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.
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.
I think this is a new trend coming but when it switched POVs it switched from first and third person. I actually like this trend as it's so much easier for me to follow, I feel the book flows better. So I loved that touch. Rune was first POV and Etalon was third. So I know who I was reading as soon as it started.
I just loved how easy that was to catch one. Some books that switch POVs leave me confused as who I'm reading about. Anyone else ever get that?
The plot was sweet, romance, and at times creepy. I love this retelling. I have been in love with The Phantom of the Opera for years. I remember watching the movie years ago and then reading the book and soaking up everything I could find. So this hits home with me and makes me love it more. The world felt so real, the author did a great job at bringing this whole tell to life.
Etalon is so swoon worthy. I can see why Rune fell for him.
If you've not read this book yet than you need to. It's great! Just get past the first part and it's such a worthy read. I wish it just wasn't a standalone, I want more. Though it all does wrap up nicely and no loose ends. It's been such a long time since I read a great standalone. So go out and get this book!
******Know before you buy! This has been labeled problematic. Though honestly, I'm sure every book is going to get this label as everything offends someone. This is being labeled as such for the use of the term gipsy. Just letting you guys know.******
Rune was a very interesting character and I found myself really liking her. She was thrown into a new situation that she had little choice to adapt to. I loved the growth she showed through the book and that she kept surprising me. I liked the dynamics she had with the new friends she made and the slow romance. The supporting cast were so great that I would have read a book double in length just to have more of them.
The writing was very easy to read and made it very easy to get sucked into the plot. It made for a book I wanted to finish, to not put down. It was fun and enjoyable but there was also a creepiness to the plot, which I also enjoyed.
It hit all the spots I wanted as a Phantom of the Opera retelling and as a story on its own. I will definitely be buying a finished copy for my own collection.