Rose: Cool World, But Nothing Special Overall

Rose is written by Holly Webb. It was published in 2009 by Orchard Books.

Mr. Fountain’s grand residence is a world away from the dark orphanage Rose has left behind. For the house is overflowing with sparkling magic—she can feel it. And soon Rose realizes that she might be just a little bit magical, too…But when orphans begin mysteriously disappearing, Rose’s magic is put to the test. Can she find the missing children before it’s too late?

Quick note: You may have noticed that there was no Fairy Tale Friday update. That’s because I’ve had  less time to read and so have exhausted my supply of fairy tale reviews for the time being. Fear not! Fairy Tale Friday will resume in a few weeks.

Rose has a really interesting world that I wished had been explored slightly more, although for a children’s book the world is pretty complex all ready. I don’t think it’s ever mentioned where the book takes place, but it reminded me of an 1800s, Dickensian, magical London (like in How To Catch A Bogle), but any book that takes place in a city with orphans running around makes me think it’s London (probably because of Dickens).

The magic is a little strange, because there’s the chemical aspect of it but then there’s Rose, who can tame wild elemental spirits with a single glare, so I’m not sure of the rules. But again, it’s a children’s book, and you don’t really have to know how magic works to enjoy it (although I tend to enjoy magic more if I can at least grasp some of what makes it tick).

The plot and mechanics aren’t too special, especially not the talking cat, and Rose is a bit too Girl With Powerful Magic Who Can Do Things No One Else Can, and the plot in general is too Children Somehow Defeat Powerful Adult Villain Despite Lack Of Training (Thanks To Aforementioned Girl) Because The Other Adults Are Incompetent, but overall, a decent book.

Rating: 3/5

Recommended Age Range: 10+

Warnings: Alchemy, blood magic.

Genre: Fantasy, Children’s

Rose watched Gustavus give Freddie a considering look, then the cat turned his parti-coloured eyes on her. “Where did you learn to hear cats talk, girl?”

Rose shook her head. “I don’t know. I never knew they could. The cat at the orphanage never said anything, not that I heard. You just talked to me about the cream that first morning I saw you. Last week.”

The cat sniffed. “Who knows. You wouldn’t expect a servant child to have magic—”

“Magic!” Freddie interrupted scornfully. “Of course she doesn’t have magic. Little guttersnipe.”

Overall Review:

Rose doesn’t do much to stake out new territory in fantasy, but what it does use is familiar and fairly complex. I loved the Dickensian London feel and the small look at the way magic is used in this world, such as the moving glass in the church. The cover is really cute, too. Its only flaw is that it’s not really anything special.

You can buy this here: Rose

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