A.G. Howard: Roseblood

rosebloodhowardTitle: Roseblood
Author: A.G. Howard
Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal, 21st Century Young Adult Fiction
Source: Purchased
Publisher: Amulet Books
Release Date: January 10, 2017
Format: Hardcover; 978-1-41971-909-7; $18.99
Pages: 432
Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Summary: After a series of catastrophes at home in the US rooted in her inability to control the unique way in which hearing music compels her to sing–in public, without restraint–Rune is sent to live and study at a music conservatory for opera in France in the hopes of “curing” what her family chooses to call stage fright. However, this school is more than what Rune expects–it’s the opera house that inspired the setting for Gaston Leroux’s classic novel The Phantom of the Opera. As Rune tries to navigate a new school and new friends, she soon finds herself caught up in a century-old story she believed to be fiction as she begins to notice a boy lurking behind mirrors and in the shadows. As her connection to this boy becomes clearer, and as she discovers things about herself and her family that may answer long-unanswered mysteries about her voice, Rune will have to decide where she belongs and what she is willing to give up to find answers and herself.

This post contains spoilers; if you have not read Roseblood yet, proceed at your own peril.

Review: Roseblood is my first read from A.G. Howard, though her Splintered series has been on my TBR for quite some time. I was immediately drawn to Roseblood for its ties to Gaston Leroux’s Phantom of the Opera novel, and I am definitely glad I started with this volume. It was quiet enjoyable and fun, and I particularly like the following:

  1. Faithful Retelling/Plot: Howard definitely did her homework with Leroux’s original novel. I was thrilled to see the original Phantom return, and I enjoyed the references to the original opera house, Christine Daye, and Howard included some “journals” in the back from Christine that explores her story further. The events of Leroux’s original are effortlessly woven into Roseblood, and the elements included are faithful to the original drama.
  2. Style: Howard’s style is vivid, fluid, and easy to read. I also loved that the text color was entirely red, which was a nice aesthetic element that enhanced my immersion in the feel of the book–letters that flow across the page like blood.
  3. World-building: the world in Roseblood is much like the original, just set in modern Paris. I believed the world and characters, and everything came across as living, three-dimensional, and I had no trouble “living” this story as I read. The descriptions are colorful and lyrical too.
  4. Characters: Rune and Thorn are quite well-developed, and they are easy to love. Rune is a complex character which always had me wanting to read on. Her past is tragic and mirrors the original Christine, and she’s well-rounded and believable in personality. Thorn is darker but no less interesting, and I found him compelling and mysterious.
  5. Experience: The overall reading experience was enjoyable, fun, and I’d definitely reread this, as well as read more if Howard decided to make this a series, and I will now definitely be reading her Splintered series.

What I would like to change would be the vampire-incubus-succubus element used as the explanation for Rune’s and Thorn’s powers outside of the two being reincarnations of Christine Daye. It’s also used to support Howard’s supposition for the Phantom living as long as he does (and not dying at the end of Leroux’s original). I thought this was a bit cheesy, and I hoped for something more. I also wasn’t thrilled with their growing romance–it happens too fast–Rune becomes infatuated with a boy who essentially stalks her and begins this with dark intentions. Somehow it becomes okay, and Rune forgives everything. It’s just an odd, odd romance, and I’m never thrilled with this relationship trope–it sends the wrong message to young girls.

Aside from this, I do absolutely recommend reading Roseblood, particularly if you’re a fan of The Phantom of the Opera and classics retellings in general. It was one of my most anticipated reads, and it is now one of my favorite reads of the year–even in spite of its flaws.

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