ARC Review: RoseBlood by A.G. Howard


Thank you to Amulet Books and NetGalley for providing me with an eARC in exchange for an honest review. All quotes are from the ARC and subject to change. 

28818314Title: RoseBlood
Author: A.G. Howard
Publisher: Amulet Books
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Retelling, Romance
Format: eARC
Goodreads Synopsis:

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.


“Gaurd your throats and hide your eyes. He’s not dead, you fools. Legends never die.”


You know when a book is so good that you’re left speechless? When you can’t even form a coherent thought to write your review because of it? That is me right now because of RoseBlood. I absolutely adored this book. It was everything I could have hoped for from a Phantom of the Opera retelling. I had high expectations going into this because of the fact that I’m a huge fan of the original story. It was different than I expected but a good different. Instead of being a straightforward retelling it was more of a modern day continuation. Yes, a continuation, which means we do see the infamous Phantom (i.e. Erik) from Gaston Leroux’s original tale make quite the appearance. I won’t even begin to explain how that’s possible or why because it would give away a major part of the story. However, it’s incredibly unique and introduces something that I knew of but have never encountered in a fantasy novel before. Despite the inclusion of an iconic character who does play a key role in the book, RoseBlood is very much centered on Rune and Thorn’s story and how their lives are connected not only to each other’s but to Erik’s past as well.

In RoseBlood, A.G. Howard weaves together the tale of Rune who has been sent away to a French music school by her mother in the hopes that it will cure the “stage fright” she believes that Rune has. In truth, Rune has a problem that her mother doesn’t believe in – certain pieces of music seem to possess her to the point of her uncontrollably breaking out in song after which she is always left very sick. On their way to her new school this nearly happens and you can tell straight away why Rune would dread going to a school where she’ll be surrounded by opera music. There’s another catch, the building in which her school is located is rumored to be where the Phantom story first originated. Rune has taken a slight interest in Gaston Leroux’s The Phantom of the Opera and the fact that the opera house in his haunting tale resembles her new school makes her a little paranoid. Not to mention the fact that once they pull up to her new school Rune sees a familiar figure cloaked in a cape near the school’s rose bushes. He seemingly disappears, leaving dead roses in his wake. The figure, who Rune assumes is the Phantom, is actually Thorn, who lives with the Phantom and considers him a father. Rune and Thorn, who have never met, both find each other oddly familiar. Why is that? Why does Rune’s talent make her sick? What does the Phantom have to do with all of this? You’ll have to read to find out.

“This place isn’t just an opera house, it’s an opera: unrequited love, jealous rivals, eccentric personalities, stalkers, sabotage, and vandalism. And last but not least: mortals pitted against monsters.”

Rune and Thorn were both such brilliant characters who developed so beautifully throughout the story. I was blown away by the development that occurred character wise because standalones tend to lack in the character development department. That wasn’t the case here at all. Rune, in particular, is a character I feel is a rarity among female fantasy protagonist because of the fact that while she has a gift it isn’t one that she masters overnight. It takes her time and practice to gain control over it. And Thorn, I adored him. Despite everything he’s been through in his life he has somehow retained so much goodness and a very forgiving heart. I feel like I can’t go into too much detail about either of them because everything I want to say would give something important to the story away. However, they are both characters I won’t be forgetting anytime soon.

As for the romance, I was worried going into this that there would be a love triangle because of the fact that the original story has one. However, I had no reason to worry because A.G. Howard spun a unique and swoon-worthy romance without a love triangle. It was a slow build and I enjoyed every single second of it.

“All those nights we climbed the stars and rearranged the planets with our songs, we were complete and invincible when we stood together.”

Also, there were several secondary characters. Rune has a group of friends at her new school who all play small roles. I don’t feel like there was a lot of development with them but I attribute that to the fact that this story was definitely more plot driven while being centric on the main characters. Although, there was an interesting little character in the form of a cat named Diable. His abilities include unlocking doors with his claws and being cranky and I loved it.

Much like Phantom, RoseBlood is hauntingly beautiful and very atmospheric with just a smidge of darkness. I’m honestly in awe over A.G. Howard’s world building. From the gothic structure of the school to the Phantom’s lair to the secret places within the school grounds, everything was painted so vividly. I was completely swept away by the world she created and the atmospheric qualities in itself were so reminiscent of the original tale that all I wanted to do was listen to The Point Of No Return while reading.

“Fall flowers burst up from the graves of dead summer blooms, reluctant to shed their costumes of purples, oranges, golds, and blues, in spite of how garish they are against the withering landscape.”

Everything I loved about this book aside, I have to admit that it might not be for everyone. I have a feeling that RoseBlood is going to be a book that readers either really love or really don’t. The pacing was beyond slow and in a way that is a lot like the original tale, I feel. A little over half way through the book the pacing starts picking up though and doesn’t slow down. It’s getting to that point past all of the world building, backstory, revelations, plot twists, and overall initial introduction that is going to be tough for some readers. I thoroughly enjoyed most of it simply because I love the original story and was so immersed into A.G. Howard’s writing and characters that I wanted as much as I could get. However, some could struggle with the pacing.

Overall, RoseBlood was an insightful, unique, surprising, plot twist filled, and breathtaking retelling of an iconic classic. It was a book that I didn’t even know I needed and if anyone was going to retell one of my favorite stories I’m very glad it was A.G. Howard because she did it so wonderfully. This is the first book I’ve ever read by her but let me tell you I will officially be reading everything else she’s written and anything she writes in the future.

If you love The Phantom of the Opera as much as I do, then I highly recommend this book.

Have you read RoseBlood? Do you plan to once it’s released? Do you love The Phantom of the Opera? 





33 thoughts on “ARC Review: RoseBlood by A.G. Howard

  1. I am so glad to see your review, Melissa! When I first heard about RoseBlood, I wasn’t that interested. How could a Phantom retelling be interesting? Plus, honestly, I am not attracted to the over. Yet, your review really won me over. Fantasy elements and impressive wild building? Not merely a retelling, but a continuation of the story? Your review had hooked me. I look forward to reading his now!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great review Melissa, I am so so glad to see you enjoyed this book. I think I’ve seen one or two negative reviews which made me kind of worried about reading this one but your review has made me really excited for it again. I’m definitely interested in the fact that this is a continuations of the original Phantom of the Opera tale, and I’m already really intrigued by Rune’s ability as well. Your review has left me with so many questions I feel like I need a copy of this book right now just to find the answers to all of them!
    I’m really glad there’s no love triangle in this book as well, I know A.G. Howard is good at writing them. I actually enjoyed the one in her Splintered series, but I think I’m always going to prefer books without them.
    I’m not a massive fan of the original Phantom of the Opera tale but hopefully I’ll enjoy this one as much as you have! Great review! 😀 ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Beth!! 💕
      Yeah, I’ve seen a few negative reviews myself and I think it has so much to do with the pacing. Or so I’ve seen a few people who haven’t enjoy it say. It’s definitely a slower read but it was so worth it for me. I was constantly intrigued by what exactly was going on and trying to figure it out. And A.G. Howard’s writing is beautiful so that helped too. I’m glad my review left you with questions because I was worried I was giving away too much at times 😂.
      Same! I know it would have followed closer to the original, had it not been a continuation, if it had a love triangle but I’m so glad she decided not to do that. I don’t think I would have cared as much for the romance if she had.
      I really do hope you end up enjoying it as much as I did. 😊
      Also, I’m definitely going to have to read her Splintered series soon.

      Liked by 1 person

      • That’s all right! 😀 ❤
        Oh see I don't mind slower reads; as long as there's something to keep me going, be it the character development or the world building, I don't mind if the plot takes a little while to get started. I loved A.G. Howard's Splintered series and really enjoyed her character development and writing style so hopefully that will mean good things for when I pick up RoseBlood, and yeah your review has definitely left me with questions, so many questions. 🙂
        I'd be interested to see where this book goes knowing it's a sequel in a way rather than a retelling. I hope I enjoy it too Melissa, and I hope you enjoy her Splintered series as well! 😀

        Liked by 1 person

      • It depends for me, sometimes I’m good with slow pacing and sometimes I’m not. But yeah for the most part if something is keeping me interested then I keep reading no matter the pacing.
        It’s something I wasn’t expecting at all. I figured it would be a retelling with different characters so when it ended up being a modern day continuation it was a nice surprised.
        I hope so too and I can’t wait to see your thoughts on this one! 😊

        Liked by 1 person

      • For me as long as there’s something to keep me interested, be it the character development or the world building, I never mind slow pacing at the beginning. It’s when nothing happens throughout the whole book that I get bored.
        I love retellings don’t get me wrong, but sometimes I prefer books like this where it uses the original book and carries the story on from where it left off. Both types can be amazing if they’re well written. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • Same here. When nothing is happening in a book I end up putting it down for days and sometimes never picking it back up.
        I prefer retellings that do that too. I love a continuation or prequel. Especially in direct retellings. I also love loose retellings that have similar aspects but aren’t directly related to the original stories or myths. 😊

        Liked by 1 person

      • I normally manage to get through it, just because I find it hard to leave book unfinished for too long unless I’m in a slump, but I’m likely to pick up the next in the series at all.
        Basically any retellings. I think it’s hard to write a direct one, taking the story of the Phantom of the Opera for example, and writing along the lines of the same story with the same characters without it being too same-y.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Most of the time I’m good with leaving books unfinished. Only because if I can’t get into the book I want to move on 😂. There are several exceptions to that though. And review books. I always try to push through review books. Which is what’s happening with the one I’m reading at the moment.
        Yeah, that’s true. I only know of two that are directish and that’s this one and then Heartless, which I haven’t read. In both cases I would say that they have a lot that makes them stand out from the originals though. Especially this one as it’s the only one of the two I have read lol. 😊

        Liked by 1 person

      • I suppose that’s a good thing because then you’re not wasting your time on a book you’re not enjoying just for the safe of finishing it. Oh are you not enjoying the review book you’re on so far, what one is it?
        I’ve read Heartless and I thought it was quite good, not completely what I was hoping for but still a good book overall. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • Nope. I mean there have been moments where I liked it but it’s been more frustrating than anything. I’ve nearly DNFed it twice. It’s The Sky Between You and Me.
        That’s good to hear that you enjoyed it. 😊
        I have heard a few times that it didn’t completely live up to expectations.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Ohh, do you think it will be a book you eventually DNF then? I guess if you’ve nearly done that twice that’s got to be a sign of something right?
        Not completely but my expectations for this book were really high so I think it would have been hard to you know?

        Liked by 1 person

      • I surprisingly didn’t. I walked away from it for a few days and once I picked it back up I ended up getting through it and enjoyed the last 20% of the book.
        I get what you mean. I’ve had that happen for me with a few books.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Yes, the pacing is beyond slow and that’s why I couldn’t handle reading this book. I’m glad you enjoyed it though. I was worried this book will put you back into the reading slump because the book was a yawn for me. Excellent review nonetheless. You have a lot of patience to tolerate when more than half of the book is slow.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I am going to be reviewing the very soon thanks to Lilly at LairofBooksBlog! Very excited to see that you enjoyed it. I have come across some negative reviews so I was beginning to feel discouraged. You have restored my faith 🙂 Awesome review!

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s awesome! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. I’ve noticed some negative reviews too. I think it has a lot to do with how slow the pacing is. It’s not a book everyone is going to like but it’s one that I felt was pretty great.
      Thank you!! 😊♥

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Beautiful review, I can really FEEL the love in this, it’s so, so great. I read a couple of negative reviews for this, and I am glad to hear someone loved it! I read the Splintered series, well, only the first book, and if I enjoyed the author’s imagination, I am not sure I’ll continue with it. I’m curious about that one though, it’s such a different universe and I am so, SO curious now…especially knowing there is such a great character development. Thank you for this 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Awww thank you so much, Marie!! ♥
      Yeah, I’ve seen a few mixed reviews for this one myself. It’s makes me think it’s one of those books that someone will either love or not. For me, it was an enjoyable albeit slow read. I adored how unique it was and the characters. I haven’t read her Splintered series yet but I’ve noticed people have mixed reactions to that too. I really do hope you end up enjoying RoseBlood if you decide to read it. 😊♥

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Fan. Tastic. Review! I must read this like asap!! I’ve been eyeing it for what feels like forever now… and your review just motivated me to read it even sooner. Thanks, Melissa! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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