I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.RoseBlood by A.G. Howard
Published by Harry N. Abrams on January 10th 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Paranormal, Retellings
In this modern day spin on Leroux’s gothic tale of unrequited love turned to madness, seventeen-year-old Rune Germain has a mysterious affliction linked to her operatic talent, and a horrifying mistake she’s trying to hide. Hoping creative direction will help her, Rune’s mother sends her to a French arts conservatory for her senior year, located in an opera house rumored to have ties to The Phantom of the Opera.
At RoseBlood, Rune secretly befriends the masked Thorn—an elusive violinist who not only guides her musical transformation through dreams that seem more real than reality itself, but somehow knows who she is behind her own masks. As the two discover an otherworldly connection and a soul-deep romance blossoms, Thorn’s dark agenda comes to light and he’s forced to make a deadly choice: lead Rune to her destruction, or face the wrath of the phantom who has haunted the opera house for a century, and is the only father he’s ever known.
This was an incredibly creative and weird twist on the Phantom of the Opera. I went back and forth between absolutely loving it and a feeling of “what new weirdness is this…?” If you want to enjoy this book, you’re going to have be prepared to accept a lot of strangeness all at once (not at the beginning of the book or in the initial world-building). If you can manage that, I think you’ll love this book.
RoseBlood begins with Rune Germain (I loved the names in this book) being dragged to a music school in France by her mother after an incident back home in the U.S. Sounds great, right? It would be if Rune wasn’t possessed by her voice and music, entirely losing control over her ability to suppress the song. The beginning of this book developed Rune’s backstory, the main characters, and the world very well. Plus I loved the Phantom of the Opera references within the story itself.
Most of the story at the school takes place outside of the classrooms as we meet the students who become Rune’s friends (and enemies). The juxtaposition of the high school setting with the Phantom storyline was a little strange but it ended up working in the end. Except for Sunny, none of Rune’s friends were particularly memorable characters. However, many of the other characters who appear in relation to the Phantom’s part of the story are interesting and complex. As Rune, and the reader, find out more about the history of certain characters, there are some darker themes explored (some of them were slightly disturbing but very interesting).
I don’t want to spoil any major plot points but I loved how Rune’s gift fit into the story. The best parts (and the parts that kept me going through some of the strangeness) were the ones that focused on Rune, her struggle with the music, and Thorn. Their connection was truly magical and I loved the role it played in the book (plus there wasn’t a love triangle).
If you enjoyed Splintered, you’ll probably love this one. If you’re looking for a Phantom of the Opera retelling, just be prepared for a fantasy aspect that may surprise you. This was a truly unique story and, while I’m still not sure how I feel about it, I’m glad that I read this book.