**Warning: Spoilers May Abound**
The Rose Master, Valentina Cano
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.
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.
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
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. (source:goodreads)
Cover-I was a part of the cover reveal (here) for this book, and how I feel about the cover can be summed up in my reaction to seeing it in an email. I freaked. Like, "oh my god," freaked. The whole thing is: it's not beautiful, persey, but what people forget is that something doesn't have to be flashy to be absolutely gorgeous.
The frame, the roses, the skull, the bird . . . I don't know. For some reason I just love it. The title was placed really well, too, right over the top of everything so it's all broken yet mingles well with the image.
I think the author's name could have done just as well without the red ribbon at the bottom (which sort of claims a lot of the attention, particularly stealing it away from the roses), but hey, I'm just picky.
Ultimately, a fantastic cover
Narrative-This book is told in the first person POV of Anne Tinning. I'll admit that I was slightly thrown off in the beginning; for some reason my mind wasn't grasping at the language used, since I felt like it was a strange mix of language from Victorian London and the language we use in the present-day. There was also a bit of telling, when for some reason the reader had to learn about the entire history of Anne's family in one go, which I felt was a bit much and weighed down the story.
Then we got really into the plot, and I kind of liked it. A lot. Mainly my choice, here, is based in the way Cano was able to describe things, such as winter "tapping" at the windows. It was extremely poetic, without being considered too heavy to be in a work of fiction.
What also stuck out to me where the way the scenes were arranged. As I got further into the novel, the scenes became shorter, separated more and more by line breaks (with a gorgeous rose image) instead of writing in a time lapse. This style felt especially familiar to read, probably because it's the way I, myself, tend to write. Based on that fact, I might be a bit biased, but I felt it was a wonderful way to quicken the pace as the novel led up to its conclusion.
Plot-Two words: "ghost" story. Sort of. It was the only thing I thought of while reading, even after the discovery of what the "thing" inside Rosewood Manor (and no, I'm not telling you what it is). The mystery was played out very well, especially when the other servants in the house all try to act as normal as possible, even with their injuries that they try to hide. It was all really mysterious, and I actually thought it was played out really well; even the scene where everything was explained to Anne wasn't half bad.
Which, for me to say that, is pretty big.
I will say that I expected more, especially toward the ending. I felt like the plot was simply too short, that there could have been some added conflict between Anne and the antagonist (and I'm not going to tell ya'll who that is, either).
But in terms of this book kind of just giving me chills, it was awesome. Like I said: "ghost" story. It was set in a haunted house, and everything, and I was ecstatic to realize this was a book who pulled that aspect off extremely well.
Characters-There's really only two characters that I can talk about here, since they were the ones that showed up the most often (don't worry, I'll talk about a few others just as a side note).
Anne Tilling, our magic-wielding Victorian heroine. Poor girl had no clue what shew as getting herself into when she was transferred to Rosewood; then again, she really didn't have a choice, since her employer was the one who set it up (a common thing to happen with servants in that time period). What I appreciated with Anne was the cross that Cano used between headstrong teenager and respectable woman who knew her place. Ultimately, she was a maid; she was proper and respected her superiors, and it was only when she began to know Grey on a more personal level that the line between servant and friend was blurred enough for her to be comfortable calling him by his first name (like he asked her to), and even then it was only towards the very end of the book. She was also extremely determined to find out what was happening within the manor upon falling victim to many of the haunts, and didn't let her coworkers walk all over her.
Grey was kind of awesome, and I especially liked him in the beginning because his cryptic and strange way of speaking that would often confuse Anne. Even in the beginning, when I'd only get little glimpses of him, he seemed really intriguing, not horrific, and once he begins explaining things and giving the reader more information I found his situation rather interesting. He slowly became warmer, and developed a sense of humor, and the fact that he cared for Anne's safety made him all the more fantastic.
All I'm going to say about the "thing" that was haunting the house: I loved how sassy and snarky it was. And the fact that it was a brutal, violent little thing.
Last two: Ms. Simple, the housekeeper, and Dora, the cook (who really couldn't cook that well). Ultimately, I liked them both. However, something that I noticed about halfway through was that they both fell into simple stereotypes: Simple was the caring and mother-like older woman, and Dora was a girl about Anne's age who quickly became spiteful and jealous toward Anne. beyond that, there wasn't exactly much else that I could place with their characters, but they at least didn't have as big a role in the book as Anne and Grey did.
Final Answer: 4 / 5
Special thanks to Tiffany Rose, a member of the REUTS team, who provided me with a copy of The Rose Master to read and review.