Published on March 28, 2017 by Knopf Books for Young Readers
Genres: Fantasy, Historical, Young Adult
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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.
I always hate DNF-ing a book and while I forced myself to finish this one, it was exactly that: forced. I made it about 30% of the way through before losing all energy and interest in continuing. After much consideration, I convinced myself to give it a second try and just read it. People raved about it, there must be something decent about it, right?
If I’m going to read a book, I need to feel some sort of hook within the first few chapters. Frankly, my biggest issue with Blood Rose Rebellion is that it bored me. You can throw all the world-building at me and it won’t make a difference if the writing isn’t engaging me as the reader. There’s a lot of history at work here and maybe if I was more well-versed in Hungary and past politics and all that (though the book is obviously fictionalized), I might have enjoyed that element more. But I wasn’t looking for a historical young adult novel. I was looking for a fantasy with historical tie-ins and I think this ended up being more of the opposite.
The world bogged down the story and I wasn’t particularly fond of Anna. She struck me as a special little snowflake who had a long way to go before maturing and it was taking far too long for me to like her. The rest of the cast didn’t strike me as anything special either. There aren’t any standouts, any memorable aspects. I finished reading this book and my brain decided it had better things to think about.
There was so much going on in Blood Rose Rebellion that I feel like none of these issues should even exist. The magical element alone offered a realm of possibilities but was never clearly explained (at least, enough for me) nor took enough of a role for me.
Plus, this book is slow. Oh my goodness I sat at 30% for ages. I almost didn’t come back to it but, again, I though that just MAYBE something would redeem it. Instead, the plot moved at a sluggish pace making reading far more difficult that it should have been and, combined with a dislike of the protagonist, I just didn’t want to continue. I shouldn’t have. I should have DNfed it earlier on.
I’m mentally cursing myself for bothering because Blood Rose Rebellion hit all the YA fantasy cliches and is now lost to the void of books I will never remember. I think this book excelled at the historical elements but the addition of the fantastical ones and using a character with a flat voice and no intriguing elements to her personality left this book better left with history itself. I doubt I’ll attempt any future books in this series but may pick up other titles by the author down the road.