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.
When it comes to covers, A. G. Howard sure has lucked out. The Splintered series were gorgeous and RoseBlood is just the same. Being a huge fan of her wonderland retelling, and after reading that blurb, I was so excited to start this one!
Let me start off by saying, Howard sure can write a love interest. Thorn, tragic backstory and all, was a gorgeous hulk of guy who somehow had charm and allure despite living in the sewers. He and Rune are swept up pretty fast in an intense attraction that sees them making life-threatening choices. So obviously, it definitely wasn’t a healthy relationship. In keeping with the obsessive, deadly love of the original, Thorn lurks about in Rune’s dreams, and plays music to her from behind a vent in her bedroom at RoseBlood. And that’s cool–not every relationship written has to be sunshine and roses–as long as the audience can acknowledge that creepy lust is not something to aspire towards IRL.
Rune’s friends at RoseBlood were also another highlight. There were some great moments where their personalities really jumped from the page and I would have loved to see more of them (especially as I had to look up their names again–Quan, Jax, and Sunny FYI). Audrey was also an intriguing characters but there wasn’t enough done with her, and I really would have loved to see RoseBlood through her eyes.
The ultimate highlight of the book was Erik. He had motivation and mystery and was the reason I kept reading. His end goal was also something I didn’t see coming–I love when a book can surprise me.
Because of how established Erik was though, the ending felt very out of character, which is perhaps my biggest disappointment from this book.
RoseBlood had some beautiful scenes–Rune and Thorn’s dance, the bird avery(?) under the lake, Jippetto’s backstory, Erik’s club–and if you loved Splintered you’ll probably enjoy this like I did.
There were just a few things that bugged me.
This book is chock-full of cliches. RoseBlood has no cell service, internet–nothing. Umm…it’s a school. How are they off the grid? Sure makes things convenient for a certain homicidal lunatic.
The Twin Flames thing–clear code for Soul Mates, and I prefer my characters to get together based off something more than ‘meant to be’.
Rune is reluctant to go to a super-cool school to try and ‘fix’ the thing that she hates. How is she not determined to kick butt and take names?
Then, there were things that weren’t explained enough. Erik’s ending. Rune busting in on the auditions for the show’s lead singer and sings over the top of her before ‘fainting’–why didn’t she hide out in a bathroom and let the song out? What exactly was the reasoning behind Erik’s plan? How did he ever think that was possibly a thing that could happen? Why were Rune’s friends so keen to be BFFs when they wanted Audrey to snag the lead and Rune was clearly better than her?
And while I loved the writing for the most part, there were areas where it became convoluted to the point I had to reread to wrap my head around what was intended.
Those things are me being picky after the fact though. While reading, they were insignificant enough that while I noticed them, they didn’t detract from the story as I was reading.
I’m glad I gave RoseBlood a chance to sweep me away in the story.
Heather is rep’d by Carrie Howland of Empire Literary