Published: March 28, 2017
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Pages: 416 (Hardcover)
My Rating: 3.5/5.0
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.
Blood Rose Rebellion is one of the more highly anticipated debuts for Spring 2017. In many respects, it holds characteristics that are common in YA fantasy, however, the setting and folklore make it stand out from the crowd. The story begins in London but several chapters in the setting changes to that of Hungary, which is a country that I’ve not seen pop up in any of the fantasy I’ve read. The folklore is similar to that found in stories like The Bear and the Nightingale, which was set in Russia- yet again something that hasn’t yet been overdone in fantasy literature.
Anna Arden is a member of a prominent Luminate family but lacks the magic that so defines every member of that social class. She can however destroy spells, which is no easy task and should be impossible for anyone that can’t seem to access the reservoir of magic employed by the Luminate. After a bit of a scandal, Anna is packed off to mainland Europe to accompany her aging grandmother back to her homeland of Hungary. In Hungary, she’s surprised to find a place of her own, though not necessarily a place her family would approve of. As in many YA books, there’s political dissent, a young heroine, and enough tragedy to make the story seem legitimate rather than another gilded fairy tale, and a difficult decision that will be pivotal for the entire social system.
Am I the only one that is getting a bit fed up with the constant repetition of themes across YA fantasy? I give Rosalyn Eves due credit for making her story somewhat unique among a herd of sameness, but changing the setting and giving the story an Eastern European influence can’t hide the fact that’s it’s really just more of the same. I did appreciate the fact that Anna didn’t suffer from the plague of insta-love and her romance was much more slow burning than I usually see. Anna and her acquaintances choices also had very real, serious repercussions that didn’t affect only themselves, but the entire society. People were killed, thrown into prison, and suffered other consequences for the choices made by themselves and others.
Blood Rose Rebellion certainly had its pros and cons, but was an enjoyable book and a strong debut. I suppose I’m feeling jaded with the YA genre and as a result may be over-critical about certain aspects, but all genres seem to go through fazes. Right now it’s the political dissent/unique culture faze, which is cool but everything begins to feel overused so quickly. I loved that this book had me googling pictures, terms, and historical events. I think it’s great that by reading fantasy I can also learn a little about a new topic! Overall, I would say that yes, Blood Rose Rebellion is definitely worth a read.