Author: A. G. Howard
Published: January 10th, 2017 by Harry N. Abrams
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, Retellings, Romance
Rune Germaine is a slave to her own beautiful voice. When she hears opera music, the melody ensnares her until she is compelled to sing aloud. This secret winds up causing trouble in her hometown; therefore she is shipped off to a musical academy in France. But this school is nothing close to ordinary: it is the old theater bearing the legend of the Phantom of the Opera.
It does not take long for Rune to sense trouble at the academy. Amidst her classes and social life with new friends, she meets the mysterious Phantom – or so she is led to believe. What she doesn’t know is there is a scheme in place that will lead to her undoing. The only one who can truly help her is the one playing the Phantom.
After reading a string of wonderful books in a row, I stumbled upon Roseblood. Having loved everything about the original Phantom of the Opera, you can understand my enthusiasm to proceed with this novel. Yet it pains me to say, it was a disappointment.
Please note, I am all for constructive criticism. That being said, I shall do my best to address issues with the purpose of aiding.
The first red flag came up within the first twenty pages. The story begins with Rune and her mother in a limo, traveling the streets of France to this famously new academy. There was little dialogue, and, as a reader, I felt overwhelmed by paragraph after paragraph highlighting her recent and not-so-recent past. There was absolutely no movement in the plot line, and I grew bored right off the bat.
This issue I, too, have faced while writing. Being so caught up in trying to prepare the reader for the story, it did not cross my mind, should anyone read it they would soon be pushing ZZZ’s.
And this was not the only time Howard hit pause on the story line to insert numerous paragraphs containing background information; it happened a good deal throughout the story. In all honesty, I would’ve liked to read this information in dialogue rather than in the narrative. It certainly would have led to more character building.
Which leads me to the second issue: The characters were not well-rounded. If I finish a book feeling as though I could write a letter to the characters, the writer did his/her job well. I did not, however, experience this with Roseblood. Again, more dialogue would’ve assisted with this problem.
Cliché’s are killers. I am guilty of them sometimes, I will admit. Yet the clichés in Howard’s Roseblood were, for lack of a better word, laughable. I could not take the novel seriously. It’s imaginable she was trying to relive sentiments from the original story, but it was poorly done. Disappearing in a sudden cloud of smoke is as cliché as one can get.
Finally, I felt no spark in the romance. Romance requires mutual history and learning, even if there isn’t a great deal of these due to a rushed timeline (in that case, it needs to be done tactfully). Solely playing a violin and singing together each night will not cut it. Dialogue, dialogue, dialogue! It’s a great way to study a character’s actions and reactions, thus giving us something to cling to.
I greatly dislike giving bad ratings, but I can only give Roseblood one star. Several times I was tempted to put it down in the pursuit of something more interesting, but I stuck it out. After all, I would want someone to give my writing a chance and tell me where I could make adjustments. It is my hope that Howard’s other novels did not include the same issues. I am just sorry I read this one first, leaving an unpleasant taste in my mouth regarding her writing.