Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Fiction, Young Adult
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Publication Date: December 30, 2014
Page Count: 304
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Goodreads Synopsis: "Cano does a fine job of setting mood and atmosphere, and her characters dance around one another with relentless industry and brooding allure, fighting their inevitable attraction." — Publishers Weekly
The day Anne Tinning turns seventeen, birds fall from the sky. But that's hardly the most upsetting news. She's being dismissed from the home she's served at since she was a child, and shipped off to become the newly hired parlor maid for a place she's never heard of. And when she sees the run-down, isolated house, she instantly knows why:
There's something wrong with Rosewood Manor.
Staffed with only three other servants, all gripped by icy silence and inexplicable bruises, and inhabited by a young master who is as cold as the place itself, the house is shrouded in neglect and thick with fear. Her questions are met with hushed whispers, and she soon finds herself alone in the empty halls, left to tidy and clean rooms no one visits.
As the feeling of being watched grows, she begins to realize there is something else in the house with them--some creature that stalks the frozen halls and claws at her door. A creature that seems intent on harming her.
When a fire leaves Anne trapped in the manor with its Master, she finally demands to know why. But as she forces the truth about what haunts the grounds from Lord Grey, she learns secrets she isn't prepared for. The creature is very real, and she's the only one who can help him stop it.
Now, Anne must either risk her life for the young man she's grown to admire, or abandon her post while she still can.
Who Would I Recommend This To?
Fans of the Madman's Daughter Trilogy (Megan Shepherd), Cruel Beauty (Rosamond Hodge), Beauty and the Beast, and Jane Eyre
Background & Backstory
I'm going to admit that my requesting of The Rose Master by Valentina Cana on Netgalley was a COMPLETELY click-happy decision. I remember being apprehensive because it wasn't an ARC coming out, but one that was already out in the general public. Yet that cover that was so beautiful and so relevant (thankfully) to the story just drew me in and made me request the book.
I was not actually planning on reading this book at this point in time either because I had just finished a blog tour book, it was pretty late, and sleep seemed like a good idea. Yet I was on a reading high and wanted something to quench my thirst, so I flipped through my Netgalley books (you know, so I can get my ratio higher than the pathetic 25% it is now), and The Rose Master just jumped out at me.
What Was My Reaction Upon Finishing?
*round of applause for a standalone book well written and wrapped*
Jane Eyre/Beauty and the Beast Retelling: Everyone knows the story of Beauty and the Beast and has read or at least watched the movie (*raises hand*) Jane Eyre. I was extremely surprised to see how accurate that "X meets X" comparison was. We had the creepy mansion with a brooding (somewhat stern in appearance) master of the house who had a dark past wrapped up with magic and roses. We had the gradual storyline of master and servant falling in love in the English countryside. Despite these strong elements taken from both stories, Cana did them justice with her execution and unique flare with which she wrote the plot.
Anne Tinning: She was not a protagonist who blew me way by any means, but she did hold her own in the story and was likable despite not having any apparent kick-ass qualities about her. She had just enough spirit to head a household (in terms of servantry) and just enough vulnerability for her character's arc to develop throughout the course of the novel. She reminded me a lot of Jane Hawking (I just watched The Theory of Everything) in the way that she took charge and took care of Lord Grey in the motherly/wifely duties of the time period.
Strong Magic System: The Rose Master was surprisingly short, and while not much time was spent describing/dwelling on magic and how it worked in the story, it was well developed and I had a clear understanding of it despite the overall book's short length. I do however think the story might have been better if the strange elements of the story did not have explanations, but were left a little more unexplained without the magic incorporated into the story to make it more mysterious.
Cover: This will basically be feels-filled about how much I love this cover. It has so much poetic justice and different symbolism in the book that is visually stunning. There's the raven and the skull, and the rosessm abd the bleak, desolate background. The font is just so cool, and this cover is perfect for the story.
Ending: It wasn't until the very end of the book that I realized this was a standalone. Of course, there will always be threads left untied by the author, but I was shocked with how nice and neat everything came toogether. There could defintiely be a companion novel, but the ending was so perfect.
How Likely Is It That I Will Read Another Book By Valentina Cana?
I'm aware that Cana has other books published, but I'm not DYING to research them because of how much I liked The Rose Master and how satisfied I was. Yet if a promotional opportunity arises for another spooky/gothic thriller written by her, I will definitely read or promote it.
Conclusion: The Rose Master was well-written, beautiful, with a subtle romance, and solid ending.
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