Book Talk: Rosemarked by Livia Blackburne

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Talk: Rosemarked by Livia BlackburneRosemarked by Livia Blackburne
Series: Rosemarked #1
Published by Disney Hyperion on November 7, 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 390
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
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A healer who cannot be healed . . .

When Zivah falls prey to the deadly rose plague, she knows it’s only a matter of time before she fully succumbs. Now she’s destined to live her last days in isolation, cut off from her people and unable to practice her art—until a threat to her village creates a need that only she can fill.

A soldier shattered by war . . .

Broken by torture at the hands of the Amparan Empire, Dineas thirsts for revenge against his captors. Now escaped and reunited with his tribe, he’ll do anything to free them from Amparan rule—even if it means undertaking a plan that risks not only his life but his very self.

Thrust together on a high-stakes mission to spy on the capital, the two couldn’t be more different: Zivah, deeply committed to her vow of healing, and Dineas, yearning for vengeance. But as they grow closer, they must find common ground to protect those they love. And amidst the constant fear of discovery, the two grapple with a mutual attraction that could break both of their carefully guarded hearts.

This smart, sweeping fantasy with a political edge and a slow-burning romance will capture fans of The Lumatere Chronicles and An Ember in the Ashes.

Maybe it’s not the same for you other bloggers, but sometimes I download review copies, and even as I click download, I’m pretty sure that was a bad choice. Like, yes, I do want to try the book or I wouldn’t have taken an egalley, buuuuut I have this inkling that the book really isn’t going to work for me. Something about the blurb or my familiarity with the author’s other work makes me hesitant.

In this case, that feeling came from a combination of the sickeningly pink cover and the fact that I DNFed Midnight Thief because I didn’t feel a connection to the characters. However, this is one of those cases where I actually turned out to be wrong.

The world building leans a bit to the simpler side, but it absolutely works. There’s room for more scale as Zivah and Dineas learn more about the world as well. Where the world building shines is in the plague that gives this book its title. The rosemarked plague is fascinating and scary, and it puts our heroine on a time limit, which accelerates the slower pace with tension.

Admittedly, I did consider DNFing Rosemarked early on. It’s a book that builds slowly, as does the characterization. Before you have a real handle on Zivah, the plot’s beginning. Dineas spends quite a bit of time being anger personified. Their interactions are that of true hatred on Dineas’ part and great misunderstanding. It’s not a sexy banter hate by any means.

However, as the story unravels, I found myself slowly drawn in to the story of these two. Zivah has this massive quiet strength. While she doesn’t have any physical fighting skills and has sworn only to use her powers for healing, she even bests Dineas. She’s clever and resourceful, and lbr it’s totally badass that she has a a poisonous snake best friend. She lacks the flash of most YA fantasy heroines, but there’s no denying that she’s a heroine and a strong one, albeit in an atypical way.

Though the book isn’t particularly twisty, I the way the plot unravels is done incredibly well. I mean, any time an author can incorporate memory loss into a book and not have it feel like a cheap plot point, I’m pretty impressed. The emotional tension between Dineas and himself could be shallow and obvious but instead feels honest and full of depth. The romance isn’t a massive ship, but there’s a quiet fascination to it.

By the end of the book, I wanted to immediately pick up the sequel, which is always a sign of a book that has successfully grabbed me. I’d like to see more from the supporting cast of the emotional depth and shades of grey that I loved out of the main characters. I’m very glad I gave Blackburne another try.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

 

2 responses to “Book Talk: Rosemarked by Livia Blackburne”

  1. Dahlia Adler says:

    Yesssss I was super stunned by how much I enjoyed this one and DESPERATELY wanted a sequel by the end!

    • Christina Franke says:

      Same! I really didn’t think I was going to like it, but I couldn’t resist giving it a try. It really grew on me, and I’m so annoyed I have to wait until late in this year for book two. HARRUMPH.

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