Goodreads: Blood Rose Rebellion
Series: Blood Rose Rebellion #1
Source: City Book Review
Published: 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.
Blood Rose Rebellion is generally an engaging book. It’s well-written with strong characters and an engaging plot. Unfortunately, it reminds me of a lot of other YA fantasy I’ve been reading, and it doesn’t stand out from the crowd. The marketing team for the book is comparing it to Red Queen, presumably because of the class differences that the book explores; magic is in the bloodlines of the ruling elite. However, for me the story most brought to mind A Shadow Bright and Burning with its setting in an alternate 1800s Europe and focus on a female protagonist with unusual powers whose destiny may lead her to dispense magic to people to whom the ruling class declares it does not belong. While both novels are good, reading them side by side does make them blend together, and I wish Blood Rose Rebellion had felt more original to me.
That issue aside, I very much liked the characters in the book, particularly protagonist Anna Arden. She’s passionate and idealistic but sometimes too impetuous for her own good. Her personality makes her a great main character to follow, as she’s always getting into one adventure or another. I also enjoyed her grandmother, dignified but with a hidden strength, and her cousin who also has a hidden heart of gold.
On the hand, I do wish the love interest had been more developed. I know what I’m supposed to think about him–he’s smart, hardworking, and loyal to his family. However, I felt as though this was often told to me rather than shown, and I didn’t feel a connection between him and Anna. For me, the romance is not the high point of the story.
The world building is solid, and I felt like I could picture the magic system that Eves has created. The historical aspects might have been better integrated, however, as I mostly got the general points that Hungary wants to be free from the Habsburgs and that Europe is in a general state of rebellion. Anna mentions Queen Victoria of England in passing. Eves does include an author’s note with some more historical details at the end of the book, but I would have liked this information to be included in the actual story. I also could have done with fewer info dumps.
I think fans of YA fantasy will enjoy Blood Rose Rebellion, but I didn’t really read it at the right time to fall in love with it.