Book Review: The Rose Master
ashley | I love everything there is about gothic literature, but it’s something I don’t end up reading much of, for some strange reason. The opening lines of The Rose Master by Valentina Cano shows a murder of crows falling dead from the sky. The mood is set and I am hooked.
The tone of this book reminded me a bit of Wuthering Heights, but from the help’s standpoint. Anne grew up motherless serving in a home and on her 17th birthday, she is transferred to a distant cousin of her former mistress to help serve in Rosewood Manor. Her new master, Lord Grey, keeps a very low profile and odd routines, creating a web of mystery last settles like dust on top of the already creepy home. As Anne pokes around the manor, we start to see exactly what kind of situation she’s ended up in.
I really like how Anne’s questions and curiosities are voiced, so often in these cases the person questions their sanity at the occurrence of odd things as opposed to questioning the people around them, the people who obviously have answers. I like that she is a loyal and professional employee but is still bold enough to speak her voice and stand her ground, even when it’s face to face with Lord Grey. She’s got a bit of fire under that bonnet.
The majority of the book is Anne wandering around this gothic house, disrupting some haunting force that seems to be watching and following and taunting her. But there’s little inkling as to what is actually happening, as everyone else is very tight lipped about it. Every time I started to lose my patience and wanted to yell for something to happen, the book was one step ahead of me, surprising me around every corner when my guard was down. Cano has great timing and a skill at building suspense and delivering exactly what you want while making it seem unexpected. Honestly, all through the first half of the book, my mind kept yelling WHAT IS HAPPENING.
This is ultimately a story about magic. Dark magic. But it’s a very unique twist on it, a fresh approach, which we need more of these days. However, I was kind of let down a little bit with the unveiling of what was behind everything, what was tormenting Anne and Lord Grey. The book had built and built to this one moment and it felt kind of anti-climactic and not overly clever, which was kind of contradicting to the rest of the book, which I felt was very clever and unique.
For me, the ending fell kind of flat and did not live up to the building tension that I felt throughout it, which actually kind of made the rest of the book lose its luster. Like the candle Anne was finally able to smother with her own hidden magic, my excitement was quickly snuffed out and I was left feeling a little ripped off.
June 23, 2014