Genre: Young Adult; Fantasy; Historical Fiction
Publication Date: 28 March 2017
“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 Romani, 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.”
My Thoughts: On the one hand, Rosalyn Eves creates a story that is unlike most of the other young adult fantasy novels in existence. She sets her novel about magic and those who have it versus those who don’t amidst the very real Hungarian rebellion against Austria in 1848. Unfortunately, Blood Rose Rebellion stumbles in its execution, and the story is lackluster in suspense and a bit too obvious in its character development. The result is a novel that has promise but fails to deliver and leaves this reader at least unlikely to continue with the series.
One of the main issues with Blood Rose Rebellion is its predictability. It is as if Ms. Eves had the formula for every YA novel and checked off the blocks as she added each element. Romantic interest? Check. Heroine considered an outsider for her opinions/actions? Check. Said heroine having a special ability that is the cause for all of her differences and hardships? Check. Heroine’s abilities make her the only one capable of making the necessary change to improve society? Check. Unlikely allies? Check. Heroine learning more about others outside her milieu and vowing to undo the wrongs implemented by the society in which her family dwells? Check.
There is little excite the reader, as the novel plods along with its familiar storyline and equally familiar dangers. For all of Anna’s burgeoning awareness of society’s class divides, her character’s development is weak. She remains a caricature of all magically gifted/special heroines. The remaining characters are equally weakly developed. Combined with the all-too-common story, there is little to no suspense to entice a reader and a lack of interest in the characters themselves to want to continue their story.
Still, Ms. Eves does a decent job of bringing 1848 London and the Hungarian people to life. That her heroine is not a blue-blooded Englishwoman but has roots in the Slavic countryside is a commendable choice if only because it is outside of the norm. While Anna is far from a person of color, she is at least not 100 percent anglicized either. The other pleasant surprise is how well Ms. Eves incorporates real historical events and places into her fantasy. There really was a Hungarian revolution against the Austrian empire in 1848, just as monarchies were being challenged all across Europe as the growing divide between the haves and have-nots became political fodder. While her version may be more entertaining than the real events, her discussion of the politics behind the revolution remains accurate and therefore worthwhile.
Unfortunately, while a fantasy set into historical events is a welcome difference to the young adult fantasy genre, there are too few distinctions to separate Blood Rose Rebellion from the masses. Anna was a bit too passive and unwilling to take action for most of the novel, and the rest of the cast never lost their one-dimensional descriptions. The magic, while interesting, felt a bit too convenient, and there are certain scenes involving the magic that remain confusing due to its lack of decent explanations. The story never takes off and becomes that unputdownable force that marks an excellent novel, and you never connect with Anna in a way that would allow you to care about what happens to her. In the end, Blood Rose Rebellion is an unremarkable story that never rises to its potential.