Blood Rose Rebellion by Rosalyn Eves
Published March 28, 2017 by Knopf Books for Young Readers
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 received an ARC of this novel when it first came out. Although I was very excited to read this, it took me FOREVER and a day to get to it. Now that I've read it, I'm rather angry with myself that I did not immediately open the dang thing and begin! What the heck was I thinking?!?!
The world building in this novel absolutely blew me away. Two separate countries and two very different forms of magic are vividly described. Despite the large amount of effort that this requires, Eves makes it seem as real as life. I could feel the exact same confusion and bewilderment that Anna experiences at the same time as she does. It takes a good author to build a world, but this great author shoves you right into the middle of the one she creates.
In addition to fabulous world building, Eves creates beautiful characters. Of these, my favorite is Gabor. This gentleman is the perfect image of chivalry and grace. I loved seeing the way that he cared for Anna from afar and how he was more willing to put her needs and her future ahead of the things that he wanted for himself. Matyas was written just as wonderfully. Which, in retrospect, is funny because I hated his stupid butt at the very beginning of the novel. Who just randomly kisses their cousin like they are on a fifth or sixth date? That was disgusting. But the sacrifices that he chooses to make at the end of the novel are truly his redemption. Although I'm desperately trying not to give any spoilers, I will say that I cried with the way that the novel ends for Matyas. Like a freaking baby.
Unfortunately, the entire book cannot be seen through rose colored glasses. Anna's character seemed so unrealistic at various times in this book. I know that a human being has moments of strength and of weakness, but Anna seems to flip through these too quickly. What is she? A frail little flower or a strong heroine? Even after finishing the novel, I don't know how to answer this question and that is a problem.
Another weak point of this novel is the falling action. It took far too long to fall. I found myself white knuckling my way through the beginning and then later on wishing that it would finally come to an end. Soon, the end was in sight and the story began to pick up once more. I absolutely adored the fast paced portion of the novel, but then found myself wanting to quit when things slowed down. Eves definitely needs to work on pacing to maintain her audience's attention.
Overall, I truly enjoyed this novel and am excited to read the second and third books in the series.