RoseBlood by A.G. Howard: Not Your Usual Phantom Retelling

RoseBloodTitle: RoseBlood
Author: A.G. Howard
Publisher: Abrams
Buy this book: Amazon / Book Depository
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 find RoseBlood nigh on impossible to review as I still can't quite figure out how I actually feel about it. Quite honestly, it is one of the weirdest books I have ever read, and I always struggle with these kind of strange reads. I read Howard's debut, Splintered, a few years ago and seemed to be one of only a few people who didn't love it, it just didn't work for me. RoseBlood had appealed to me as I am drawn to Phantom retellings, plus the blurb I saw for it made no mention of anything supernatural or otherworldly. RoseBlood was not what I was expecting at all, going off the blurb I saw for it. I was surprised when the book turned weirdly supernatural when nothing I had seen had hinted at that.
Me reading this book:
confused jane the virgin wut jtv i dont think so

Those who loved Howard's Splintered series will probably be equally enthralled by this dark, weird and fantastical story. I was completely thrown off by the strangeness of this story and its supernatural elements. Maybe if I had been aware of that before starting then I might have found it easier to swallow. For me, it just seemed a little too much and it didn't work for me. The Phantom role in this and his plans for Rune were just too out there and ridiculous for me to grasp. Honestly most of my time spent reading this I was utterly confused and trying to figure out what the hell was going on. Those who love Splintered will probably eat this up, as it is all the strange of Splintered, meets the darker side of the Phantom story.

friends confused joey joey tribbiani matt leblancOur lead character, Rune, is someone I just couldn't seem to care about. She is moving to a musical boarding school in France, that focuses on Opera. She is running away from something she did back home, that ended with a boy in a coma. I felt her back story was quite muddled and confusing. For a lot of the story there are big questions surrounding Rune and I was quite disappointed by how these were concluded in the end -especially when it came to her grandmother. Rune's other issues was that she felt a little like a walking, talking special snowflake cliche. Although this book contained a few cliches, the most annoying was definitely the seemingly pointless drama between Rune and the schools resident 'Regina George'.

It was a real shame here that so much time was given to Rune and Thorn, but so very little attention was given to secondary characters. The secondary characters are mostly ignored in this book and only pop up when they can serve some purpose. It is a shame because I feel that there was a lot of potential with these characters, and more of them could have mad this book more enjoyable. This book is just the Rune and Thorn show and that was disappointing to me. Thorn is a very intriguing character and I found him a lot more interesting than Rune. I felt he was fleshed out a lot more and had more of a personality. Thorn also has such an interesting back story that was explored a lot throughout the book. He has spent a lot of his life being raised by the Phantom, and has been helping him to achieve his goal no matter what the Phantom asks of him. Thorn was a very conflicted character and I liked that about him.

movie disney gross goth emo
My reaction to 'soulmates'
One bookish trope that I just can't stand is soulmates, actual soulmates. Those that are 'destined' to be together. Some like that, I absolutely hate it. I would much rather have a romance built on two characters that get to know one another and falling for who they are as a person. I don't go for the whole instant connection because of a supernatural link between them. I have so much I want to talk about regarding this book, but I don't want to give away any major spoilers.

2/5 Butterflies

I think A.G. Howard fans will absolutely love this, it just didn't work for me. I felt it was a little too long and completely confusing, not at all what I had been expecting. I felt I might have handled all the supernatural elements better if I had known about it in advance, but the blurb I saw didn't have any mention of anything like that. This is also not a retelling and more a continuation of Phantom of the Opera. If you love weird, wacky books then this is probably one you will love. Or if you are looking for a supernatural Phantom retelling.


  1. I had super mixed feelings about Splintered but I still have this one on my wish list because I LOVE Phantom! Thanks for the warning about the paranormal elements...I wasn't really expecting that either!

    -Cristina @ Girl in the Pages

  2. Oh bummer. Sorry to hear you didn't enjoy this one. I actually had mixed feelings over her Splintered trilogy, while I liked it well enough, there were some issues that I did not enjoy at all. But I've always been intrigued with the Phantom story despite not knowing much about it. This is definitely one I want to check out. So sorry to hear that it didn't live up to your expectations. I hope your next read is more to your liking. Nice review all the same!

  3. Sad to hear you didn't enjoy this - however just the fact that its a phantom of the Opera retelling has me interested. I still think I will give this one a try. Thanks for sharing :)

  4. I am going to be reading this soon as I have an ARC of it and I don't think it's going to be something I'll love because I find myself put off by weird books myself! Great review though, and I loved that you were honest!

    xx Anisha (

  5. Ackkk I am so not sure about this one. I've heard mixed things and while I loved Splintered, I am just not at all eager to read this one for some reason. I might still give it a go at some point? I don't know.

  6. Sorry that this one was a bit too long and confusing for you to be able to really figure out what the point was or what was happening. I haven't read any of her works yet, but I don't think this is where I will start...

  7. I'm sorry this one wasn't a winner for you, Charnell! I loved Splintered, and am very intrigued by this one, so maybe I'll give it a go. I can understand why Howard's writing can be a bit confusing. Thanks for a great review!

  8. Oh I was excited for this :( And it has all the YA clichés that I hate. NOOOOO. Anyways great review :)
    Prabhleen @ Booksarelife987

  9. I hate it when I can love a book I've looked forward to reading. Thanks for the review and for trope warnings.

  10. I'm sorry to see that you didn't enjoy this one much. I hadn't even heard of it until now, but I'm not sure if it's my type of book.
    Krystianna @ Downright Dystopian

  11. Too bad about this book being filled with cliches, I hate that. I haven't read Splintered, but now at least I know I can skip this one too. Thanks for your honest review.

  12. I don't think I've ever read a phantom retelling. That's interesting on it's own. Too bad it just didn't work for you.

    Merry Christmas!


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