by Livia Blackburne
Series: Rosemarked #1
Published on November 7, 2017 by Disney Hyperion
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
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.
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I had doubts about Rosemarked. I hadn’t heard much going into it and I ended up spending several days trying to push through the first 100 pages or so. A rough beginning led me to finishing the book with a craving for the sequel!
The book bounces back and forth between the perspectives of Zivah, a healer who contracts an deadly disease, and Dineas, a soldier who’s been through so much already but still wants to fight for his people and their freedom. Amidst their personal struggles, the world they live in is under siege by the rose plague as well as the empire invading the surrounding lands and leaving little behind. Those who have described Rosemarked as a political fantasy are definitely right. Everything happening comes down to the schemes of those higher up and the conflicts between different groups of people.
I thought Blackburne did a great job with the characters. Zivah is more reserved, highly intelligent, and patient which is the perfect compliment to Dineas who’s more into taking action and often takes on the role of protector. They have their own conflicts with each other as their respective cultures have been at odds in the past, but came together to face a stronger enemy. That Zivah was a healer was cool since I read about female assassins and warriors pretty often in YA fantasy and enjoyed the change of pace. The scientist in me also appreciated all the talk about the healing arts too. And don’t get me wrong, I loved Dineas too but I wouldn’t say he had that extra “wow” factor for me.
Their romance was something that I hoped for the entire book. I was shipping these two from the moment they met but was only partially satisfied with how things turned out but that’s not because it was badly written. No, Blackburne took “slow burn” to the extreme and now I need to get my hands on the sequel ASAP. To be honest, due to my biggest complaint about the book (which I’ll get to in a moment), I ended up reading mostly for this romance element tied in with the story. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the world-building and the plot overall, but the characters made me want to read Rosemarked above all else.
Now I had one major problem with this book and it comes down to the pacing. The story was good. The characters were good. And, honestly, I think the scenes included were necessary to really understand everything. But this book was just so slow to start out. It eventually picked up but took so long to get there that I started losing interest several times over and went for other books instead. Which is a shame because if the pacing had been better I think this could have easily been in my top ten favorite reads of the year.
Rosemarked is interesting, unique, and definitely worth checking out if you’re looking for something a bit different in YA fantasy. Can’t wait for the sequel, Umbertouched!