Author: Rosalyn Eves
Genre: Young Adult | Historical Fantasy | Romance
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: March 28, 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 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 (goodreads).
Blood Rose Rebellion has a great premise, but flounders in making a cohesive novel.
Plot: In the 19th century, classes are divided by magic and there are the Have's and the Have-Nots. The magic is controlled by The Circle and while Anna seems to be apart of the Have-Nots, a night during her sister's Performance has some rebellious groups looking at Anna in interest.
Blood Rose Rebellion opened fairly strong despite its info-dumping. Anna's relationship with her family seemed strained and I wanted to learn why she was treated like a pariah by society. My interest in Anna's ability to corrupt magic waned around the half-way mark of the novel because the pacing was all over the place. Once Anna's life was uprooted from England to "uncivilized" Hungary. The novel was very stop and go; there were times of overwhelming info-dumping, then a lull in action, then the last few chapters were racing to the finish line. Not only that, but there was a lot going on for this novel. I understood that it was an introduction to a series, but there wasn't enough time to explore all of the conflicts in Blood Rose Rebellion. There was the power struggle with the Circle, government revolutions, and finally, the unfair treatment of the Romani people. There was too much and some of it was pushed to the side and made it easy to forget about.
Characters: If I were asked to describe the character's in one word, it would be "meh". Anna, while interesting in the beginning, lost her intriguing air as she was repeatedly told that she was the "only hope" for whichever group she happened to run into. Other than that, all of the characters seemed to run from hot to cold easily. When in Hungary, she met her cousin, Noemi, who didn't want anything to do with her English cousin. A few chapters later, they became bosom buddies. The same happened with our love interest, the mysterious Gabor. He made it known to Anna that she wasn't wanted by his people and mocked her English style. Then he was oddly enchanted with her and served as her protector. Their relationship wasn't defined enough to make me care.
I was also disappointed by the lack of exploration of the relationship between the Hungarians and Romani. There was vague mention to Romani traditions and beliefs, but I didn't walk away feeling as though I understand Gabor or anyone else in his family.
Worldbuilding: I would be lying if I didn't say I was impressed by the uniqueness of Blood Rose Rebellion. The idea that magic existed and that Eves managed to tie the Binding and the Circle to historical events (American Revolution, assassinations, etc.) was pretty cool. Despite this, I didn't feel that I could imagine Hungary from Eves description nor did I feel involved in the political climate of Hungary and Austria.
Short N Sweet: Blood Rose Rebellion was a great try, but misses in creating character connections and balancing the story line.