RoseBlood- A.G. Howard
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.
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My Review - 5 Stars
Something you should know about me: I love The Phantom Of The Opera. LOVE IT. The first time I encountered the story was an animated version on TV when I was probably 10 or 11. I was completely swept away.
Several years later my friends and I bought tickets to see it downtown Chicago as our post-prom activity. That is when I really fell in love with it. A few years later I got to see it on Broadway again and it's place in my heart grew ever more secure. The music sweeps over me like nothing else. I can get teary eyed just thinking about All I Ask Of You. Gah.
When I saw the cover for RoseBlood, I wondered if there was a connection to the Phantom. And when I saw it was, I immediately begged for an ARC. I needed to read this. Did it ever blow me away!
RoseBlood is part YA, part gothic novel, and 100% unputdownable. I was spellbound from the start, wondering how much influence the original story would have. This is almost a spin off because while the Phantom does indeed have plans for Rune, this takes place after the original story.
When Rune arrives at her new French boarding school, she is grieving the death of her father a couple years prior and still untangling complicated family dynamics...like her grandma trying to drown her. Grandma's in jail not to far from Rune's new school and while Rune welcomes the opportunity to get to know her aunt (her father's sister), she has no interest in giving her grandmother another chance. At the same time, she's trying to figure out her unusual singing ability. She becomes ill if she doesn't sing but is also left physically drained when she does. She also worries her voice could harm others. And she's also caught up in the mystery of the school itself, as well as the disappearing gardener Thorn.
I loved Rune's friends at the school and the part each ultimately plays. I also loved her burgeoning friendship with Thorn and getting to see things from his point of view as well. The way Rune and Thorn bond over music is beautiful, as is the way Thorn's virtuoso violin playing helps Rune better understand her gift.
There's some solid character growth and I was seriously agonized at some points, wondering how it would all work out, particularly Thorn's battle over what his heart wanted vs. what his foster father wanted.
I don't want to spoil the plot so I'll leave it here. Even if you know the Phantom of the Opera well, you'll be surprised by the story's twists and turns. It's obvious Howard loves her source material and it plays off in such wonderful ways. I loved how much history was included- from Leroux, Paris itself, and Rune's family tree.
One of the best parts of this book was the way the author brought music to life. The descriptions were incredible, not only in how Rune and Thorn felt about their gifts but the actual musical pieces themselves. It made me want to track down more than a few operas so I can aurally experience the ones Howard included. It also made me want to read Gaston Leroux’s novel and see how it differs from the Broadway show.
I haven't read anything else by A.G. Howard before but I plan on diving into her backlist. Based on how much I loved this one, I'm sure to enjoy the rest of her work.
Disclosure: I was provided an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Affiliate links included in this post.