"A magical tale unlike anything you've read before." —Bustle
"[A] richly imagined 19th-century historical fantasy." —EW, A-
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 Romani, 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.
“A fast-paced historical fantasy full of magic, romance, and adventure!”—JESSICA DAY GEORGE, New York Times bestselling author of Silver in the Blood
About the Author
Rosalyn Eves is a professor of English living in southern Utah and is involved in the YA community there and across the country. Blood Rose Rebellion is her debut novel. Find out more at rosalyneves.com and @RosalynEves.
Read an Excerpt
London, April 1847
I did not set out to ruin my sister’s debut.
Indeed, there were any number of things I deliberately did not do that day.
I did not pray for rain as I knelt in the small chapel of our London town house that morning, the cold of the floor seeping into my bones. Instead, I listened to Mama’s petition for successful spells and sunshine. Peeking through my lashes at Catherine’s smug face, I yearned to ask for disquiet, disorder, and torrential downpours--calamitous words that might have eased, a little, the restless crawling in my heart. But I swallowed the words unsaid. Even should God heed such a treacherous prayer, my father would not. Though Papa’s weather magic would cost him a headache, my sister would dance under clear skies.
I did not argue with Catherine when she banned me from the ballroom where she and Papa laid the final grounding for her illusions while Mama supervised the servants. “You’ll break my concentration and spoil my spells,” she said, though it had been years since I had spoiled anyone’s spell, accidentally or otherwise.
But then I did not go to the schoolroom, where I was expected to improve my sketching while my brother, James, studied his Latin. Instead, I lingered (Mama would say loitered) in the lower hall, watching the servants scurry back and forth with their brooms and buckets and cleaning cloths, in feverish preparation for the ball. I did not rest, as Catherine did.
Because of those omissions, I was in the hallway when Lord Frederick Markson Worthing came calling. I heard Freddy’s signature knock--two short, three long--and my heart leapt.
Barton reached the door first and sent me a cross look down his long nose. He accepted a small white visiting card from Freddy, and I slipped into the open doorway.
“Lord Markson Worthing!” I smiled up at him, remembering just in time to use his formal name. “Won’t you come in?”
I didn’t have to look at Barton to know his brows were lowering. Our butler disapproved of forwardness in general and of me in particular.
Freddy returned my smile, his gloved hands tightening around the bouquet of roses he carried. “Thank you, Miss Anna. Only for a moment. I don’t want to leave my horses standing too long in this wind.” In truth, Freddy had no need for horses. As a Luminate of the order Lucifera, he could compel the carriage with spells. But he preferred the aesthetic of his matched bays, which drew the eye and required less effort to maintain than magic.
Barton led us upstairs to the Green Drawing Room, so named for the ivy pattern sprawling across the wall and the deep emerald drapes. “I will notify your mother, Miss Anna.”
Freddy and I sat on matching high-backed chairs near the window. Freddy leaned toward me, nearly crushing the roses he held. He smelled of tobacco and cinnamon.
“I hoped I might see you.”
My face grew warm as I met Freddy’s intent gaze. I had first encountered Freddy only a few days after we arrived in town for Catherine’s season, to launch her into Luminate society. As the son of an old school friend of Papa’s, he had come to pay his respects. But though he had talked to Catherine, he had looked at me. Two days later, our paths crossed by accident in Hyde Park, and after that, by design. My maid, Ginny, might suspect the frequency with which Freddy appeared during our errands about London, but she was the only one who knew of our involvement.
There was no one in the world I liked so well as Freddy. I admired the way his honey-colored hair curled a little above the collar of his coat. I adored his eyes, which were not really grey but a band of blue around a center of brown. And I loved him for the way the corners of his lips trembled when he was impassioned: when he spoke about his plans for a seat in the Luminate-led Parliament, or his dreams of a salon in London where Luminate could mingle freely with artists, poets, politicians, and scientists, where wit would trump magic, and ideals would matter more than money.
There was little room in the real world for people like me, but there might be room in Freddy’s. We would be a good match, equals in passion and intelligence. I would bring the money his family lacked; he would provide the magic I lacked.
“I have something I want to say to you. Will you be at the ball tonight?”
“I am not yet out,” I reminded him. And Mama does not trust me around magic.
“Then meet me. In the herb garden, at midnight.”
The heat in my cheeks deepened. I rearranged my skirts, pretending a composure I did not feel. “Very well.”
“Good girl.” Freddy stood then and adjusted his top hat. “I must go.” He thrust the flowers at me, roses of a red so deep their centers were almost black. The petals spilled over my fingers like blood.
I watched him walk away, admiring the straight line of his back. In the doorway, Freddy spun around to face me. “The flowers are for Catherine. See that she gets them, will you?”
“Anna?” Grandmama stood in the doorway, her fingers tight around her cane. “Has Lord Markson Worthing gone already?”
I looked up from the flowers. “He couldn’t stay. His horses were waiting.”
“And you were alone with him this entire time?” Her mouth was pursed, her Hungarian accent more pronounced. First Barton, now Grandmama. At least Grandmama’s disapproval stemmed from affection.
My shoulders lifted a little. “He left these for Catherine.” I held out the roses and wondered if Grandmama would guess how much hid behind that small truth. Though it was customary to bring flowers to a debutante, I could not fathom what Freddy meant by asking me to meet him at midnight but leaving me with my sister’s roses.
“Do not shrug. It is not ladylike.” Her dark eyes studied my face, guessing at my discontent. “And do not pine so for Luminate society, for the magic and the dancing. You are enough just as you are--and you are not yet seventeen, szívem. Your turn will come.”
“Mama would hide me in the country if she could.”
“Your mama loves you. She is afraid for you, is all.”
I did not believe that. Mama was afraid of me, of my strange lack of magic and my caprices. My fingers found a missed thorn on one of the roses, and I snapped it off.
Grandmama sighed. “Give me those flowers. I will take them to Catherine. You should go upstairs before your mama finds you.”
I relinquished the roses, but their scent followed me down the hall like a promise.
I sat on Catherine’s bed, hugging my knees to my chest. As children, we had often sat on Mama’s bed, watching Mama transform through the artifice of her maid from an ordinary mother into something resplendent and strange. I did not know if Catherine was thinking of our old habit when she summoned me or of flaunting her debutante status.
Catherine’s maid attached a small coronet of pearls to my sister’s mahogany hair. Catherine surveyed her reflection in the ornate mirror, smiling at the effect. Her image seemed unfamiliar, her usual severity softened by the glass and the late-afternoon light. Behind her, I could see the smaller circle of my face, a pale smear of flesh with dark holes for eyes.
I disliked mirrors. Sometimes when I looked at them aslant, I caught an uncanny doubled image, as if I were not one person but two--as if I were a stranger in my own skin. I never knew if such reflections were a by-product of my lack of magic or merely a defect in my vision.
Catherine must have seen something in my look to distrust, because she whirled suddenly. “Anna, you will be good, won’t you? You know how much tonight means. I have worked so hard for this moment.”
I did know. Catherine was almost frightening in her single-mindedness, and the only thing she wanted more than a dazzling marriage was a position in the Circle, the elite group of Luminate who governed all magic. If her debut spells were suitably impressive, she might be invited to apprentice with one of the Circle members, lifting her into the highest echelon of Luminate society.
“What would I possibly do? I won’t be anywhere near you.” Except at midnight, in the gardens.
“Strange things happen around you. You’re so very . . .” She paused, searching for the right word.
“Quixotic? Unconventional? Immodest?” All those, and worse, had been hurled at me by exasperated governesses in the past.
Her brows drew together, a faint tuck of disapproval. “You’ll never get a husband with that attitude.”
“Perhaps I don’t want one.” My eyes dropped to the soul sign glimmering above Catherine’s collarbone: the illusion all full-blooded Luminates learned to craft upon entering society, evidence of their magic, just as their jewels witnessed their wealth, and their titles their lineage. Hers was a white rose with fire in its heart. I thought of the sign I would craft, if I could: a peregrine falcon, perhaps--fierce, swift, and strong.
Catherine could not know how galling it was to live in our world as I did. Every noble-born came into their Luminate magic after their Confirmation at age eight--except me. Without magic, everything about me was suspect: my lineage, my quality, my education, my very self. I had no hope of belonging to Luminate society unless I could marry into power, but as Mama frequently pointed out, no one of any position would choose someone so flawed. I would have no fancy debut, as Catherine would, because it would serve no purpose. Yet my noble blood barred me from seeking an occupation among commoners unless I wished to cut myself off from my family.
Until Freddy, I had not realized I might have a future.
My sister ran her fingers along the rim of the cut glass vase now holding Freddy’s roses. “Lord Markson Worthing will be there. He has been so attentive lately.” She glanced at me from under her eyelashes, a demure trick I could never hope to master. “I know you like him, Anna. But you should understand he would never look at you. Not seriously. His father intends him to marry me.”
My hands curled tightly on the coverlet of Catherine’s bed. What was it Freddy wished to tell me? That he loved me--or that he meant to court Catherine? I did not think I could bear it if he married her. She only cared for his name and his title and his family.
She did not deserve him.
At ten minutes to midnight, I set down my book of poetry and smoothed the sleek coils of dark hair around my ears. As a treat, James and I had been served some of the supper dishes in the schoolroom: lobster, dressed crab, rice croquettes, tongue sliced so thin it was almost transparent, pastries, cheeses, pulled bread, and iced pudding. James had eaten himself into a stupor and was now snoring on the rug, a book of fairy tales long forgotten beside him. I covered him with a quilt and crept down the stairs to my father’s library.
I hesitated in the doorway, listening. Were I an Elementalist like Papa, capable of manipulating wind and light, I could set a spell on the air to tell me whether anyone lurked nearby. As it was, I had to rely on my own senses. Beneath the distant echo of voices and music, I heard only the quiet spit and crackle of fire in the grate, so I plunged into the room, crossed the carpet, and pushed my way out the large French doors into the garden.
A gentle breeze caressed my cheek, part of the wind charm Papa used to keep the smoke and fog of London from our garden. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath, smelling green and growing things. After the threatening sky of the afternoon, the evening had come on clear. Papa did not often use his magic, but when he did, his handiwork was always finely wrought.
I followed a little-used path toward Grandmama’s herb garden. I loved her garden, especially in summer when the air was sharp with mint and basil. Even in winter I loved it: the bare, orderly plots waiting for spring, the neat circular walkway around the center.
The garden was empty when I arrived. The darkness of the night crept up my arms, settled under my heart. Freddy was not here.
A gust of wind brought with it the scent of roses from the ballroom, and I shivered. Perhaps Freddy was having difficulty getting away or negotiating the garden in the darkness.
Footsteps crunched on gravel behind me. My heart thumped, and I crouched down below the shadow of the hedge. I could not be seen. I was not supposed to be here.
A man’s low voice sounded; it was not Freddy. “There’s fighting again in Manchester, bloody lower classes demanding access to magic. Why can’t they simply accept the order of things? If they were meant to have magic, they’d have been born Luminate. There’s no magic in common blood. Riots and petitions for magic will not change that.”
A pause, then a second voice. “The commoners questioning is bad enough. But they say Arden is a heretic, wants to do away with the Binding.”
“Madness. How can he not see that breaking the Binding will undo the very social order that supports us?”
The hair at the nape of my neck lifted. Why should these men link Papa with the worker riots? He was no heretic. He believed in the sanctity of the Binding, the great spell that held all magic in a vast reservoir of power, accessible only to those with Luminate blood.
“So I’ve heard. But his younger daughter’s Barren and his son’s nearly so. What more would you expect from such a family?”
“The elder daughter is comely enough. I hope for her sake her blood runs truer than her sister’s.”
My cheeks burned as the voices muted, moving out of range. I tried to push the conversation from my mind. I hated that people could speak so casually of my family, dismissing us--me--as so much gossip.
A fresh wind plucked at my hair and sleeves, and I smelled tobacco and cinnamon. My heart lifted; Freddy had come. I straightened and turned to face him. I was tall for a girl, nearly of a height with Freddy.
He took my hand, linking my cool, gloveless fingers with his gloved ones, and led me to a bench. “I’m sorry I was late. I was held up talking with Lady Dorchester.”
Excerpted from "Blood Rose Rebellion"
Copyright © 2018 Rosalyn Eves.
Excerpted by permission of Random House Children's Books.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I always hate DNF-ing a book and while I forced myself to finish this one, it was exactly that: forced. I made it about 30% of the way through before losing all energy and interest in continuing. After much consideration, I convinced myself to give it a second try and just read it. People raved about it, there must be something decent about it, right? If I'm going to read a book, I need to feel some sort of hook within the first few chapters. Frankly, my biggest issue with Blood Rose Rebellion is that it bored me. You can throw all the world-building at me and it won't make a difference if the writing isn't engaging me as the reader. There's a lot of history at work here and maybe if I was more well-versed in Hungary and past politics and all that (though the book is obviously fictionalized), I might have enjoyed that element more. But I wasn't looking for a historical young adult novel. I was looking for a fantasy with historical tie-ins and I think this ended up being more of the opposite. The world bogged down the story and I wasn't particularly fond of Anna. She struck me as a special little snowflake who had a long way to go before maturing and it was taking far too long for me to like her. The rest of the cast didn't strike me as anything special either. There aren't any standouts, any memorable aspects. I finished reading this book and my brain decided it had better things to think about. There was so much going on in Blood Rose Rebellion that I feel like none of these issues should even exist. The magical element alone offered a realm of possibilities but was never clearly explained (at least, enough for me) nor took enough of a role for me. Plus, this book is slow. Oh my goodness I sat at 30% for ages. I almost didn't come back to it but, again, I though that just MAYBE something would redeem it. Instead, the plot moved at a sluggish pace making reading far more difficult that it should have been and, combined with a dislike of the protagonist, I just didn't want to continue. I shouldn't have. I should have DNfed it earlier on. I'm mentally cursing myself for bothering because Blood Rose Rebellion hit all the YA fantasy cliches and is now lost to the void of books I will never remember. I think this book excelled at the historical elements but the addition of the fantastical ones and using a character with a flat voice and no intriguing elements to her personality left this book better left with history itself. I doubt I'll attempt any future books in this series but may pick up other titles by the author down the road.
This book was fascinating and honestly really surprising! The plot revolves around mid 19th century European high society and the use of magic. Knowing this before I read the book, I was expecting it to fit a very specific and perhaps cliche kind of story line, and was very surprised at how well it broke away from that expectation. The story incorporates a lot of European history, to the point that the author clearly did a lot of research and knew what she was talking about. This fact was even more impressive as the novel was set in an alternate history because of the aspect of magic. The mix of true historical and fiction was seamless and very engaging as readers can notice subtle remarks on historical points such as the Hapsburg family, Napoleon’s reign, influences of the Rococo period, and authors that would have been contemporary to the period such as Jane Austen, and how those points would have been different in a world where magic added to high society’s authority over others. I really enjoyed this blend and how well it was put together to build up the book Another part of the writing that I loved about this novel was how Eves was able to avoid cliches in her descriptions. Unique adjectives and descriptions are very difficult to use in a story that involves magic and high society, both of which have been written about so often they have become almost cliche topics themselves. However, Eves was able to find surprising but very fitting descriptions for the settings, characters, and happenings of the novel. For example, the main character was at times described as “gripping” her hands together until her fingernails “pricked” her palms, instead of as “clenching” her fists till her nails “dug into” her skin. This also made the book more enjoyable to read and gave it further depth. Overall, this book is a great read and a very engaging one! I really enjoyed reading and learning from it.
Rosalyn Eves’ debut novel, Blood Rose Rebellion blends, magic, history, and romance in a compelling YA tale. Set in 19th century Europe, it tells the story of a young girl, Anna, whose lack of magical powers makes her an outcast in a society where magic is linked to birthright and social class. After ruining her older sister’s debut spell, she travels from England to Hungary, where she becomes mixed up in a self-determination movement. She is urged by several people to break the Binding which controls the flow of magic in her society. Some of the main themes explored in this novel include that of being an outsider, being more powerful than you realize, overcoming prejudices, and the complex relationship between captives and their captors. The characters, which include real life Hungarians like the poet Petőfi, are compelling and include one of the most ambivalent characters since Severus Snape, but with better reasoning for his dubious behavior. Along with historical facts like the brutal treatment of Romani people, the novel also draws on Hungarian myths, history, and language to make the story feel both real and fantastical. Allusions to the works of writers like Shakespeare and Charlotte Brontë also add to the sense realism. At times, the descriptions of extravagant balls and development of familial relationships seems to stall the development of the plot. Though the writing is enjoyable, some of these details verge on the excessive. Occasionally, it was difficult to motivate myself to continue reading. However, pushing through was rewarding because all of the aforementioned elements do come together to form a satisfying conclusion, which answers the important questions about Anna’s origins and place in society, while also creating a foundation for potential sequels.
I found Rosalyn Eves' "Blood Rose Rebellion" to be an interesting addition to the genre of historical fiction, but ultimately an underwhelming and unremarkable read. Eves' definitely chose an interesting idea for her book: how a nobility-controlled system of magic would have affected the Hungarian revolution during the days of the Austria-Hungary Empire. However, I personally found her characters to be unbelievable and unrealistic. The protagonist, a young girl who is noble-born but lacks magical powers, came across as superficial and overly concerned about what her love interest thought about her. Other important characters made large and story-changing decisions without any sense of character development or rational motives, lending the story a certain lack of believability. Often, the protagonist would come up against massive issues that were of major importance to the plot, but then twenty or thirty pages later would make decisions that seemed to completely disregard or ignore the problems that were just elaborated. In my opinion, this disharmony between the reality of the story and the character’s actions also weakened the plot. This was my biggest problem with the book, however, and if you can get over your frustration with some of the character's behavior, the book itself is well-written and enjoyable enough. Eve's clearly did her research and includes many details about life in the timer period of the book, as well as some of the events leading up to the Hungarian revolution for independence, so history buffs would find value in this book. That being said, I for one did not enjoy the book quite enough to want to continue reading the series.
I thoroughly enjoyed the plot of Rosalyn Eves’ Blood Rose Rebellion as it takes place in nineteenth century Europe in the midst of a rising political rebellion. Eves uses Anna's lack of magic to juxtapose her from her family which causes the plot to moves forward. I wanted to know how Anna would find her place in this magical nineteenth-century world. However, the story became even more engaging when Anna eventually finds herself connecting to the lower classes of Hungarian society and becomes the secret weapon for the rebellion. Although she cannot wield magic, she does have the rare and unique power to break spells. She is the only one who can ignite the revolution. Although I’m well into my twenties, I still found the plot of this young adult novel entertaining and captivating. From the beginning, I was fascinated by the mix of history, magic, and folklore. Not only did Eves include magical creatures, but she also used Hungarian and German terms to tap into these cultures’ folklore and fairy tales. However, while the writing and the plot were enticing, at times I felt that there was a lacked detail. I noticed this more in scenes where magic occurred or in the description of a character. I wondered though, if this was Eves’ intent. Perhaps, she wanted to leave room for the audiences to fully imagine these scenes or characters on their own. Still, I am a reader who likes to receive all possible details. Besides the occasional lack of detail and a few minor editing issues, I would recommend this book! Especially as a mother, I would feel completely comfortable for my children to read this book on their own as it’s full of action, folklore, and magic!
In London, in the mid-1800’s, Anna Arden lives a life of high society, marked by the ability to use magic. Only she can’t perform the simplest of spells. But she can break them, though she doesn’t know how. There are some who believe that magic should be available to any who wish to use it. They believe the rich and powerful restrict magic from the common people in a spell called The Binding under the pretense that it is to protect the untrained from having their magic become a danger. These people want to use Anna to break The Binding. But there are others who will do whatever it takes to stop her. This first novel in a new trilogy had potential, but it fell flat. It starts off well enough, then the tension fades and the pace slows for almost half the book. I almost gave up after a hundred pages, but I wanted to be sure I really gave it a fair chance. After about a hundred more, I stopped. The action was finally picking up, but I had little connection or concern for any of the characters, especially the main character. Anna, who is sixteen, leaves an impression of immaturity that I couldn’t shake. The few hints of something deeper in a couple of other characters weren’t fleshed out enough to make a connection. The only exception is the Romani young man, Gabor, who feels like he doesn’t fit among his own people, and is unwelcome in Anna’s world. The basic idea of the plot is interesting, but there was too much downtime in what should have been an intense, action packed story. I received a copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.
I’m going to keep the main review of “Blood Rose Rebellion” short, because there are some other issues I’ve seen mentioned that I feel it’s important to give my opinions on. This book has complex world-building, a fun romance, and quite a bit of action. It’s an enjoyable read for those who like historical fantasy. The characters are developed to a certain degree, with some mystery being left for the next book in the series. If you like those things, this book is worth a read. Now for the heavy stuff. I’ve seen some complaints about there being racism in the book. Some people have not finished it. Yes, the word gypsy is used quite a bit. That’s because the story is set in mid-1800s Hungary. As the main character gets to know them, her opinions change and that is reflected in her attitude. In fact, the author introduces the term Romani at that point, even though historically it wasn’t in use at the time. There’s an entire section at the end written by the author about the treatment of the Romani during the time, along with a bibliography for more information. What I’m saying is please don’t let accusations of racism scare you away from “Blood Rose Rebellion.” Ignoring the harsh realities of history is a disservice to everyone, and I applaud the author for being brave enough to tackle it. This unbiased review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher.
pooled ink Reviews: 4.5 Stars I wasn't quite sure what to expect but my hopes were high. This book was different from what I'd presumed but was not at all disappointing. Was it perfect? Not at all, and yet it was magical just the same. This book could be read as a standalone in many ways, which I love, and overall I find that I really was swept away by this book. Maybe it’s because I’m partial to the setting and history from which it is inspired, but I think Eves crafted a very good book beyond that. But if historical fantasy isn't your genre of choice then this might not be for you. I will say that it’s not an action book, but with the magic twist of this book it takes things quite a bit darker, bloodier, and more exciting while still staying true to the students and revolutionaries who brought forth this important shift in Hungarian history. Reading how she mixed in fact with fantasy was fascinating and makes me want to research more on my own. There was romance but it flickered warmly in and out like a warm candle flame as the plot chose to focus on Anna and not Anna plus some hot guy. I actually really liked this. Her love interest was woven throughout her path like a ribbon in a tapestry, but was not the destination of this story nor its anchor. I love a good romance but it’s also nice to read a book where your hopes and fears reside within the tumultuous plot and not just the love of a suitor. That being said I very much admired Gábor and will be very upset if he and Anna don’t get a happily ever after together when this series is all said and done. Thrilling, poised, and enchanting, BLOOD ROSE REBELLION spins a tale of magic and revolution that mixes Hungarian folklore with fact and fantasy. It’s a story red as the dawn that comes and black as the night that has passed. Read my FULL review on my Wordpress blog: Pooled Ink
This is the first book in a promising new YA trilogy series. It’s a historical fantasy loosely based on the Hungarian Revolution. The plot starts off strong then slows a bit in the middle before ending the story with a bang. It has a diverse cast of characters with a very conflicted female protagonist leading the way. There is a bit of romance, some action and a a lot of issues here including self-awareness, class divide, racism, and oppression. At the back of the book is an author’s note, character guide and glossary which is helpful for those of us who trip over unfamiliar names and foreign words. A good beginning that sets the stage for what is sure to be a sensational sequel.
You know that rare book that you HATE when it ends? (And even then you find yourself often smiling & living in that world) This is it. Elegantly written, enchanting and engaging. Settle in and enjoy! My rating: 6+
I'd heard quite a bit about this one and was excited to get my hands on an ARC. Although I planned on reading this over several days (at 412 pages, it's not a quick read), I ended up getting so drawn into the world that I read it one day. Anna is the daughter of a family in the elite society of England around the late 1840's and enjoys all of the luxuries of that time. There's one twist-magic. The upper class, also known as the Luminate, not only holds financial and political power, but in this story, are the only individuals born with the ability to control magic. Except for Anna. She's barren, which means there isn't a drop of magical blood in her bones. Still, being a member of the upper class, her life of luxury is guaranteed. When Anna's older sister has her coming-out ball, where she's not only to announce her ability to court possible suitors but demonstrates her magical abilities, Anna accidentally ruins the entire thing and falls under scrutiny of other elite members. And so it begins. The author has definitely done her historical research, and it was interesting to enter this time frame with all of its town, castles and (in some cases) historically inspired characters. The tumult of the time and the societal attitudes create a rich background for an often overseen period-Hungry's struggle for independence from Austria. Especially the clash between classes comes across nicely as do the prejudice attitudes toward outside groups such as the Romani. There's a large array of characters, each with their own opinions, goals, quirks and personalities. While some are easy to pin-point, others surprise and keep the plot on its toes. Especially Anna comes across as an average teenager of that time, her concerns focused on the ideals (in the beginning) that was expected. There were moments in the first half of the book, where some of her decisions/thoughts didn't make sense, but these only happened a few times, and by the second part of the book, disappeared into a more mature, level-headed character. Historical tidbits and descriptions accompany the plot the entire way through. They hold a careful balance to the tension and action, and although heavy at times, never weigh the story down. There are quite a few layers of intrigue- some concerning the historical battle and others surrounding the magical side, which keep the general pace high. Even when not visibly present, the threat of impending danger always lurks in the background. So it feels like Anna doesn't get time to take a breath very often. Romance weaves throughout the tale but doesn't overtake the main plot. In the beginning, Anna hits it hard with three kisses on three different guys, which causes a hiccup, but to her defense, it's not really her fault. It does, however, set her apart as a 'special snowflake', which will bother some readers. In general, though, the romance weaves in well with the plot. The logic behind the magical world flows well in the beginning but gets fairly complex by the end, and leaves a few holes. Several things which were presented in the beginning as threats, lost a little impact by the end. But this is only the first book in the series, so many of these things will probably still be touched upon. Summed up, I enjoyed the read and was completely caught up in the world. It's a solid YA read with a very rich world, which offers a lot of possibilities in the rest of the series. I received a complimentary copy + wanted to leave my thoughts
Let’s walk through this piece by piece. First, I have to commend Rosalyn Eves for her world building. Not only is there a historic setting, but a fantasy layer built on top of it which fabricates a beautiful and frightening world. There are some moments where it’s a lot of information to take in (info dumps), but during those moments you also appreciate how much went into this world. As a debut novel, the skill involved in formulating this level of world building is applause worthy! Also did I mention it takes place in Hungary? How cool is that?! Eves’ landscapes are just as impressive as the detailing of gowns and china that form a grounding spell of their own. So world building and details get an A+ in my book. As a writer, it’s more than impressive that I can still picture the streets Anna sees. Characters wise Anna grew on me. She's not your typical heroine and I LOVED all the literary references to Jane Eyre and Anne Radcliffe. Also, there's quite a bit of eye candy in this book -Ahem, William- so there's that going for it. Yes, everyone says the plot slows down in the middle, but I didn't really mind spending extra time in this world. What didn’t you like about this Camille? Well, there were definitely some weird vibes between Anna and her distant cousin, and I’m not all for this type of magic (I never read Harry Potter before, that’s just not my type of magic/fantasy), and there are some descriptive monsters that made my skin crawl, so yeah. Mostly it was just not my cup of tea with the magic and blood magic, but if you’re into that you should love it. Overall, I think it was a stunning debut and the craftsmanship of this novel deserves some praise!
In Blood Rose Rebellion, author Rosalyn Eves weaves a complex fantasy tale grounded in actual Hungarian history. The imagery is rich and the characters dynamic. The majority of the book is set in Hungary and cultural and historical details of the time are integrated nicely. There is a very nice plot (it says rebellion right there in the title) but the inner discovery and turmoil within Anna is the real arc of the book. Her development is very well done as she progresses from a young girl ostracized for being Barren (without magic) and banished from society after ruining her sister Catherine's debutante spell to a young woman in control of her own destiny and decisions. I liked how empowered she becomes. In multiple scenes she is dismissed as "just a girl". In one she gives back as good as she gets and in another scene she realizes she doesn't need to even bother with a response and just acts. While she had family, friends and allies with her throughout, this is her story through and through and she is the heroine. Overall, Blood Rose Rebellion by Rosalyn Eves is a well-written first novel and I can't wait for the next book. I very much recommend. (I voluntarily reviewed an ARC of this book I received from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my open and honest review.)
inevitably, blood is spilled in revolution and in blood rose rebellion things are no different. there is blood, but also magic, love, loss, anger. anna arden has always believed she understood her place in the world. not that she was happy with it. growing up in a well-established luminate family, she was expected to wield magic, her bloodline promised powerful magic. but her confirmation was a disaster. and so she was raised as a barren, one devoid of magic. this would affect her social standing, and in this version of victorian london, society and it's mores are much the same as our version of victorian london. even still she was different. she could feel magic. it called to her. and yet, something always went awry when magic was performed in her presence. it was as if she had the power to break spells, a talent that shouldn't be possible. a talent not easily explained by the teachings of luminate society. when anna breaks the magic of her sister's spell during her debut, she inadvertently sets herself up on a collision course with the circle, luminate's society's order of government. her ability to break spells threatens the foundation spell of their magical society. the binding spell that allows the circle to control who has access to magic. to protect her, she is sent away with her grandmother to relatives in hungary. anna is both resentful of this banishment and excited to be away from the strictures of london society. when she comes across a romani camp, gypsies, and sees that they are practicing some sort of magic, anna wants to learn more. how can these people harness magic if they are not luminate? she wants to learn more and convinces gábor, a young romani who she is drawn to, to teach her the romani's way with magic. except nothing works. until anna is able to understand her true nature, nothing will let her get closer to magic. and she will also be a pawn in everyone else's game. there is a growing sense of unrest within luminate society. and everyone pulls at anna, demanding she take action or no action, trying to influence her in a way that leaves her with only impossible choices. anna holds the fate of the world as she knows it in her hands. and she must decide if the risk of change is too great for action or if action is the only way forward. once she understands who she is, what it means for her to have been blessed? or cursed n this manner, only then can she find the way forward. this ya fantasy does a great job of balancing the light with the heavy. yes, there is romance and love triangles, and jealousy, but there is also political intrigue, class commentary, and real sacrifice. anna is forced to ask and answer some difficult questions. and the only way to know if they'll come out on the right side in the end. it'll be the only way for us to know too. because there's no way there isn't more to this story. **blood rose rebellion will publish on march 28, 2017. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/random house children's (knopf books for young readers) in exchange for my honest review.
This was a difficult book for me. It had many positive aspects but many negative ones as well. I'm going to start with the negative, then move to the positive to end on a good note. First off, the writing seemed all over the place to me. I really struggled to place myself in the story and the character's world and this was largely due to the writing style not matching the story. It is hard to explain but I do not think the writing was consistent with the depth of the story and the world if that makes sense. That being said, the writing quality did improve as the book went on and that was nice to see. On top of the lackluster writing, the plot was lacking the action typical of this genre that gets me into the book and hooked on the story. The plot was interesting sure, but I was not that invested in what was going to happen. And the way this book ended I have no idea how there are going to be two more books in this series. With a chapter or two more, this book could have tied everything up and been a fine standalone fantasy novel. The epilogue left a little bit open as to when the consequences of the end of the book are but not enough that I'm dying to read the next installment. One final thing I want to mention is something that conspired between two characters that really bothered me. We have multiple instances of distant cousins kissing, while this take place in the 1800s and that may be something that was more normal back then, it still left me uncomfortable every time it happened. These characters are most likely not endgame for Rosalyn Eves, but I still do not think it was necessary to the story. As for the positive aspects of this book, the magic system is by far the best part of this book. We have this fascinating magic system that I really wish we had more backstory and information about. There definitely was not enough world building done to fully explain the magic system and how the binding worked and how things were before the Circle. But this idea of a magic reservoir that people dip into when they go to cast a spell is unique and I even enjoyed the little bit of information we got about the different castes within the magic system. There are a lot of different powers that I wish we had gotten to delve further into. Maybe that will happen in subsequent books but not sure based on how this one ended. I'm not sure I will continue with this series, I may pick up subsequent books but I have no need to do so as I do with other first books in series. *Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for a copy of this book!*