Title: Blood Rose Rebellion by Rosalyn Eves
Published: March 28th 2017 by Knopf Books for Young Readers
Page Count: 416
Where’d I Get It: Physical Arc via Publisher
Rating: 2 stars
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.
A copy of this showed up at my house from the publisher, quite the surprise. I was pretty excited. Unfortunately, the book itself didn’t quite live up to that excitement.
It started off really slow. Anna Arden is of the elite class, and the rest of her family are magic users, or Luminate. For some reason, Anna herself doesn’t seem to have the magic, and has been labeled Barren by the council. The book starts off with her being head over hills for this dude, flirting with him unchaperoned in a room of the house, kissing him with fervor in a dark garden during a party. That’s also not the only boy in the book she kisses. Her cousin plants one on her mouth and flusters her, plus her impending romance with Gábor ensures that he kisses her more than once.
The plot actually starts when Anna destroys her sister’s debut into society by literally warping and squashing her coming out spell, the spell that would show her ability and get her education, job and marriage prospects. Good job there, Anna. Therefore, in order to wait for this scandal to blow over, Anna is sent to Hungary with her grandma.
Most of the characters in this book have alarmingly complicated names, and some are actual historical figures. We’re thrown into a Hungary in the midst of a rebellion, where the people want to rule themselves, and not be ruled by their magical overlords. The Circle holds all the magic, and only piecemeals it out to the rich and powerful, even then limiting how much they can use. Those born poor but adept at magic are not ever given the chance to wield it.
One bit of spooky prose, and Anna finds herself hanging out with some Romani. She makes friends with one of the Romani boys, Gábor, and observes that they know how to do magic without the need of the Circle’s ceremony to awaken magic. She asks him to teach her, and he originally says no, eventually giving in and teaching her magic. Anna can’t even master the Romani magic, unable to grasp even the basics of it. She does, however, break any spells cast near her, setting part of the Romani camp on fire, to which they respond by banishing Gábor and packing up and leaving.
From the beginning of the book, the rebellion has wanted Anna to destroy the Binding that keeps magic for the rich, return magic to the masses. Gábor doesn’t want her to, but literally everyone else in the book is 100% on board with this plan, unless they’re rich and entitled. So, for the rest of the book, Anna spends most of the time going into the dimension of the binding and deciding if she’s going to possibly break the spell or not. The thing is, the binding is full of unearthly creatures, creatures that are full of malice, and some that are full of grace and gifts, and Anna has to decide if she wants to open that Pandora’s box, as well as the one that would allow people untrained in magic to use it, potentially killing themselves without proper guidance as the magic eats them from the inside.
The rebellion continues unabated as Anna makes her choice, and also learns that she’s literally the most super special of special people out there, which was hinted at in the beginning of the book but not confirmed until the book was almost over. So far, it’s not too Mary Sue-ish, but also seems easy to get around now that she knows how to do so?
Honestly, knowing nothing of any Hungarian rebellions, I have nothing to say on that aspect. I do know that the book itself was just so-so for me. It moved along so slow and even when some exciting things happened, it had that problem where the prose was so flowery, that it didn’t convey much urgency and so even the exciting parts of the book were set on that same plodding word path as the entire rest of the book. Whether she was sitting talking to her grandma or stabbing someone, the tone was the same, so I never sensed any urgency or really connected with anything that was happening.