What I Liked:
I have to start by saying that boarding school settings are one of my favorite types of settings, especially when they are centuries old buildings. In this book, RoseBlood Academy is a restructured opera house that supposedly was tied to Gaston Leroux's Phantom, and it is here where the main character of this book, Rune Germain, starts to attend. This school is astonishing and mysterious, with secret passages, two-way mirrors, a graveyard, and gardens. I loved how this school more than a setting, becomes a character itself since every nook and cranny has an important part in this novel. This aspect is extremely well executed by the author.
Another thing that I enjoyed is that RoseBlood is told in dual points of view. Rune and Thorn are interesting characters and I liked how they offered different thoughts and insights that if this book had been told from only one view, they would not have been fully appreciated. From Rune's point of view everything is a mystery as she battles with her affliction that whenever she hears a tune from a female opera singer, she is consumed by the need to sing along. From Thorn's, we go deep into the Phantom's life (for he is Thorn's father figure in this story) and navigate through a few theories that have followed the Phantom's legacy.
However, if I had to pick a favorite character, it wouldn't be Rune, Thorn, or even the Phantom. It would be Diable, the cat. Diable is an extremely smart and loyal cat, with a knack of opening locks and sneaking around without anyone noticing. Hard not to love and it's always fun when authors have animal characters in their books with a bigger role than just being pets.
What Left Me Wanting More:
I love that this book takes a new spin to the Phantom of the Opera and considers theories of how things may have truly happened (if the Phantom truly existed) and that the author adds a few paranormal elements concerning Rune's singing affliction, but I was left a bit unsatisfied with the world-building and how a few things are pushed aside to make way for something else. I would have loved more depth.
And while there is romance between Rune & Thorn and their relationship is crucial to the plot, I also had a bit of trouble liking them as a couple. Their feelings developed too fast in my opinion, and some of their actions were not exactly what I would call romantic. Individually I liked them, just not together.
RoseBlood by A.G. Howard is an interesting new spin to Gaston Leroux's Phantom of the Opera with a fantastic gothic setting that stands out on its own. The romance wasn't what I was hoping for and it needed a bit more of world buiding, but overall, it's an enjoyable read.