Thanks to NetGalley and Amulet Books for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: January 10th, 2016
Synopsis: 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 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 herself, but somehow knows who she is behind her own masks. As the two discovervan other-worldly 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 more than a century, and is the only father he’s ever known.
I’ve been a huge fan of A.G. Howard’s since I read her Splintered series a couple of years ago. Where that was an imaginative retelling of Alice In Wonderland, RoseBlood is a modern day spin on Phantom Of the Opera. As I’m also a fervent “phan” of all things Phantom, I’ve been impatiently awaiting this since I first heard about it last year. I’m thrilled to say it’s a nearly perfect example of how to craft a retelling of a classic story by keeping beloved elements from the original, while building upon that and creating a whole new story. Let me first get the two negatives out of the way that prevented this from attaining complete perfection. The beginning, where Rune and her mother are about to arrive at the conservatory dragged on much too long. I understand that A.G. Howard was setting things up for the main story, but the limo scene really could have used some editing. The other problem I had was with the description of Rune’s voice. One of Howard’s many strengths is her attention to every exquisite detail which makes the reader feel as though they’re part of the story. For example: when describing Thorn’s singing as a child, his voice is described as being so angelic that it forced listeners to face their darkest sins. Rune is supposed to have a voice equally, if not even more beautiful, but we’re told this, not shown it. If the rest of the story hadn’t been so descriptive, this may not have stood out as much as it did. But the rest of the story is so masterfully told I found myself purposely slowing down my reading because I didn’t want it to end. Now that I think upon it, this isn’t so much a retelling of Phantom, as it’s a continuation of the classic. Howard includes most of the original story, adding tantalizing paranormal tweaks here and there. The secondary characters are interesting and some provide a few moments of levity, but let’s face it, the heart and soul of the story is the gothic romance between Rune and the mysterious masked Thorn. Rune is an interesting character especially with her intriguing familial background which is somehow tied to Erik (the Phantom) and the original Christine. But it’s Thorn who eventually takes over, with his tragic backstory and his anguish of being caught between the father figure who quite literally saved him from a fate worse than death, and the young ingenue who has stolen his heart. The world-building is, well, simply indescribable. Each setting, from the boarding school atmosphere of the Paris conservatory, to the hidden watery world underneath its floors, to a rave that is colorful and exciting but more dangerous than any other, is so gorgeously detailed you will feel as though you are there, experiencing everything the characters are. Except for the aforementioned beginning, the plot is absolutely mesmerizing and you will find yourself hanging onto every single word. I really am trying not to include any spoilers, so I’m just going to say this is a tale like no other and you have to experience it for yourself. RoseBlood is a hypnotic story of love, hate, revenge, and redemption. For fans of Howard’s Splintered series, this new book will just further confirm in your minds what an incredible writer she is. And if you haven’t read her before, please, give yourself a gift and pick this up in January.