Monday, December 5, 2016

Review: RoseBlood by A.G. Howard


RoseBlood by A.G. Howard
Publisher: Amulet Books
Publication Date: January 10, 2017
Rating: 4 stars
Source: ARC sent by the publisher

Summary (from Goodreads):

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.

What I Liked:

I'll admit - I don't know too much about The Phantom of the Opera. I think I've seen a movie version at some point in elementary school, but I don't remember that well. I know the basics of the story, but it has never really intrigued me. Still, knowing the basics of the story made me curious about this book, because The Phantom of the Opera has an interesting romance. I didn't like Howard's debut trilogy (well, the final book, anyway), but I loved this standalone.

Rune has an immense operatic talent, but she feels like she's cursed - she's always left drained and exhausted after singing. What's more, she did something awful, and she's pretty sure it's related to her singing ability and the exhaustion she experiences afterwards. Her mother and aunt pulls strings and get her into RoseBlood, a French arts conservatory, located in an opera house. Rune notices strange things at the academy; her uniforms go missing, she hears strange noises in the vents, and she keeps seeing a masked man dressed in Victorian-era clothes, but no one else seems to notice him. Everyone insists that the Phantom isn't real... but what if he is? He wants something from Rune, and Rune will have to understand her past in order to control her future.

This is a Gothic contemporary novel, set in modern-day France, but obviously with fantastical elements. There is a paranormal side to this book that I won't reveal, but it has everything to do with Rune's extraordinary singing ability, and her crippling exhaustion after singing. I loved the world-building of this story; I don't think I've read a story with a setting like this. I happen to adore boarding-school-esque settings, and this one did not disappoint. Plus, it's set in France! Close to Paris (though I'm not really sure where exactly). That was cool!

I liked Rune almost from the start. She didn't want to move all the way to France and go to RoseBlood, and she doesn't even want to sing. Her singing bursts forth and then leaves her exhausted, and there is nothing she can do about it. My heart ached for her, because it was almost as if her singing was controlling her. Rune is kind and almost innocent, though she is riddled with guilt over the terrible thing that she did. Throughout the book, we also see that she is compassionate and even selfless; she lets others think badly of her when really, she is trying to help them.

This book is told from Rune's first-person POV, but also Thorn's third-person POV. While I would have loved to read Thorn's POV in first-person, I certainly appreciated having both POVs to read from. Both voices were strong and distinct, and both were extremely necessary in telling the story. This isn't just Rune's story - it's Thorn's too.

Thorn is a mysterious occupant of RoseBlood. I don't want to say too much about him, because he is not who you think. Just as my heart ached for Rune, my heart broke for Thorn. His past is heartbreaking and cruel, and even his present life isn't joyful. He is stuck, and when Rune arrives, it's like something shifts. Thorn's story is so important, both past and present. 

There are many secondary characters in this book, many of whom I absolutely adored. Sunny, Rune's mentor and peer, was hilarious. Jax, Quan, and Audrey were good friends to Rune. Kat and Roxie were cliche "mean girls", but they had their roles. I liked that Rune developed a better relationship with her Aunt Charlotte, towards the end of the book. 

But mostly, I loved the relationship between Thorn and Rune. Their romance is seductive and thrilling and dreamy. I don't even know how to describe it. Rune has been seeing a boy with copper-colored eyes in her dreams, serenading her with a violin. It turns out that that is Thorn (and there is a reason, don't worry). They have been linked in dreams for quite some time, and meeting in person is... quietly explosive. I love their initial connection, and then the connection they form as they see more of each other, at RoseBlood. The romance is gently formed, but entrancingly so. 

AND, there is no love triangle in this book! I was afraid that there would be, because there is potential for a love triangle, given the original story. Also, let's not forget the atrocity that was Howard's debut trilogy, in terms of a love triangle (atrocity to me, that is). But there was NO love triangle in this book. None!

I love how everything comes together, all the pieces and parts that Howard drops as the story progresses. Everything from Rune's father to her crazy grandmother, from Thorn's sad history to his and Rune's connection, makes sense as the end of the book gets close. It was interesting to put everything together and finally understand. I wouldn't say there was a huge mystery to solve or anything like that, but the author sets up the story so that you'll be wondering about this or that, until things are gradually revealed towards the climax of the book. Very well done. 

I adored the ending of the book (though I wouldn't mind an epilogue). This ends perfectly, and exactly as a standalone should. I was so satisfied with the ending, I wanted to reread the book immediately upon finishing. I feel like many books these days (especially series enders) have ended so disappointingly. I'm glad this book did not.

What I Did Not Like:

This book easily could have done with more swoony scenes from Thorn and Rune. Swoony... or steamy. Don't get me wrong, the romance is plenty swoony (in a subtle way), and seductive, but there many physical, ah, interactions between them (please read between the lines and read "physical" as "kissing"). For a romance that was so seductive, there needed to be more kissing. And in any case, more is always good.

Other than that, meh. I don't have any complaints.

Would I Recommend It:

I definitely recommend this book! It's worth the buzz, that's for sure. I was indecisive about this one, because I didn't have a great experience with Howard's last book (Ensnared), but this book really worked for me. If you like the Phantom of the Opera (this is a retelling), or Gothic fantasy/paranormal/contemporary, then give this one a chance. Plus, there is lots of singing, and even some dancing. And again, no love triangle!

Rating:

4.5 stars -> rounded down to 4 stars. I will definitely be rereading this one, and recommending it to friends. It lives up to the hype (well, it's been hyped at least for me, in terms of the people I interact with and follow). I am curious to see what the author will come up with next!


Was this review helpful? Please let me know in the comments section!

44 comments:

  1. So glad you loved this! I am a HUGE Phantom phan, and I am dying to read this retelling :) It looks so amazing and seductive and tantalizing and AH I need it. Great review!

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    1. YAY! That's great to hear! I think you will love this book. =) Thank you!

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  2. Glad you liked it, this is the first review I have seen and I can't wait to read it as I have it for review as well. :) I wasn't a fan of her first series either but since this was a Phantom of the Opera retelling I had to try it. :)

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    1. Ooo, I'm glad mine was the first! This book is definitely worth trying, even if you didn't like her debut trilogy, like you said. I hope you enjoy it, Stormi!

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  3. OMG I can't wait to start this one!! I would say I'm with you on Thorn's pov. I certainly prefer 1st person. Thank you for the warning! I'll probably prefer more swoony moments as well but so far, I think I'll enjoy this one a lot!!

    Genesis @ Latte Nights Reviews

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    1. I am happy to hear that! Hopefully you'll like it - please let me know!

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  4. I added this one to my TBR list as soon as I first saw it on Goodreads. I can't wait to pick this one up. I'm a big fan of Phantom of the Opera so I think I will like this one a lot. Great review!

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    1. Yaaasss! Julie, I am sure that you will love this book. Thank you!

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  5. DUDDEEE, that cover creeps me out for sure! Teehee! I'm SUPER intrigued to see what all the fuss is about but I'm mind of wary, because LACK OF KISSING. That is all.

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    1. It's an add cover, but I personally like it. More kissing would have been really nice. ;D

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  6. I haven't seen The Phantom of the Opera in years I am glad you don't have to know to much about this one to enjoy it! It looks like a great book! I love the swoon romance and no love triangle. Also, I love that the ending was perfect! Great review!

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    1. It's been a while for me too! At least, I *think* I've seen the movie. I can't even remember. o_o This book was an excellent retelling!

      Thank you!

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  7. I'm so glad you enjoyed it!!! I'm a huge fan of POTO and I'm dying to read this one. Love the fact that there is no love triangle, it was my least favorite thing in POTO.

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    1. Ooo, I'm sure this one won't disappoint you, Rachel. The lack of love triangle is one of the best things!

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  8. I really like Phantom of the Opera (I saw it on Broadway once!) so I'm really intrigued. I never read Jowards trilogy because of the love triangle. I'm so glad to hear this doesn't have one! I'll definitely be adding this to my TBR. Great review. :)

    Genni @ Ready, Set, Read!

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    1. Oh that is SO cool! If you read this book, I hope you like it, Genni. Very love-triangle-free. ;)

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  9. I'm not a fan of that cover and was not really interested in her other series but this sounds like something I might like.

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    1. Cool! If you read this book, I hope you love it, Melissa. =)

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  10. I'm glad you enjoyed it, despite not enough kissing. I love the musical so I definitely want to read this one!!

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    1. Thank you! I hope you enjoy the book, Erin!

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  11. OOh nice! The Phantom of the Opera was one that always intrigued me despite knowing nearly nothing about it. I think I tried to watch that remake some years back, but got distracted or the person I was watching with it was even more bored so we switched to something else. Lol.

    Glad to hear that this one was better than Ensnared. I really did enjoy that trilogy, but yeah, that love triangle did not sit well with me at all. Definitely looking forward to this one! Didn't realize it was a standalone either, but those are always a nice break from the series! (I am soo behind on sooo many! EEP! LOL!) Great review!

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    1. LOL! I personally think musicals are really boring so if it was the musical you were watching, I totally understand. :D

      I hated Ensnared! I think up until Ensnared, I was okay with the series (like, I was stomaching the love triangle because the story besides the triangle was really good). This one is nothing like Ensnared.

      Standalones are a magical thing, in my opinion!

      Thank you, Jessica!

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  12. I finished this one today and also loved it! Rune was a wonderful protagonist, fighting to be herself and to be her best self! And Thorne was so swoony!!

    I have not read The Phantom of the Opera original, but this book made me really want to read it!

    Also, I'm so sorry that I've been such an awful bloggy friend, I haven't been commenting much (or at all) as of late... *hugs*

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    1. I agree! I was surprised and happy by how much I really liked her.

      Don't feel bad, lady! Life first, as always!

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  13. This sounds really good! I have read anything by this author before but this book really does appeal to me. I am intrigued by the Phantom of the Opera aspect. Plus - no love triangle!

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    1. It's a good place to start! I do not recommend her debut trilogy, but definitely this one. :D

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  14. I love Phantom of the Opera and I'm probably that one person who hasn't read A.G Howard yet, so I really should check this out, haha. This definitely sounds awesome, so happy to see you enjoyed it a ton and was worth the buzz!

    Great review, Alyssa!

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    1. You're definitely not! I do not recommend her debut trilogy AT ALL, but this one is worth reading.

      Thank you, Cyn!

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  15. I'm so glad you enjoyed this one! I spotted this on someone's Waiting on Wednesday, and I've been curiou ever since. Great review. :)

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    1. Yaaasss! It's a hot title for January! Thank you! <3

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  16. I'm so eager to read this now - I had no idea it was a Phantom of the Opera retelling (the cover makes much more sense now lol). I'm glad you enjoyed it, will be picking this one up asap.

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    1. It is, loosely but well-written. There is no love triangle though. ;) I hope you enjoy the book!

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  17. I'm sooo happy you liked this one haha. I adored it, and thought the author connected it to the original Phantom of the Opera story perfectly. And yesss, the romance was sooo dreamy. I thought that for characters who mainly interacted through thoughts (I guess? Dreams?), it was veryyy sweet and heady. Agreed with you though - plus swoony scenes would have been an awesome addition!

    - Aila @ One Way Or An Author

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    1. Dreams, over the years! Because of the connection and violin. That was AMAZING, and definitely cut down on any potential insta-love. More kissing though, that would have been nice. ;D

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  18. I admit it: I've been totally sleeping on A.G. Howard. For some reason her series inspired by Alice in Wonderland just never appealed to me, and I actually thought that Roseblood was another book in that series since the cover art is so similar.

    I'm happy to hear that it isn't though, since that means I can dive into it right away! I love Phantom (I'm a classical music geek) and any book that's worth rereading is definitely one I want to be checking out!

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    1. Don't read her debut trilogy! It's not *amazing* and there is an awful love triangle. This book, on the other hand, is really unique and so swoony.

      If you read it, I hope you enjoy it, Danya!

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  19. Ohhh great review Alyssa! I also don't now too much about the phantom of the opera as well, but I am really intrigued about this book. I absolutely love A.G. Howards debut books except for the love triangle that was in her debut, and I am a person who loves and don't mind love triangles but not in Miss Howards debut novels. But after reading your review I can not wait to get my hands on this book when it comes out. I just know I am going to really love it. Thank you for your awesome post Alyssa!

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    1. LOL! Yeah, the love triangle in her debut trilogy was something else. Bizarre and not at all satisfying (not that love triangles are satisfying... they're stupid).

      I hope you love this book, Katiria!

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  20. Aargh! Now I'm sad I didn't request this one when I had the chance. Although I'm currently (re)booked up for the rest of the year I am sure I will enjoy this one after reading your review! You've made it sound like one I cannot afford to miss!

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    1. Awww! I think it might still be on NetGalley? I'm not sure. If you read this one, I hope you like it, Di!

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  21. Oh man, I got a random copy of this book and it sounds good, but her last series ended soooo badly so I'm wary. Glad to see you liked this.

    Nereyda│ Nick & Nereyda’s Infinite Booklist

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    1. It was excellent! I hated her debut trilogy as well, don't worry. This one is NOTHING like that series.

      Thanks, Nereyda!

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  22. Lovely review Alyssa :D I am glad that you enjoyed this book so much. <3 But, hah, yeah.. I did not like it much at all :D I just couldn't help but dislike it :( Aw. But I'm glad you weren't disappointed. <3 And ohh, I also did not know much about The Phantom of the Opera either, lol :)

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    1. Thank you! I remember seeing your disappointment, and I definitely understand why you were disappointed. And that's okay!

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