I’ve unfortunately been on a string of lackluster YA books. Well, maybe not a string,
maybe a rope? It’s been so long. I mean, I was at the let’s take a break from this genre point. So Blood Rose Rebellion was a nice change. It was the first book in a while that made me stop and say “huh, that’s different.”
The story centers on Anna Arden, a teen who is uniquely unmagical in a magical world. But wait, you say, there must be something unique about her. There is! Anna has a strange ability to break spells.
So, I admit, it doesn’t sound that different so far, but give it a chance.
Things go wrong. There’s family drama. Throw in some boy drama. And Anna winds up exiled to Hungary. I think this is where the story started to really ramp up. Instead of just being about the girl who wants to fit in you see some really interesting political drama loosely based on real figures and events in the Hungarian revolution. Plus, there’s an interesting take on magic.
The characters are also really engaging. Gabor, a Romani, i.e. the gypsy, i.e. the boy from the wrong side of the tracks, is not an insta-love interest, but you see the development of a real relationship. There’s interesting relatives, political figures and adversaries. And I really like that Anna is not immediately friends with her cousin Karolina, but the relationship must develop as they learn more about each other. Plus, bonus points for developing this friendship without it being about the boys and crushes.
I think author Rosalyn Eves excels at slowly (but not too slowly) and realistically developing the relationships and offering different points of view. You understand why characters have different goals for the revolution – both political and magical – and you see the characters learn from their mistakes and accept the mistakes others make. I think that’s really important to creating a realistic story even if we know the magic isn’t real.
I’m not sure what will happen in book 2, but I think this was a rich story of history, magic and everyone’s desire to find the place they fit in.