All, Bree, Review

BOOK REVIEW: Blood Water Paint

Blood Water Paint by Joy McCullough
TW: violence, abuse, rape

So, let me start off with this: I had no idea that this book was in prose format when I got it from the library, if I had I probably would not have checked it out, and that would have been a BIG mistake. I truly loved this book; the author’s careful word choice led to beautiful imagery in my mind. But before I knew this, the synopsis is what drew my attention. Blood Water Paint is based on the true story of the painter, Artemisia Gentileschi. At 12, when her mother died, she had a choice to make: to become a nun, or to grind pigment for her father’s paint. She chose paint. By the age 17, she had become one of Rome’s most talented painters, even if no one knew her name. But in Rome 1610, men took what they wanted from women, and Artemisia was raped by her father’s associate. She had a decision to make: to fight for he truth in a world stacked against her, or to live cloaked in silence.

What I Liked:

  • The format of the book alternates between sections of present-tense prose and flashbacks to Artemisia’s childhood memories of her mother telling her stories. This change of pace gives the book a dreamlike feel that I really enjoyed.
  • Joy McCullough’s writing is fantastic. Her choice of words led me in to a world filled with bright and colorful imagery, crushingly realistic turmoil and fear, and story the demands to be told.
  • Judith and Susanna are angels on Artemisia’s shoulders. They are charming and unique saviors, but still reflect qualities of normal girls underneath it all.

What I Didn’t Like:

  • The surprise of this book being in prose. I mean, I read the back-cover synopsis and the Goodreads page of it and had no clue it was in prose. I just kind of wish it had been a little more obvious, you know?
  • Also, the format (I know, I know. I’m ranting about the prose, but this is different I swear!) led me to be confused whenever conversations were being had. The spacing of conversation in prose is weird and tricky. It took me a couple conversations to figure out who was speaking when.


Overall, Blood Paint Water is a vividly told story with concise language and compelling emotions. The type of person Artemisia was, is a standard that everyone should hope to uphold in their lives. Unfortunately she didn’t get her happy ending, but she left a tale behind her that the world should learn from. Blood Paint Water left me wanting to know more about Artemisia Gentileschi and her world. I recommend this book to anyone and everyone, especially those who have a distaste for prose. This book will change your mind.

5/5 stars

xoxo, Bree

Goodreads Link: Blood Water Paint

4 thoughts on “BOOK REVIEW: Blood Water Paint”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s