by A.G. Howard
Published on January 10, 2017 by Amulet Books
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
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In this modern day spin on Leroux’s gothic tale of unrequited love turned to madness, seventeen-year-old Rune Germain has a mysterious affliction linked to her operatic talent, and a horrifying mistake she’s trying to hide. Hoping creative direction will help her, Rune’s mother sends her to a French arts conservatory for her senior year, located in an opera house rumored to have ties to The Phantom of the Opera.
At RoseBlood, Rune secretly befriends the masked Thorn—an elusive violinist who not only guides her musical transformation through dreams that seem more real than reality itself, but somehow knows who she is behind her own masks. As the two discover an otherworldly connection and a soul-deep romance blossoms, Thorn’s dark agenda comes to light and he’s forced to make a deadly choice: lead Rune to her destruction, or face the wrath of the phantom who has haunted the opera house for a century, and is the only father he’s ever known.
This book was provided by the publisher (via NetGalley) for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
You tell me that a book is inspired by Phantom of the Opera and expect me to just let it stay untouched on the shelf? I don’t think so!
I adore Phantom and when I heard about RoseBlood, a twisted re-telling of the story, my hands couldn’t get a hold of it soon enough. Unfortunately, my expectations were a bit too high and I didn’t enjoy the book nearly as much as I had hoped.
Rune is a young woman with an unnatural skill for song. Her family sends her to a school in France in order to help her gain control of this power, but stories of the mysterious Phantom from old abound. RoseBlood really captures the mystery and darkness that I’ve always associated with Phantom, following as a sequel of sorts form the original events.
Unfortunately I really struggled to finish this book. This is my first attempt at anything by A.G. Howard and I’ve heard wonderful things about her Splintered series. Combined with the inspiration for RoseBlood, I was excited to see this new spin on the tale. What I found were excessive info dumps, writing that circled and circled around an idea without ever really reaching it (as if it was meant to be over the top and a bit flowery to fit the Phantom vibe but didn’t quite reach it), and characters that I really didn’t care about.
I neither liked nor hated Rune. I honestly didn’t feel much toward her period. I wasn’t rooting for her or shipping her with the love interest (a.k.a. Thorn). There was no connection and even the ending was a “meh” moment.
The thing with RoseBlood is that the concept is intriguing, captivating, enticing. The writing isn’t all that bad either, though some of the elements didn’t work for me. When it came down to it, I was simply bored. I didn’t find the magical realism business going on in any way believable, nor did I buy into the romance between Rune and Thorn even in the soulmate-type sense that you tend to see in YA paranormal romances (not really sure if this was more paranormal or fantasy but you get the idea). Honestly, it kind of gave me a stalkerish vibe after a while.
Frankly, I should’ve trusted my gut with this one. I have this habit of rating a book within the first 10-20 pages. I had this one pegged from about page 3 and nothing changed after that. And I think that if I allowed myself to DNF books more often, this would have made that list. I just found nothing special about it, though it hasn’t turned me off of the author’s work since it was only one book (and a standalone at that), so I’ll be giving her Splintered books a try someday. But as for this one, RoseBlood was too much like a stage play. Beautiful on the outside, on display, a bit of a chaotic mess behind the scenes and beneath the cover.