the consequences. Even if it means sacrificing her own life, which it just might...

I'm a huge Sharon Cameron fan, so it's no surprise that I loved Artifice. Bluebird is still my favorite of the author's novels, but this one—her newest—has many of the same elements that made Bluebird such a winner for me. To begin with, it features complex, interesting characters. Isa is especially easy to root for. She's wholly sympathetic, but she's also brave, compassionate, determined, and devoted to the people and the country she loves. Plotwise, Artifice starts off a bit slowly. It gains momentum as it goes, though, and quickly turns into a tense, engrossing read that kept me racing through its pages until after one in the morning. I couldn't put it down because I had so much concern for Isa, her friends, and what was going to happen to them all. Cameron always makes me care! It's true that I found the whole subject of art a little off-putting since I know nothing about that world. Most of the references to specific artists and paintings went right over my ignorant head and I found Isa's constant references to color a tad annoying. Still, I enjoyed learning about how paintings are forged, especially in relation to its collection by the Nazis. I'd never read a book on the subject before and it really is fascinating. All things considered, I very much enjoyed this beautiful, moving book, another gem from Cameron. Even if you're not an art lover, I recommend Artifice to anyone who enjoys absorbing historical fiction.

(Readalikes: Reminds me of YA historical fiction by Ruta Sepetys, Monica Hesse, Julie Berry, etc.)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for brief, mild language (no F-bombs); violence; blood/gore; and disturbing subject matter

To the FTC, with love: I received an e-ARC of Artifice from the generous folks at Scholastic Press via those at NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!


  1. I thought Bluebird was very good as well so I'll have to keep an eye out for this one. Thank you

  2. I haven't read any books that touch on how paintings are forged, either. This sounds like a neat book; thanks for the review!

  3. I love reading about artists and paintings and forgeries, and I like that Amsterdam setting, too, so I'd probably love this one. :D


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