(Website, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads)on March 28th 2017
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.
Blood Rose Rebellion is the first in the series by Rosalyn Eves and I have to admit, I wanted to read this the second I read the summary. The description sets this book up to have a historical feel alongside the fantasy of magic and those are some of my favorite combinations lately. I also have to mention the cover as one of the things I love because of course, that is one of the first things I notice and I think it is perfect.
The main character is Anna Arden and while her family is part of the Luminate, which in society includes those with powerful magic, Anna is looked at as faulty. See, she doesn’t have magic and is considered barren in fact, she typically breaks the spells that people do around her. Because of this, she isn’t very optimistic about her future within society and when her sister’s debutant spell is broken by Anna, she is sent away to Hungary with her grandmother.
Anna was an interesting lead character. She loves her family but the only one who really knew what she was going through as a barren was her younger brother. Of course, she wanted to shield him from the things she experienced as a barren but when they are separated it seemed like that was the thing she had the hardest time with, not the separation from her parents and sister. It was hard not to feel sorry for Anna at certain points of the book. With that said, I had mixed feelings about her. There were things I liked and things I wasn’t so fond and I think because I felt this way about the main character, the rest of the story didn’t exactly win me over.
I think the big reveal behind Anna’s lack of power was just not as surprising as perhaps it should have been based on the way it was set up. I also wasn’t loving any of the love interests in this book. Yes, multiple there. It is set up in a way that I thought I knew who was going to be “the one” because she clearly has feelings for the Romani boy, Gabor but their relationship didn’t really convince me that they truly felt strongly for one another. In fact, the way the book progressed, there was a point where I thought she would never see Gabor again…ever.
One of the things I did like was the way Eves set this up as a historical novel. Since it is set in the 19th century, Anna has to conform to the rules of society and with the challenges she is continually facing around her non-magic, it isn’t exactly easy but she does manage to skirt the edge of propriety by involving her cousins so she can do what she needs to and meet with those she wants to.
The other aspect of the story that I liked was the idea of a revolution. In the current state, the Luminate controls the magic so those with the strongest magic have the most power. There is a faction within the Luminate that believes this isn’t right and of course, there are those outside the Luminate that believe the same. As Anna gets pulled into thick of the revolution, she has to decide what she believes in and what she is willing to do to stand up for that decision.
I also thought that Eves did a good job of building out the world for these characters. Everything from attending a ball to Anna seeing exactly where the binding is…it was all described well in the story and wasn’t difficult for me to picture exactly what she was walking into or surrounded by.
Overall this book was just okay for me. There have been a number of historical YA fantasies that I have absolutely adored and I wanted to feel the same about this one but it fell a bit flat for me. I will say, that the epilogue has me intrigued for book two of this series so it is on my to read shelf as I am very curious to see where Eves will go with the story she left us with at that end of this book. If you are interested in something with a historical feel with a mix of magic, rebellion, and otherworldliness, check this one out.
Thank you to the publisher for the review copy.