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.
3,75 to 4 stars
Not so long ago I wrote a post about ”The Power of Covers” and I confess that my buying decision for Blood Rose rebellion has also been made because the cover is so pretty! The cover alone deserves 5 stars!
Now I’m not a fool just a cover junkie and also based my decision on the good reviews Blood Rose Rebellion gathered among my friends.
Verdict: this book has its perks and does not lack assets but I still feel a tad disappointed. Maybe I had too high expectations? Don’t misunderstand me I certainly enjoyed my read but I just didn’t adore it. I feel there’s room for improvement. Hence the four stars.
What is this book about, what did I like and what would I change?
The book is about a young girl, Anna Arden born into high British society and whose family is a member of the Luminates. The Luminates are magic bearer living among common humans. They’re seen as the upper society thanks to their magic.
The story takes place in London under Queen Victoria’s reign and to my great delight we read about carriages, corsets, debutantes and dashing young men. I loved the setting!
The Luminates are ruled by queens and kings but often these sovereigns are mere puppets under The Circle’s iron fist. The true leaders are The Circle’s members, Luminates with the greatest powers.
At the bottom of the food chain poor humans mostly struggle to live a decent life. Of course resentment and unrest are festering. Give me social classes fight in a magical world any day I loved it!
Our female character, Anna can’t cast spells. She is deemed Barren aka without magic. What she CAN do is breaking spell. She’s even a Master Spell Breaker if I might say. It gave some disastrous results in her past and she’s been firmly ordered to stay away from her older sister’s debut. Catherine, Anna’s sister can build the most exquisite spells and would fit right among the elite.
Of course something will happen and Anna will break her sister’s spell wreaking havoc on the night. She’s attracted The Circle’s attention and will have to flee to her family native Hungary.
As already stated I loved the “historical” setting, the universe with Luminates living among humans and the social classes fight. I also loved the idea of a not “all powerful” female character. Anna is the anti-hero. Most fantasy stories have lead characters being masters of their craft, ninja warriors and never missing anything so different from Anna.
She is a total failure at spell casting. This will give a tremendous hunger for magic. All her life Anna felt like the ugly Duckling. She is desperate to fit into her society but to no avail. She does not fit among humans either. She has no place.
This is the crux of the story. What will drive her to seek stranger’s help. In her quest for magic she will set deadly events in motion. And by the end we will learn the truth about Anna.
“My shadow self –all the dark desires I tried to keep buried-had surfaced”
If I liked an imperfect heroine, I did not like her constant hesitations at all. I get that she does not know if what she’s about to do is the right thing. But there is a permanent back and forth: ”If I do it I will unleash monsters but that’s what some expect from me. If I don’t do it society won’t change, people will keep being oppressed and I won’t have any magic. But what if I release something worse? And..”
Let’s just say I can enjoy conflicted feelings but not permanent conflicted feelings about the same topic. To me it seemed never ending and I just wanted Anna to “make up your mind girl!”.
I sometimes had some eye rolls witnessing her naivety. Seriously if a powerful member of the society wants you to do something diminishing her powers I would question her motives! Now it has to be said that she is only sixteen about to turn seventeen. She’s lived a protected life in a Victorian era. So of course she would be naïve. In this I think the author was true to her character and I see room for Anna’s character development in the future books. You can’t have a sixteen years old “grown up” character in the first book and have her gain lots of maturity in the sequels. You would have too little margin and your sequel would be boring.
We also have many side characters adding layers to the story. Unfortunately I wanted some of these characters to be slightly more developed or more “in line” with what’s known of their people. I’m speaking about Gabor.
Yes in the beginning he was distant, aloof and deliciously mysterious. But soon after he lost his edge. I could not see any longer that he was Romani. I don’t mean I want a mockery of Romani people with all the stereotypes but for someone deemed to be proud, distant etc. He became “too common” too soon. I could have mistaken him for another commoner. I needed him to keep his edge.
What happened to Matyas was something dramatic that made me cry but soon enough it seemed “brushed under the rug”. I think what he did was tremendous and he would have deserved something more intense and dramatic. Missed opportunity to heighten the intensity?
Now don’t misunderstand me I had a good time reading Blood Rose Rebellion. I think I’m being so harsh because I expected more.
Will I read the second book? Yes as I want to know how this debut author will evolve. And I also want to know if I’m right about Anna’s character development.
Convinced? Grab your copy HERE