I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Blood Rose Rebellion (Blood Rose Rebellion, #1) by Rosalyn Eves
Series: Blood Rose Rebellion #1
Published: March 28th 2017 by Knopf Books for Young Readers
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Source: the publisher
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Blood Rose Rebellion by Rosalyn Eves is a young adult dystopian/alt-history novel set in the mid-1800s. Anna Arden is born into high British society. In this book, magic is also tied to social class. The upper class, the Luminates, receive the ability to perform magic at their Confirmation as a child. But Anna is barren of magic, and feels like an outcast. Society will never accept her. But Anna has a secret: she isn’t just barren of magic, but she can break magic. And that power makes her dangerous. There’s a spell called the Binding that restricts magic so that only the Luminates can use it. It’s managed by a group of nobles known as the Circle. And if Anna breaks the binding, then power will be taken from the Luminates and restored to the people, so that anyone can have the opportunity to do magic. It could unravel the very fabric of society.
Anna’s power to destroy magic accidentally ruins her sister’s debut, and to cover up the scandal, Anna and her grandmother go on a trip to Hungary. Hungary is not what Anna expected, and even though society there is also pretty hierarchical, there’s more of an opportunity for Anna to encounter people who aren’t like herself. She starts to fall in love with a Romani named Gabor, and that’s where things get interesting, because Anna is an upper-class girl who has good intentions but is horribly naive. And she keeps trying to help, but she’s self-centered in part because of her upbringing and keeps making mistakes that make life worse for everyone around her. Anna struggles with wanting to determine her own fate, but then keeps making decisions that determine the fate of others. And then she realizes it, accepts it, learns from it, and course corrects. It’s the story of a woman of privilege realizing her privilege and working toward a more equitable society, and even though she doesn’t always get it right, she keeps trying. And that message seemed really important–that you can learn from your mistakes, change your worldview, and become a better person.
Unfortunately, it does follow a lot of YA tropes, like the main character who is a special snowflake with a power that’s unlike anyone else’s, insta-love, etc., but it’s forgivable. There are scenes that could have used a little more depth, and the character development was a bit lacking. But at the same time, it had a timely message, and was fast-paced and dark. And (thankfully) it doesn’t do that cliffhanger ending thing that is so popular in YA lately, which means that I can read the book, say “yay, that was a fun read” and then wait for the next one without getting angry and wanting to throw things because the next book doesn’t come out in forever. So that’s a plus.
Blood Rose Rebellion was a good light read. It’s kind of like a mashup between something by Stephanie Burgis and a book like The Jewel—all the danger and magic of a traditional dystopia, but with a historical vibe to it as well. If you don’t go in expecting high literature, you’ll enjoy it.