Author: A.G. Howard
Genre: YA Fantasy/Retelling
Rating: 2 stars
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
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.
I…am still not sure what to think of this book. I did enjoy it as I read it but it was also just very…odd. I love anything Phantom of the Opera and so I was super excited when I saw this. I’ve heard great things about A.G. Howard’s books, although I haven’t read any myself. This isn’t a retelling of Phantom as much as it is a sequel. I loved that idea, and for the most part, I think the story is executed very well. But this book also fell a little flat for me.
Writing: the writing was beautiful, and I can see why people are drawn into Howard’s story. The prose is lyrical and haunting, perfect for this story. But it is also so overly detailed. I got lost in the story, because the writing was sometimes confusing and overshadowed the plot. This story is not very fast-paced to begin with. I almost DNF’d 3 times in the first 50%, but pulled through. I did like the dual POV, as I thought it added more depth and interest.
Characters: I think I liked the characters. That may be a weird thing to say, idk. But they had so much potential, and I think I liked who they could have been. But again, it was overshadowed by a lot of the weirdness going on in the book. For the most part, Rune knew what was going on was creepy af, so any bad decisions she made, she knew they were bad. I loved her group of friends, and wish we got more of them in the story. I loved Thorn and the relationship with the Phantom, and thought that part of the story was well-done.
Plot: The plot definitely could have been better. I like the idea of the plot. And the way it played out wasn’t terrible. But as I mentioned, the book dragged for the first half. And then I feel like everything happened too quickly all at once at the end. And did I mention that this book was just weird? Don’t get me wrong, I love weird. But this book had me wondering what the heck is going on right now way too much to actually enjoy it. The whole destined lovers definitely put me off, as it was not romantic, just creepy.
I can see why people would love this book, and just because it wasn’t for me, doesn’t mean it’s not for you. I was waffling between giving this book 2 or 3 stars, but after mulling on it for a few days, I went with 2. I enjoyed it while reading, but my thoughts after the fact are mostly just meh. (Also, has no one else mentioned her use of g*psy, multiple times? It soured the end of the book for me, quite frankly. I know that she has an answer for why, but I don't agree or think her reasoning sufficient). While I would still love to pick up Splintered, this one unfortunately was just not for me.
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