Sunday, March 5, 2017

Review: Blood Rose Rebellion by Rosalyn Eves

by Rosalyn Eves
Knopf Books for Young Readers
YA Fantasy (Historical Elements)
412 pages

MARCH 28th, 2017!!!

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.


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, this is a solid YA read with a very rich world, which offers a lot of possibilities in the rest of the series. I can't wait to see book two and would have already read it if it were available. Guess, I'm going to have to be patient . . .so hard!

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