Published by Abrams (1.10.2017)
Genres: Romance, Urban Fantasy, Young Adult
Format: Audiobook, 432 pages
Length: 15 hours, 12 minutes
Narrator: Rebecca Gibel
Rune Germaine moves to a boarding school outside of Paris, only to discover that at this opera-house-turned-music-conservatory, phantoms really do exist. RoseBlood is a Phantom of the Opera–inspired retelling in which Rune’s biggest talent—her voice—is also her biggest curse.
Rune, whose voice has been compared to that of an angel, has a mysterious affliction linked to her talent that leaves her sick and drained at the end of every performance. Convinced creative direction will cure her, her mother ships her off to a French boarding school for the arts, rumored to have a haunted past.
Shortly after arriving at RoseBlood conservatory, Rune starts to believe something otherworldly is indeed afoot. The mystery boy she’s seen frequenting the graveyard beside the opera house doesn’t have any classes at the school, and vanishes almost as quickly as he appears. When Rune begins to develop a secret friendship with the elusive Thorn, who dresses in clothing straight out of the 19th century, she realizes that in his presence she feels cured. Thorn may be falling for Rune, but the phantom haunting RoseBlood wants her for a very specific and dangerous purpose. As their love continues to grow, Thorn is faced with an impossible choice: lead Rune to her destruction, or save her and face the wrath of the phantom, the only father he’s ever known.
I have very mixed feelings about this book. It’s definitely not Howard’s best work. (Stain is FANTASTIC, read that instead.)
I loved the premise and setting – I’ve never read a Phantom of the Opera retelling, and don’t see many of them to begin with. Howard’s take on incubus/succubus lore was really cool! I also loved Rune’s song and abilities and how they worked.
However, the romance utterly ruined it for me. The soulmate trope has to be done a certain way for me to enjoy it and this one just did not work for me. It was too instalovey and cheesy for me. I found myself rolling my eyes and zoning out in those parts. The “twin flame” (two halves of one soul) idea was interesting but the execution was not my cup of tea.
I also found some of the interactions and dialogue to be kind of juvenile and awkward. I don’t have examples because I’m terrible about bookmarking audiobooks – I usually listen at work when my hands are busy so going back to find certain passages is difficult. I don’t know if I’m just getting too old for high-school-esque interactions or what, but it just felt kind of shallow. I’m not a super huge fan of the boarding school trope anyway. I did love RoseBlood Academy itself and how it was dark and atmospheric!
The characters fell flat for me, too. I did really like Sunny but she was the only one I cared about. It didn’t help either that the narration was kind of meh – I did like the French accents, though.
I’m so sad that I didn’t love this one.
Writing style: 3.5/5
Overall rating: 2.5/5