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Imagine having a voice so beautiful that it causes all people in the nearby vicinity to pause and listen; a voice so wondrous that it appears to be magical, almost angelic. Rune Germain doesn’t have to imagine, as this is her nightmarish reality. Despite having such a beautiful voice, her talent is unmanageable, causing her to burst into opera without control, and leaving her drained of energy after performing. After exhausting all other options, Rune’s mom decides to send her to RoseBlood; a boarding school in France designed specifically for the musical arts that is said to be descended from the original opera house from “The Phantom of the Opera.”

From the moment she arrives, Rune notices something amiss at the academy, when she sees a bronze-eyed boy hidden in the gardens, leaving only dead rose petals in his wake. Soon, she learns his name is Thorn, and the two begin to form a deep friendship, as he helps her control her musical power with his enchanting violin. As the two fall head first into their undeniable attraction, Thorn struggles between loyalty to the Phantom, his only family left, and the girl who understands him better than himself, while Rune must learn to trust the boy beyond the mask.

"Besides creating a beautifully developed plot, Howard brought a wonderful cast of characters, each uniquely important....”

New York Times bestselling author of the Splintered series, A. G. Howard combines the darkness and music of the original “Phantom of the Opera” with the magical, new-aged romance of Rune and Thorn’s experiences together to create ROSEBLOOD. This thrilling new addition to the shelves surprised me countless times, warping my brain to comprehend its unique fantasy and the twisted ideals of this Phantom. From the outside, I never expected the book to be as magical, yet dramatic as it was, but I was pleasantly surprised. Not only that, but Rune and Thorn were shown to be more than the typical young adult romance characters --- their soul-deep connection was empowering and beautiful, mixed with just the right amount of mystery.

Although I enjoyed this book immensely, it was hard to get into, and I didn’t fully appreciate the novel as much for the beginning quarter. The plot took a while to pick up speed, but once it did I was completely hooked. Besides creating a beautifully developed plot, Howard brought a wonderful cast of characters, each uniquely important in their impact on Rune’s life. Seeing how Rune’s friends welcomed her into her life as well as watching their own lives and relationships develop provided an interesting realism to the book. I also loved how the Phantom played a key role in the novel, without overshadowing other characters, and staying true to some of his characteristics from “The Phantom of the Opera.” Another similarity to this book’s inspiration was the magic of Rune’s voice, and was described to make me feel as if I could hear her music myself.

Thorn’s character was beautiful and hopeless, a boy trying to do the right thing while staying true to the ones he loves. I couldn’t help but wish for everything to work out for him, especially after learning more and more about his personal life. ROSEBLOOD usually centered around Rune’s first person point of view, but it sometimes switched to Thorn’s third person perspective, which allowed otherwise inaccessible insight on Thorn’s individual beliefs, and really helped to improve reading experience of the story.

This book will bring new and old fans of the Phantom together in this groundbreaking standalone, as well as anyone who enjoys fantasy and romance. I would recommend this to fans of Howard’s other series, Splintered, as well as fans of remakings of classics like CINDER by Marissa Meyer and DOROTHY MUST DIE by Danielle Paige.

Reviewed by Jessica K., Teen Board Member on December 27, 2017

by A. G. Howard