Author: Rosalyn Eves
Publication Date: March 28, 2017
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
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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 first caught my eye because of its striking cover (way back when it was blue). I'll admit it - I'm a sucker for a gorgeous cover. Then I heard that it was fantasy and set in Hungary and I knew I had to read it! Blood Rose Rebellion is a book with a ton of promise, but sadly it just didn't live up to my expectations.
Anna is the main character of this story and is, of course, special because of her lack of magic. She is "barren" in the magical world, the Luminate, or is she? After breaking her sister's super important debutante spell, she's shipped off to Hungary where she'll be less of a threat to society. Once there... things go downhill. Unfortunately, Anna is a really dumb character. Anna runs around in places she's been told are dangerous to prove she can. She makes stupid decisions despite the possibility that she could ruin things for everyone in the process. She puts her loved ones at risk for no good reason. Repeatedly.
Gábor is Anna's love interest who she falls for despite the fact that he's a "Gypsy" (Her internal dialogue, not mine.) Even after getting to know Gábor, Anna chastises herself for falling for him based on his ethnicity. She also continually uses the word "Gypsy" despite Gábor telling her the correct term is Romani. She is told that it's offensive and tells others that it it's offensive, but continues to say it - just not to his face. All of that being said, I actually did like Gábor. He was one of the only tolerable characters, although their romance leaves a lot to be desired.
Even if the main characters and romance are both crap, sometimes a great villain can carry a story. But that didn't happen here. The "Circle" was frankly a ridiculous threat and so were the individuals that Anna encountered up until I finally gave up.
To add insult to injury, Blood Rose Rebellion is incredibly slow. While things do happen and there is some magic, it all happened at a snail's pace and made this book difficult to get through. Despite the issues I had, I would probably have finished it if the pacing had been just a bit quicker. There was actually some really cool imagery and a unique magical world! Which brings me to my last point.
The one thing I really enjoyed about this book was the world building. Even if it wasn't a completely accurate representation of real-world Hungary, it was incredibly fun to read about and easy to picture. I also thought the off-limits magical place Anna visits was amazing and I would have liked to have explored more of it! Sadly, I just couldn't do it.
Blood Rose Rebellion should have been an amazing book! A setting we don't see very often combined with an interesting magical system would usually be right up my alley! I made it 65% of the way through this book before finally accepting it just wasn't for me and calling it quits.