Wednesday, March 22, 2017

ARC Review: Blood Rose Rebellion by Rosalyn Eves

Series:     Blood Rose Rebellion #1
Pub. Date:March 28, 2017
Publisher:Knopf
Length:416 pages
Source:Publisher

Blood Rose Rebellion is the first installment of a series by the same name, by debut author Rosalyn Eves. This historical fantasy story features a society with magical abilities intermixed with the activities leading up to the Hungarian Revolution of 1848. The population is separated and defined by their magical abilities, with the upper echelon Luminate hoarding the magical reserves for themselves and shunning those with lesser or no magic. The Romani also play a big part in this story - separated from both the magical and mundane by prejudicial views toward the gypsy way of life.

Our heroine, Anna Anders, is a young girl barren of magic and longing to fit in with her family and peers. While she has no ability to wield, she has a strange effect on magic and tends to break spells cast in her vicinity. As an embarrassment to her family and anathema to the Luminate, Anna's longing is clear and she is desperately seeking to fit in somewhere. This has sent her into the arms of an unsuitable boy, exiled from London to Hungary, and an outsider seeking to breach the Romani culture. While Anna seemed to think overmuch about kissing boys, I didn't find her character to be annoyingly immature. As a young girl coming of age during a tumultuous time in history, she seemed to hold her own fairly well. I was able to take her indecisiveness in stride given her age and the potential ramifications of her proposed actions in the revolution.

This story is more historical fantasy than romance, so while there was a slight love interest, it was not the focus of the story. Gabor is a Romani male who had a foot in two worlds, so to speak. He wanted to be educated and employed, which made him strange to his own clan. So he didn't fit in with the gypsies, but was not accepted by society either. As a romantic interest, I think there is potential, but there was not much time spent on relationship development in this first installment. There were a number of secondary characters of differing abilities and backgrounds that enriched the tale. I liked Anna's grandmother, and some of the revolutionary characters. Anna spent the most time with her cousins, Noemi and Matyas, though their roles and purposes in the story were somewhat ambiguous. 

I found all the revolutionary activities most interesting in this story. I understand this aspect of the story was based loosely on real events with historical figures intermixed with fictional characters. I enjoyed the plot conflict, intrigue and the sense of the impending doom when it came to a society on the cusp of an explosion. I found the Romani culture interesting, and the way they were treated by the general public was disheartening. This story was a good example of the inequality caused by prejudice and social stratification.  (I am not familiar with Hungarian history or the language, so I can't speak to the accuracy of any of these events, prejudices or language used.)

When it came to the fantastical aspects, I wish they would have been explained more. I believe some of the supernatural beasts/creatures encountered within the Binding were based on Slavic mythology and fairytale. However, as someone unfamiliar with these stories, I would have liked to see them expounded upon. I thought the aspect of the Binding, a magical spell which bound creatures into another realm and provided a base of magic for the Luminate, was intriguing. As a fantasy fan, I thought this story would have been much more interesting if more of the fantastical was allowed to seep into the revolution. I was very curious about the realm in which the magical creatures were bound... and about the creatures in general. Who is this Hunger fellow... why is he called that and on what fairytale is this character based? I hope future books will incorporate and develop more of the fantasy aspects... as this is the bread and butter for the genre and what most of us are looking for when we pick up a fantasy read.

This is a meandering story... there is no rush to action for most of the book. I think that the build up was so detailed that the ending seemed rushed and too easily resolved. However, the ending paved the way for future books and left the reader curious about what would happen in the future. I believe I will continue reading as I am curious about where the characters proceed from here.

I voluntarily reviewed an advanced copy of this book that I received from the publisher.