Author: Rosalyn Eves
Genre: historical fiction
Series: Blood Rose Rebellion #1
Published: expected March 28 2017
Source: publishers via NetGalley
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.
The first book in a new series that deftly mixes an alternate history of the real world with intrinsic elements of the supernatural/fantastic, Blood Rose Rebellion is a layered and detailed introduction to this world and this debut author. With creative story elements, strongly defined characters and intriguing takes on developing the magic/worldbuilding, Rosalyn Eve's long-anticipated novel makes quite an impression. This was a good start, for both the book and for the series planned. Imaginative, rich with detail, and rife with tension, Eves uses her story and cast to reflect on themes like classism, racism and even activism without being anachronistic to her imagined scenario.
Anna is a decent main character despite her somewhat cliched role at the outset of the novel; she's at least got some distinct personality traits and there's definite potential in her arc. I have to admire her personal agency in seeking out answers and the headstrong characteristics she demonstrates in doing so. She grows and matures in the course of this book already -- her trip to Hungary is pivotal for both personal and plot reasons. The author sets up the various plots and subplots at play in Blood Rose Rebellion deftly around Anna herself; there's political angles to consider, romances to contemplate, and not to mention family stressors weighing on the teenager. Blood Rose Rebellion is well-planned, and is also intentionally slow-moving at certain sections of the storyline. The ending is perhaps a bit overextended but also leaves plenty of room for further continuation of the storyline in the following book(s).
Immersive and creative, this supernatural historical fiction is ably blended with the fantastic and also home to an innovative magic system. At times turns of the plot can feel a bit facile but the overwhelming impression is a solid and entertaining one. The slowly building atmosphere of anger, resentment and revolt is enveloping and created additional tension alongside the more magical concerns facing Anna, her cousins and Gabor. There's a lot going on in these pages but the author uses all four hundred of her pages. Featuring strong historical and supernatural elements, Blood Rose Rebellion is a close readalike for fans of These Vicious Masks, These Ruthless Deeds.