Friday, February 10, 2017

Book Review: Roseblood by A.G. Howard

For a while now, I've wanted to sign up for a monthly subscription box. I always thought it would be fun to receive a surprise in the mail. So I decided to sign up for a montly book box from Owl Crate. (Because what other type of subscription box would I choose?) The January box's theme was Classic Remix, and it contained a lot of awesome stuff. (You can see my unboxing photo over on Instagram, as well as other bookish photos.) The book, however, was Roseblood by A.G. Howard, a Phantom of the Opera inspired story.

I had absolutely no idea this book was coming out. I don't know how it slipped my radar because it's Phantom of the Opera themed! I mean, really, Phantom is my favorite musical, my favorite "movie monster," and the only black and white film I've seen with a live organist. Anyways, I was super excited to receive it, and I wasted no time diving into the story. It's dark and spooky and all sorts of intriguing. It's not my favorite book ever, but I enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would. Plus, that cover is so gorgeous.

Synopsis
Rune Germain has a musical affliction: whenever she uses her gorgeous opera voice, she gets sick or, worse, passes out. Her mother sends her to a French arts school called Roseblood that's located in a refurbished opera house that is rumored to be connected to the Phantom of the Opera legend. Once there, she encounters the Phantom, a violinist who soothes her affliction, and the dark secrets of the opera house and her own cursed gift. 

My Thoughts
When I first picked up this book, I was a little wary. I've been disappointed in a lot of classic retellings lately. They either don't live up to my (high) expectations or they contort the original story so much I can hardly identify the aspects that made it become a classic. But I wanted to give this a story a chance. It's not often that a Phantom of the Opera retelling is published, so I was excited for a change of pace.

The story itself is intriguing. A musical curse, rumors of a phantom, a spooky opera house... all of these elements were excellent for telling this tale. The setting also helped secure the atmosphere for the story, reminiscent of the darker themes of Phantom. The spooky opera house along with the graveyard were perfect to reflect the enthralling horror classic.

As for the characters, Roseblood has a wide cast. I didn't expect to like some of Rune's new friends so much, but I did. I thought they were going to be pretty one-dimensional side characters, but they proved their worth time and time again. The teachers at the school were more developed than I was expecting as well, and I liked a lot of the twists that came with them. The Phantom was definitely wretched, yet I still felt for him after learning the truth of his story (poor baby). As for Thorn, oh gosh! How do I explain this? I adored Thorn. He had just the perfect blend of tragic backstory and personal vendetta and heart-wrenching soul, I could barely handle myself. I love that we got to see his story just as much as Rune's. It was a pleasant (and heart-ripping) surprise.

Rune, however, wasn't my favorite character. I didn't feel that connected with her. I wanted more to her story (and her romance with Thorn). I felt a lot of the beginning went super fast without explanation. (It was like they expected readers to have read the book blurb, which doesn't always happen.) I wish that the parts where she learns to control her voice with Thorn had been given more care and time to flourish. It went so fast, I had a hard time sensing their relationship's growth. And I think the modern setting threw me off as I read. I didn't hate Rune, but I didn't particularly care for her either; I pretty much only cared about Thorn and the Phantom. (Who's actually surprised though?)

The only other issue I had was with the pacing of the book. Like I said, I felt the beginning was rushed and there was lot I had to catch up on as I read. Also, I wished some elements and setting details had been described earlier on to make the events flow better.

Overall though, this story was spooky and intriguing. It had at the right amount of Phantom touches and also new ideas and twists that were phenomenal and set it apart from the same-old retellings. I thoroughly enjoyed Roseblood, and I would definitely recommend this to fans of Phantom of the Opera, whether they like the original book, the musical, or the 1920s black and white film.


If you've read Roseblood, let me know what you thought. Or tell me what your favorite classic retelling is!

I bought Roseblood through the Owl Crate subscription box program and chose to review the book of my own free will. All opinions are my own. (And yes, I did listen to the Phantom of the Opera soundtrack while I wrote this review!)

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