BLOOD ROSE REBELLION brings a magical twist to history!
Believe it or not, there are plenty of weird, wild, fascinating moments in history. But that doesn’t mean that history couldn’t use a little extra panache. Take The Hungarian Revolution of 1848, for example. You know what that sucker could use? MAGIC!
That’s exactly what we’re getting in Rosalyn Eves’ Blood Rose Rebellion, a historical fantasy retrofitting the Hungarian Revolution into a world where people are not only separated by class but by magical ability. The wealthy upper class known as Luminate have the ability to control magic in its various forms and therefore control the world. That is, all of them except Anna Arden, the daughter of a prestigious Luminate family who can’t create her own magic.
However, Anna has a strange ability all her own: She can break others’ spells, usually without even trying. After a disastrous incident at her sister’s debutante ball, Anna finds herself under scrutiny of British Luminate leaders and flees to Hungary with her grandmother. Given a fresh start away from her life of luxury and scrutiny, Anna discovers a new group of friends and foes that teach her why her strange abilities are so valuable and help her discover the dark conspiracy behind Luminate power.
As is true throughout history and the world, the distribution of wealth and power is not accidental. The powerful mold society so it works in their favor, but with a magical twist that adds intrigue to the story: Magic is regulated to the elite through a source called the Binding. It’s dark, mysterious, and dangerous… but it’s a spell, one that some people believe should be broken. As tumultuous times threaten her new home, could Anna be the key to giving magic to all? And if she did, would she truly be helping or hurting the world as a whole?
I was sucked in by the creativity of the world, the carefully described landscapes, the visuals and the feel of the magic, and the transfixing otherworld of the Binding. Unfortunately, I needed to go on that journey with the characters in order to really feel it, and they were a lot harder to get on board with.
Frankly, Anna Arden wasn’t a compelling main character. She came across as woefully indecisive and often a victim of circumstance despite having unique, potentially devastating powers. She never really owns her formidable strength, instead acting as a pawn that only makes a decision on her own when heavily influenced and faced with the most dire of circumstances. Also, it seems all the leading men in the story are attracted to her, including her cousin (which wasn’t an infeasible relationship back in the day, but it’s still awkward.) Even one young man who seems unsure at first quickly falls in line. That character is Anna’s love interest, Gabor, who comes from a Romani family. I wanted to be intrigued with him and his background, but I feel like the author was too busy trying to make him serene and mysterious to give him an original personality with which readers could fall in love.
The two characters I connected with the most were William Skala and Noemi. He’s the stubborn revolutionary idealist and Luminate outsider who plays a major role in the revolution, using his powers and his charisma to take a stand, even if he’s a bit misguided in ways. Noemi is his foil in many ways– She’s a spitfire who approaches the idea of revolution with a little more skepticism. As a healer, she just wants to keep everyone alive, but that means occasionally makes some people angry in the meantime. I was also quite interested in Karolina, a wealthy Luminate using her social circles to influence that nationalist movement but unfortunately, her appearance is a swift means to an end.
I felt like I can explain the pertinent events of Blood Rose Rebellion pretty quickly, but the novel is almost 400 pages long. Between a slow period just after the start and indecisiveness that artificially inflates the page count, this book could have been shorter or put more focus on character relationships. The story had some wondrous moments, including a blockbuster ending that busts the world wide open, leaving you insatiably curious. But we wish the journey leading up to that had more intensity from Anna and her companions rather than saving it all for the end.
This series had a bumpy start but it certainly still has potential for fans of books like Red Queen or The Young Elites. If those interest you, take a peek at this one!
RATING: 3.5 OUT OF 5 STARS
Blood Rose Rebellion is out today. You can order it via Amazon.