RoseBlood – A.G. Howard

RoseBlood
RoseBlood by A.G. Howard

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I am most familiar with the tale of the Phantom of the Opera from the musical of that name. It is likely different from the book by Gaston Leroux. I haven’t read the original novel that inspired the opera and RoseBlood itself in years. As a result, I am sure that I miss some nods to the original or nuances that people more familiar with the story will understand.
Our main character, Rune has a unique relationship with music. Certain works, usually arias written for women, speak to her and make their home in her soul. Upon hearing the soaring notes, she is immediately overtaken by the need to sing and expel the music. When she was younger and her father accompanied her on the violin, those moments were glorious – but they did not last. Her father became ill and then died, leaving her with no accompaniment and the music began to cage her. No longer could she just release the notes inside her, but they took something with them and left her feeling ill. If the piece spoke to her she had no choice but let it overwhelm her vocal cords and release.
The Phantom lives in his classic dark dwelling beneath the school, which was once an opera house. He travels the underground river via a boat, has various neglected instruments strewn about and is friendly with a red swan. Just your normal phantom behavior. Pretty early on, we learn that who we first believe to be this iteration of the phantom is not the one from the book and are introduced to the Phantom himself. The Phantom is Thorn’s guardian and teacher, although he has been sickly lately and Thorn has been taking care of him.
There is an interesting addition in this version of auras and chakras. Rune, Thorn and the Phantom are able to see the music as it fills the air with colour. The Phantom even taught Thorn how to harness that auric energy from emotions, and the even more powerful music, to do things like manipulating feelings and thoughts. Together, Thorn and the Phantom plan to alienate Rune from her teachers and classmates until she discovers the lair surrenders to the darkness and they hope she gives up her music to them.
Rune’s first day at RoseBlood does not go exactly as she hoped, but her new friend and peer advisor, Sunny introduces her to Jackson Reynolds. My immediate feelings about the two were that they were playing this retelling’s version of Meg and Raoul, whether that is, in fact, true you shall have to discover by reading the book. Her relationship with her Phantom parallels that of the original, as he helps her to calm the music inside her.
Although the author provides reasoning later on for their immediate connection and trust, it still feels like insta-love. To know someone for only a short while and frequently consider abandoning or betraying everything you’ve ever known and believed in for the past decade. That is intense and not something people could just easily give up on whether it is the right way or not.
While I did enjoy this book, I probably would not go out and purchase a copy for myself. In order to make this the next chapter of the Phantom of the Opera, rather than a re-telling the author added some different aspects to the story that were not in the original. I am not entirely sure how I feel about this change – it was interesting but as I was reading I didn’t feel or believe that it was as well thought out as it should have been. I think that the idea of the story was a lot more intriguing than the actual execution of it ended up being.
After the conclusion of the book, there is a note from the author that describes what inspired her to write this version of the story. It shows where she got each of her ideas and the amount of thought that went into them. As I stated before, I see the merit of each addition (and admire the research that went into them) but it just seemed to be a little too much added and it became unwieldy.

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