*takes a deep breath*

Okay. Sometimes being the optimist is painful, and I have to accept that as a fact of life, or I’m not going to be very happy. So, here we go… wins for RoseBlood, by A.G. Howard. For those of you who don’t know the drill: my pixie-in-law and I post a one-two review of books on our blogs occasionally. For a detailed deconstruction of everything wrong with this book, take a look at her post. This is my attempt at telling you of RoseBlood’s virtues.

Let me begin by saying that I adore Phantom of the Opera. I love the book (a phenomenal work of Gothic horror – I mean, flaming eyes in skulls? Sign me up!), I love the musical (*glances at sheet music on my violin stand*), and I love the characters. I mean, for heaven’s sake, I even pilfered some of the story for the backstory of my very first attempt at writing serious fiction. I LOVE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA.

So when my Pixie-in-Law suggested we get the Owl Crate for RoseBlood and read me the book description, I said, “Sign. Me. Up. Sister.” That wasn’t the right call.

*takes a long drink of wine*

Anyhow, we got the book. Crate. Thing. The crate was lovely. The book was lovely. I had a hard time. I have no doubt my Pixie will endeavor to display every fault and issue with the book in depth (starting with a few of the more choice notes I made on the subject, I hope), but I am here for the wins. And sometimes it just isn’t as easy as others. Here we go.

  1. The book is beautiful. Seriously. Lovely cover. As a digital artist myself, I know and love good art. Well done, cover-person. The chapter headings are gorgeous. The typography is lovely. Every inch of this book is beautiful, and you want to shower its blood-red text in kisses of adoration at its sheer beautifulness. Okay? Pretty. The thing is pretty.
  2. … I’m having a hard time with this, but I’m going to count it as a win since I love the original. A. G. Howard makes a POINT (actually several points) of referencing the original Gaston Leroux novel. I know and love the novel. Did I mention flaming skulls? She uses the mythos and research around the original tale of the Phantom within the world-building of her story, and I have to give her credit where credit is due for that. Nearly every time she referenced the original story, my heart gave a little pitter-pat with hopes that the novel would improve. It didn’t. Hmm. This point is starting to sound like a sin. MOVING ON.
  3. Aesthetic. If you’re into cozy sweaters, bleeding roses, victorian-architecture, boarding schools, and graffiti on Stradivarius violins, then this book is ABSOLUTELY /THE/ BOOK FOR YOU AND I WISH YOU JOY. There are beautiful moments in abandoned chapels. Melancholy mysteries in forgotten graveyards. Vampires in nightclubs. Prima donnas flying down sweeping staircases while sopranos faint in the strong arms of supporting male characters.
  4. French. There’s French – untranslated in several instances. I suppose it’s probably A.G. Howard’s attempt at making you feel like you’re actually in France, but it doesn’t succeed. I enjoyed the few untranslated phrases because I’ve been learning the language for the last two years, so it was only a personal win.
  5. Plot… No. No wins here. It left me dismayed, confused, and hurling the book across the room with professional fury.
  6. Character… *hangs head* sorry, folks. The only win is a fabulously symmetrical and handsome love interest, and I thought he was boring. But, at least in my head, he was a pretty picture. In a Phantom story. *taps microphone* Is this thing on? Handsome Phantom. What. The. Ever. Loving…? Does A.G. Howard know what an archetype is? If so, she ignored the point of POTO. Innocent damsel, damaged black romance, hero type. None of whom exist in this story. Our damsel may wear gauzy pale dresses on occasion, but she lacks so much innocence she is a parody of herself and the idea of Christine. Our phantom-ish character is half-Raoul from POTO and half-bad life choices all while being painfully handsome.
  7. World. Okay. This one actually made me angry. No wins here, just a cardinal sin. AND I MEAN A CARDINAL SIN OF WORLD BUILDING, A. G. HOWARD. She smashed together witchcraft, vampirism, Hindu philosophy, and Romani culture in an abandoned Christian chapel and added no rules. There is a magic system. There are sentient animals. There are no explanations. Good luck, dear reader; if you can make sense of it, contact me and let me know.

Three wins and a bit of ranting were really all I could manage in that list. Sorry-not-sorry.

I saw “NY TIMES BESTSELLING AUTHOR” on the cover and was lulled briefly into thinking this book might be good. It’s not. It’s a purple vomit of nearly incoherent prose into a Twilight-esque teenage drama with no weight, no subtlety, and no substance.

It left me feeling drained, exhausted, and slightly hungover (but that might have been the amount of alcohol needed to get through the obscene number of unnecessary words in each paragraph). I cannot recommend, with all my optimism, that any poor soul read this book. C’est mauvais, mes amis. C’est tres mouvais.

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