Blood Rose Rebellion by Rosalyn Eves
I’m still on edge about this book considering I finished it a few weeks back—hence why I haven’t posted this. Do you ever struggle between personal and craft opinions? Because personally, I don’t think I enjoyed some of the moments in Blood Rose Rebellion, but on a craft level, I can’t help but admire what Rosalyn Eves did!
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.
Now, I know Blood Rose Rebellion has been compared to Red Queen (which I’ve decided I really don’t care about) and the Grisha Trilogy (be steady my heart!)… But I feel like that is an unfair comparison. Why, you ask? Well, because the more I see Red Queen I cringe and wonder why everyone LOVES it (Please- someone tell me!) and I am still head-over-heels, over-the-moon in love with the Grishaverse (but I care less about SOC and CK- not sorry). So why bring in those predisposition to something that is carving its own path?
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 are always that moment that decide how I feel about a particular book (Looking at you ACOMAF— but that’s my current read and I won’t judge it yet. And yes, judge- I’m not in love with it.). I’m so touchy when it comes to whether I will enjoy a read or not, and the characters define that for me. I didn’t love Anna at first, but she grew on me in ways I didn’t think she would. Watching her grow as a character is what drew me in and makes me say she’s a strong female character in a way that isn’t cliché or trope-ish. The journey Anna goes on personally is something I appreciate. Though at moments she could use a little more development, I was happy that by the end she wasn’t your typical YA heroine. She is flawed, and she embraces those flaws— that is what I enjoyed most about seeing her play out on the page. In addition to the Radcliffe and Bronte references that made my English Major heart swoon, and laugh as Anna pictured herself the heroine in such a novel. She may have room to grow, but I think Anna is a fascinating heroine and I’m excited to journey with her.
There are plenty of men in Blood Rose Rebellion, not all whom I liked or loved, but William Skala stole my heart. And maybe it’s because he’s a redheaded Scot, but his passion and fervor which he pursues his conviction with is what make him such a wonderful and full-bodied character. SIDE NOTE: trying to read through Shadow Run and seeing conflict between characters ATROCIOUSLY LAME and fake and no conviction, I found William’s conviction in his argument such a refreshing development. Why can’t all character show and express their opinions in a way that creates conflict, not like in Shadow Run where it was basically He said She said and we’re mad at each other — LAME! But anyways, onward.
What really makes Blood Rose Rebellion a must read for me (Even though I still am at odds with some things. I’m getting to them.) is one of the resonating themes— and it revolves around monsters.
“But who can say, when you give a creature freedom, what he or she will choose? What will your world look like when you give all individuals the same rights? Can you say with certainty each person will use that power for good?”
What makes us monsters? Physically. Emotionally. In theory. There are very real monsters in Blood Rose Rebellion, but there are also the kind that hide in plain sight. We all contain monsters inside of us, it’s a matter of who we are that defines what we chose to do with that nature. This resonated with me because I’ve seen firsthand beautiful creatures turn into monsters like a light switch being flipped. I’ve had people I trusted do the same thing. Which monster do you want in the world? The ones you can see, or the ones you know exist but have no power over. The way Anna struggles with this notion is beautiful in its flawed and messy emotional state. That’s why Anna as a main character is relatable, she doesn’t just do it for cause or country, but she weighs each outcome throughout the novel in a way that is both personal and large scale. I appreciate what Eves crafted in this idea, because it’s so poignant in life and especially in social media where people turn like rabid pariahs smelling blood in the water over something easily resolved. But, I digress.
What didn’t you like about this Camille? You said you had personal issues with it? Well, there were definitely some weird vibes between Anna and her distant cousin (it includes a kiss), 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.
I want to rate this three, but because of the writing and craft I have to say four stars. The descriptions (albeit a bit much at times) and the world that Rosalyn Eves creates makes me marvel at each individual author’s strength in building and creating a world for readers to escape into. She does a fantastic job setting a world in motion and giving us characters to grow with. A job well done and deserving of recognition, despite personal preferences.