RoseBlood by A. G. Howard
Published by: Amulet Books
Format: ARC e-book
Note: We received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
RoseBlood, if you can’t tell from the magnificent cover, is a retelling of Phantom of the Opera. Now, I’ll admit that I haven’t read the book or seen the musical, so the whole retelling element was a bit lost on me, but I did still manage to piece the story together, and gain some understanding of what Phantom is all about. From the off, then, this is a book for both lovers of Phantom, and complete newbies, like me! There was something quite Beauty and the Beast about the story too, so if that’s your cup of tea, you’ll totally love RoseBlood.
P L O T & S T O R Y T E L L I N G
Rune is possessed by this odd power that whenever she hears an opera, she can perfectly replicated it, and feels ill if she doesn’t let the music take over in the moment. In order to help her embrace her musical talent, her mother sends her to a French boarding school (Hello, Anna and the French Kiss vibes!) that’s dedicated to music, called RoseBlood. The school has some history with the legend of the Phantom and there’s rumours of a haunting behind the walls (wait, is this Gotham Academy? Yippee!)
Things start to get a little weird though when even more supernatural elements are blended with contemporary boarding school setting. Instead of this being a High School Opera, it’s really a story about secrets and vampires and…an ancient bloodline? At least, that’s what I was getting.
There is a lot of exposition, as Rune has meetings with her aunt, the mysterious boy Thorn and the Phantom himself, telling her all about her past and what she’s capable of. I got a little switched off at the constant relation of facts, and felt especially confused whenever there was a backstory moment, like the story of Etalon, who I think is the same person as Thorn (??) and what happened the last time Rune kissed someone.
It was just a very weird combination of things that felt like a hodgepodge I couldn’t make sense of. Until the very end that is, and I could start working backwards, like ‘oooooh, that’s what that meant!’
If you’re cool with this kind of secondhand story telling, it won’t be a problem, but too many times in this book it felt like I was being told to sit down and pay attention.
C H A R A C T E R
I absolutely loved the beginning, getting to meet Rune in the back of a limo. She got out her knitting to fill the time and I think that’s when I really started to like her. She also loved to garden, so it felt like she was really representing those hobbies we don’t see too often in YA.
At first I thought she was going to be your classic Gabriella, introduced to this new setting and suddenly stealing Sharpay’s thunder, but there was so much going on in her life that she didn’t even know about so she had very little time to deal with petty high school drama.
The only characters with real personality were Rune, Thorn and Erik, the Phantom. The secondary character felt very much like filler, and whenever they turned up I couldn’t help but mourn their unrealised potential. Like Audrey and Roxanne. We get this little sentence that says Roxanne is in love with Audrey, but Audrey’s in love with her twin brother. That seems like an extremely juicy side plot, or at least the next Robin Talley novel, and I wished the other characters felt more two-dimensional.
R E T E L L I N G
As I said, I didn’t know the original, but this story didn’t leave me in the dark. It was like it was written for people that didn’t know the story anyway, and there’s even a section at the back where the author tells you about all the fun research she did.
The ending reminded me a lot of the ‘Kill the Beast!’ section of B&B, and even if it didn’t happen like this, I’ll definitely imagine it all taking place on a sixth story balcony with heavy rain lashing down.
The Phantom was such an intriguing character too, I really wanted to know more about his backstory, so maybe this has given me enough inspiration to delve into the original, or at least listen to some songs from the musical.
V E R D I C T
Because I spend most of this book in a foggy state of confusion towards how everything was being pieced together, I’m giving RoseBlood 2.5 stars. I loved the fact it was a standalone, and that even if I was a little dazed, I appreciated that so much happened in this book to keep me interested until the very end. Now, let the Phantom fans descend!
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