RoseBlood by A.G. Howard
I simply adore The Phantom of the Opera, so when I saw that RoseBlood by A.G. Howard was a kind of retelling of that story, I was immediately drawn to the book!
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Author: A.G. Howard
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Retelling
Published: January 10th, 2017 by Harry N. Abrams
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 arts 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 itself, but somehow knows who she is behind her own masks. As the two discover an otherworldly 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 a century, and is the only father he’s ever known.
About: A.G. Howard
International and NYT best-selling author, Anita Grace Howard, lives in the Texas panhandle. She is most at home weaving the melancholy and macabre into settings and scenes, twisting the expected into the unexpected. She’s inspired by all things flawed, utilizing the complex loveliness of human conditions and raw emotions to give her characters life, then turning their world upside down so the reader’s blood will race.
Married and mother of two teens (as well as surrogate mom to two Guinea pigs and one Labrador retriever), Anita divides her days between spending time with her family and plodding along or plotting on her next book.
When she’s not writing, Anita enjoys rollerblading, biking, snow skiing, gardening, and family vacations that at any given time might include an impromptu side trip to an 18th century graveyard or a condemned schoolhouse for photo ops.
The plot of RoseBlood was interesting, and mysterious at first. The main character, Rune (what’s with that name?), is going to an opera house in France. She has this crazy singing power that basically made her a musical savant at the age of four, but readers don’t understand why this is the case until the end of the book.
Plus, this is essentially a retelling/sequel of sorts of The Phantom of the Opera. In full disclosure, I’ve never read the book, though I have obsessed over the movie with Gerard Butler loads.
But when we learn the real plot, the schemes of Erik, the phantom, I was a little bit thrown off. It doesn’t really become clear until the end what his plans are, and to be honest it was a little bit too much for me.
One thing that I really take issue with is this concept the novel comes up with: “twin flames”, or essentially “soulmates”. I absolutely hate this trope in books. Not because it’s cliche or overdone, but because it sends the wrong message. There is not just one person in the world for anyone.
PLUS there was this weird trope added into the book in order to explain why Erik the phantom was still alive over a hundred years later. Like I think that’s the only reason this weird paranormal aspect of the book was invented. And it was so shallow and confusing and honestly laughable that it really took away from the story in my opinion.
ALSOOO there was a weird change in the phantom/Christine Daae backstory. It was incredibly unbelievable to me.
The protagonist Rune was a very typical YA heroine. Nothing about her personality stands out specifically, except perhaps her constant guilt over dark events in her past. She has a “special ability”, and basically everything in her life that she thought was free will isn’t and everything has been orchestrated to make her think that she’s making choices but it’s really all just a plot to use her.
Thorn (lol again, yes really) is Erik the phantom’s adopted son. It was a weird concept to think about the phantom taking in a son/apprentice of sorts?? But, thinking purely objectively about the phantom’s motives and true goal throughout the story, it makes sense at the end. Some of the chapters were written from his perspective, which gave more interesting insight into Erik the phantom, but definitely ruined the mystery aspects of everything Rune was going through. It was basically a magician going “this is how I do all my tricks” even before he’s doing them.
Erik the phantom has been created as a much more humane person in this retelling. He does not appear to have the tantrum that is so prevalent in the original. He loves animals. Can’t stand to see them hurt, and also doesn’t enjoy killing people anymore. Plus there’s that weird supernatural thing I mentioned before?????
Slow. There was so much description and “telling” rather than showing. Plus, there was relatively little action throughout the book, so there wasn’t any change in pace there. And, there was a lot of irrelevant information about Rune’s teachers and classes that had nothing to do with the story at all.
Finally, in what was arguably the kick-off for the climax of the novel at the end, Rune literally goes through a play-by-play of what she plans to do. No, seriously. She spends about two pages explaining to the reader her plan. I honestly can’t fathom any reason an author would do this, especially at the climax.
Not only is that a) essentially spoiling your climax for the reader, b) making everything that follows a repeat of what the reader already knows, and c) totally kills the build-up and suspense of the climax – it’s just plain bad writing.
I might be able to forgive it if Rune thought her plan was totally going to work and then it doesn’t, which would then be a plot twist and moment of excitement and suspense for the reader. But her plan essentially works, and only at the last moment when everything was left to chance did it not turn out in her favor.
I really wanted to like this book. I love The Phantom of the Opera, and I think it’s such a beautiful and tragic story. This story was anything but that. It was cliche, boring, and had lots of annoying tropes.
I give RoseBlood 1.5/5 stars.
Let’s talk about it
Have you read RoseBlood? Are you familiar with The Phantom of the Opera? I would love to know what you think about these stories! Were you as disappointed with RoseBlood as I was? Please leave your opinions in the comments below.