I won a copy of this book from Owlcrate’s booth at BookCon. I hadn’t heard of it before, but I read Howard’s Alice in Wonderland re-telling series and really enjoyed it, so I was very much looking forward to her take on The Phantom of the Opera.
This YA novel from New York Times bestselling author A. G. Howard marks the beginning of a new era for fans of the Splintered series. Rune Germain moves to a boarding school outside of Paris, only to discover that at this opera-house-turned-music-conservatory, phantoms really do exist. RoseBlood is a Phantom of the Opera–inspired retelling in which Rune’s biggest talent—her voice—is also her biggest curse. Fans of Daughter of Smoke and Bone and the Splintered series will find themselves captivated by this pulse-pounding spin on a classic tale.
Rune, whose voice has been compared to that of an angel, has a mysterious affliction linked to her talent that leaves her sick and drained at the end of every performance. Convinced creative direction will cure her, her mother ships her off to a French boarding school for the arts, rumored to have a haunted past.
Shortly after arriving at RoseBlood conservatory, Rune starts to believe something otherworldly is indeed afoot. The mystery boy she’s seen frequenting the graveyard beside the opera house doesn’t have any classes at the school, and vanishes almost as quickly as he appears. When Rune begins to develop a secret friendship with the elusive Thorn, who dresses in clothing straight out of the 19th century, she realizes that in his presence she feels cured. Thorn may be falling for Rune, but the phantom haunting RoseBlood wants her for a very specific and dangerous purpose. As their love continues to grow, Thorn is faced with an impossible choice: lead Rune to her destruction, or save her and face the wrath of the phantom, the only father he’s ever known.
A. G. Howard brings the romantic storytelling that Splintered fans adore to France—and an entirely new world filled with lavish romance and intrigue—in a retelling inspired by a story that has captivated generations. Fans of both the Phantom of the Opera musical and novel, as well as YA retellings such as Marissa Meyer’s Cinder, will devour RoseBlood.
So, this book was weird – but I mean that in a good way! Being weird (in my world) is a great thing – this book was unique, otherworldly, and captivating in its strangeness. It certainly wasn’t boring. That being said, though, this review is going to be really hard to write, because I refuse to write any spoilers.
I went into this story knowing very little about the original Phantom of the Operatale. Basically, most of what I know about The Phantom of the Opera comes from watching the Disney Channel Original Movie Phantom of the Megaplax (don’t judge me). From what I can tell, though, all of the basics of the original story are here, with many additions and twists that belong purely to RoseBlood.
RoseBlood starts out with Rune, our protagonist, basically knowing nothing. She knows that music speaks to her in a way that forces her to release it from her body, often leaving her weakened and physically ill after completing an aria. But she doesn’t know any of the whys, and neither do we until she discovers them. The discovery of what Rune is and where her strange connection with music comes from is pretty integral to the plot, so I won’t ruin it for anyone by discussing it in this review.
What I can say is that for all its strangeness, this book will pull you in and keep you reading until the last page. The story opens with Rune traveling to her new boarding school with her mother. She’s being sent to this music school in hopes that she will learn to control her “stage fright” as her mother calls it, but Rune has many reservations about attending RoseBlood. At the top of her list are the facts that Rune’s estranged Aunt is a beneficiary of the school and is paying Rune’s tuition, and the other is that RoseBlood’s opera house is said to be the same opera house from The Phantom of the Opera legend.
Roughly half of this story is told from Rune’s point of view, and half is told from Thorn’s. Thorn lives in the shadows of RoseBlood, and he knows what Rune is. In fact, he’s been waiting for her for quite some time. But who is Thorn? Could he be the legendary Phantom? You’ll have to read RoseBlood yourself to find out 😉
All in all, I enjoyed this story. There were parts that confused me, and I had to go back and reread a few pages at some points to clarify the story. The romance aspects were sweet without overwhelming the story, and the “thriller” aspects were heart-pounding without being horrifying. The paranormal aspects were the strangest parts, and some of the supernatural mechanics were pretty confusing at first. Howard puts a really interesting twist on the Phantom’s origins that I think is very unique to this re-telling. I wish I could say more, but I am committed to letting you experience the whole story yourself without any spoilers. If you liked Howard’s previous books, you should definitely pick this one up. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes fantasy, supernatural, and paranormal YA romance tales.