The Life Portrait by Jacquelynn Luben

The Life Portrait by Jacquelynn Luben
Publisher: Untreed Reads
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Historical
Length: Short Story (5 pages)
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

When Count Felipo’s daughter, Ursula, becomes ill, her father is desperate to find a remedy, so much so that he is prepared to hire the artist who previously painted her portrait to transform the girl in the picture to a sorry, ailing creature, in the hope that the life from the original portrait will somehow be transferred to the dying girl. What will be the result of his gamble?

Few things in life are scarier than watching someone you love experience a life-threatening illness. What if there was a way to restore him or her to good health?

Count Felipo’s dilemma hit close to home for me as someone who has recently watched a loved one fight a different but equally daunting disease. His response to his daughter’s health crisis is very accurate, and I sympathized with his emotional highs and lows as he struggles to figure out what to do. Fairy tales are most powerful when they address heartbreaking situations that real people face.The inclusion of such a common experience makes this one a must-read.

My only criticism of this story is difficult to discuss without inadvertently giving away spoilers. Early on in the piece one of the characters says something that foreshadows how it will end, and while that information is necessary in order to understand why certain decisions were made I do wish it could have been revealed a little later on in the plot. The final scene was so good that I would have preferred to go into it without having such a solid hunch about what was going to happen.

This is the second tale from Ms. Luben that I’ve read so far and I was quite pleased to revisit her writing style. She has a wonderful way of pulling the reader into the past through the use of words and customs that have since fallen out of fashion. In this case it works particularly well. While I was reading I truly felt like Count Felipo was standing next to me wringing his hands over his daughter’s worsening health, and I am eager to read more from her in the future.

The Life Portrait reads like a modern-day fairy tale. I highly recommend it to anyone who loves this genre as much as I do.


  1. Thank you very much for your lovely review, Astilbe. I’m glad you enjoyed it for the most part.

    I wish I could go back and make a change to the part of the story you commented on, but too late now, I’m afraid.

  2. You’re very welcome, Jacquelynn. I can’t wait to read more of your stories, and I hope you’ll submit them to LASR so I’ll have the chance to review them as well!

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