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.
*An ARC was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.*
I apologize for posting an ARC review so close to the actual release date, but I’m going to blame it on the book just as much as I blame it on myself for lack of time management. Wow, talk about disappointing. Blood Rose Rebellion was one of my most anticipated fantasy releases this year, but what I wanted to be an exciting, thrilling, and rich fantasy turned out to be bland, uninteresting, and simply not as different, enrapturing, or likable as it should have been.
Blood Rose Rebellion follows Anna Arden, a sixteen-year old who is incapable of conduction and holding magic, and therefore ostracized from her society of powerful spellcasters. However, she does have a knack for breaking spells, and this lands in her hot water after accidentally breaking her older sister’s debut spell to properly enter Luminate society. Because of this, Anna is sent to Hungary along with her maid and grandmother temporarily until the drama surrounding the incident simmers down in London. In Hungary, Anna is surprised to find she is in demand as she stumbles upon secrets on top of secrets about the Luminate and their true intentions. With the backdrop of a Hungarian revolution, Anna realizes her role in the history of magic and takes part in a series of tricky decisions that might as well determine the fate of magic and European society.
I actually do like the time period and setting of this novel. It takes place in the 1800s and starts off in England, before switching over to Hungary. Unfortunately, these settings were barely expanded on or utilized to address more interesting elements such as the folklore, mythology, and overall social culture. There is a lot of talk from Anna on fitting in and wanting to belong in society, but the nature of that society is never even touched upon and I have no sense of identity from Luminate society. We are also only given glimpses of the Hungarian tales and myths, and those Hungarian terms used seemed to offend a whole lot of folks on Goodreads. We are only told the characteristics of certain places, events, and actions, it is never properly described or shown, so I honestly do not have much of a connection to what goes on most of the time throughout this book. Not to mention it was boring as hell! The storytelling was extremely pedestrian and draining, those info-dumps towards the beginning of the book partially added to my lack of focus on the book’s plot and world-building.
The characters are just as lifeless as the writing. I’m entirely indifferent to Anna Arden, she has no personality or character traits, there is nothing to make me hate her or like her. Usually, I’m inclined to dislike and be irritated by special snowflake female characters who get their ass kissed consistently, and while Anna is a special snowflake, she doesn’t annoy me or please me or make me feel anything. Before reading the book, I had made the mistake of assuming Anna would remain barred from society and not deemed as ‘special’, as this factor would lead to the journey of self-actualization, discovering oneself, and maybe even realizing magic and belonging in a group was not needed to feel confident and self-assured. I had thought Anna would be so much more than a cliched, typical, special snowflake. Y’all might think its a bit of a stretch, hoping for that much out a YA book, but I’ve always hoped that YA authors would learn from others’ mistakes and not repeat the same damn things. Sadly, I was severely let down, and hopefully this motivates you guys to not assume high expectations for any kind of book. The rest of the characters are just as lifeless. There is no fire, no vigor, no semblance of life in any of these people no matter how much they try to rebel, retort, fit in, or … do anything, really. It’s pretty sad to fail that spectacularly when there is a revolution and all this intrigue going on.
Much to my dissatisfaction, Blood Rose Rebellion was one of the most uninteresting books I have ever read, and trust me, I have read quite a few. I’ve always stated that a boring book is worse than a bad book, but I would take both of those rather than read a story that makes you feel absolutely nothing inside. Hopefully, y’all have a better experience with this one when it comes out tomorrow!