Image and blurb from Goodreads
Title: Blood Rose Rebellion
(Blood Rose Rebellion #1)
(Blood Rose Rebellion #1)
Author: Rosalyn Eves
Release Date: March 28th, 2017
Age Category/ Genre: Young Adult Historical Fantasy
The thrilling first book in a YA fantasy trilogy for fans of Red Queen. In a world where social prestige derives from a trifecta of blood, money, and magic, one girl has the ability to break the spell that holds the social order in place.
Sixteen-year-old Anna Arden is barred from society by a defect of blood. Though her family is part of the Luminate, powerful users of magic, she is Barren, unable to perform the simplest spells. Anna would do anything to belong. But her fate takes another course when, after inadvertently breaking her sister’s debutante spell—an important chance for a highborn young woman to show her prowess with magic—Anna finds herself exiled to her family’s once powerful but now crumbling native Hungary.
Her life might well be over.
In Hungary, Anna discovers that nothing is quite as it seems. Not the people around her, from her aloof cousin Noémi to the fierce and handsome Romani Gábor. Not the society she’s known all her life, for discontent with the Luminate is sweeping the land. And not her lack of magic. Isolated from the only world she cares about, Anna still can’t seem to stop herself from breaking spells.
As rebellion spreads across the region, Anna’s unique ability becomes the catalyst everyone is seeking. In the company of nobles, revolutionaries, and Romanies, Anna must choose: deny her unique power and cling to the life she’s always wanted, or embrace her ability and change that world forever.
2.5 “Cool Magical System” Stars
ARC via NetGalley
Thank you, Knopf Books for Young Readers!
This seems to be the week I got my hands on my most anticipated books of the first half of 2017. I just finished Caraval and have The Hate U Give and Frost Blood waiting on my Kindle. Like those books, Blood Rose Rebellion has been featured in more than one of my books-to-read-in-2017 lists. Unfortunately, I didn’t like it half as much as I thought I would.
To be completely honest, I didn’t expect to this ARC at all, but well… I did, and it only made the opportunity to read this even more thrilling. The premise and the setting were intriguing and I was ready to love this.
Blood Rose Rebellion just didn’t do it for me.
Let me start this by highlighting what made this story unique, and what makes me believe other people will have a completely different (and more positive) experience with this.
This is a story set in 19th century Europe (the beginning in England, but most of it in Hungary) and it has a cool mix of historical and fantasy. The main character, Anna, lives in a society with a super cool magical system that will sound a little familiar to fans of Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard, but manages to be more unique.
The Luminate society controls all magic and only allows those from their bloodline to cast spells. They spread the lie that only the Luminate have the ability to cast spells, but that’s something they created with the help of a binding ritual that puts them in control of magic. Those who know about the lie and think everyone should be allowed to access it are obviously unhappy with the situation and looking to start a revolution.
The author does a good job mixing these magical elements with the history of that time, and we get a lot of references to important historical figures and events taking place around that time. For me, that made the world she created even more unique.
Another positive is that we get to see more than just England. Though the story starts there, Anna is soon sent away to Hungary with her grandmother, allowing us a glimpse at another culture. I say we need more fantasy set/inspired in different countries and cultures, so I’m giving this author extra points for trying. I say trying because I’m not sure she represented Hungary the best way she could. In fact, judging from this review from a Hungarian reader, it could’ve gone a lot better.
As far as writing goes, I thought this author showed a lot of potential. The writing was good, the language, although a little stiff, was easy to read and the descriptions were vivid enough to paint a beautiful picture of the setting.
I also appreciated how she took the time to explain the main elements involving the world she created, and especially the magical system, in the beginning. Some might find it a little info-dumpy, but I prefer that over scratching my head through tons of pages until I can finally figure out how things are supposed to work in that world. The author created a complicated system, so it was only fair for her to explain it when she did.
So, those were all positive elements I saw in the story. Things that I’m sure will make other readers have a better experience with this, especially if we’re talking about readers who enjoy world building above all.
That’s not my case, though. Even in fantasy, I always tend to gravitate towards characters and their journeys. Characters are what make and break stories for me, and the main character in this book didn’t hook me at all.
Anna made it really hard for me to connect with her from the beginning. She often came across as judgmental and spoiled, and it took her too long to grow. Her actions while she was still back home in England didn’t put her in a good light. What she did the night of her sister’s debut didn’t come across as accidental as it needed to in order to make her look anything other than jealous. She knew the risks and she ignored her sister and her mother’s pleas. She didn’t feel real remorse for the trouble she created, but instead chose to shift the blame. The fact that her mother and her sister were mean to her didn’t excuse her behavior, in my opinion.
Anna’s reaction to meeting people in Hungary for the first time wasn’t the nicest, either. She was nasty to her cousin when she arrived at the house, calling her “dusty, disheveled creature” (I mean, really? Really?), then she make assumptions about the Romani people she met before she even spoke to them. Not even her Romani love interest seemed good enough when she met him.
Speaking of which, the romance didn’t hold my attention, either. Throughout the book there were four (more?) love interests and none of them made me feel much. Sure if I had to pick I’d go with Gábor, but he wasn’t all that developed, either.
With no connection to the main character and the love interested, the story quickly lost its appeal. It also didn’t help that the plot moved so slow. I mean, really, really slow.
So, despite the interesting world and magical system created, the unique setting and the good mix of historical and fantasy, Blood Rose Rebellion couldn’t hold my interest. Had it given me a likable main character or a strong romance to root for, the reading experience could’ve gone a completely different way.
*If you liked this review (or not), if you read the book (or not), come say hello and leave your comments bellow.