I’ve always been a fan of retellings. Retellings of fairy tales and myths, retellings set in the present or the future, retellings with human characters or fictional races—they’re all great to me. If I sit down and look at my bookshelves, though, it seems I tend to stray a lot towards retellings that are in some way tied to Disney.
Yeah, I guess a lot of Disney films are actually retellings themselves, what with the live-action Cinderella, Into the Woods, and Frozen all within the last few years and countless releases before that. But for many of these stories, the Disney version was the first exposure I, and likely many others, had to the tale, and I’ve realized that the Disney films I liked the most are the stories I am most interested in reading about, original version or otherwise.
Which is how I ended up falling in love with the Splintered series by A.G. Howard. @aghowardwrites
The series is a somewhat darker take on Alice’s Adventures in
Wonderland, and it manages to perfectly combine the whimsy and
fanaticism of Wonderland with the creepy, foreboding undertones hiding
just beneath the surface of this zany world. The characters are all
uniquely talented and strong, but flawed in just the right ways, and
there’s tons of action and snark and swoon-worthy kissing scenes. And
the world building is ridiculously awesome. It’s still Wonderland, but
it’s so much, well, cooler.
If you’ve ever loved anything related to Wonderland or evil queens, complex magic, and moth-men with bad attitudes, I suggest picking up this series. If you’re not convinced and you don’t mind spoilers, check out my review of the final book in the trilogy here. There are spoilers, and now I’ve told you twice, so if you see something you don’t want, it’s your own fault.
The reason I bring up A.G. Howard and her books is because the cover for her next book was released yesterday, and it’s gorgeous! In the same vein as the Splintered books, the cover features the main character with plenty of hints towards the story it’s retelling. Because yes, this book is another retelling, but this time, the original story is not a children’s tale but instead a gothic novel.
Roseblood is a retelling/spinoff of the great French novel, The Phantom of the Opera, and even without my having told you, I’m pretty sure most people would get the hint based on the cover:
The white mask is a dead giveaway, isn’t it? I would be willing to bet that the majority of people have seen a picture somewhere of the phantom wearing his distinctive mask and cape. (I really hope somewhere wears a cape in this book. I have a thing for capes. Sorry, Edna Mode.)
But still, the red is killing me! Her lips are such a brilliant contrast to the mask and her eyes, and the ethereal blue glowing behind her is soooo dramatic. It’ll look so pretty on my shelf next to the Splintered books.
Now, I will freely admit that I’ve never really been
part of the Phandom a major Phantom fan. I like the music, but I’ve never read the book or seen the musical, and the only film version I’ve seen was the heavily criticized 2004 version. Literally the only thing two things I remember about the film are the switch from black and white to color and the famous chandelier crash, so obviously it didn’t make much of an impact on me.
That being said, I’ve recently come to consider myself a Francophile. I blame my love of Stephanie Perkin’s Anna and the French Kiss (no review to push for this, but you should read it anyway!) and my recent obsession with the French/Korean/American television show, Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug and Cat Noir. (I warn you about that show; it’s great and lots of fun, but you will get sucked down the rabbit hole in, like, three episodes and you will never be able to get the theme song out of your head.) I’ve also started learning French, thanks to some podcasts, a lot of self-teaching, and a wonderfully patient penpal (shout-out to @yourindigoness). So I feel like I ought to have some appreciation for Phantom, but my introduction via the movie was probably a bad start.
But what better way to begin again than with Roseblood? For anyone still with me, here’s the official synopsis:
In this modern day spinoff of Leroux’s gothic tale of unrequited love turned to madness, seventeen-year-old Rune Germain has a mysterious affliction linked to her operatic talent, and a horrifying mistake she’s trying to hide.
Hoping creative direction will help, Rune’s mother sends her to a French arts conservatory for her senior year, located in an opera house rumored to have ties to The Phantom of the Opera. At RoseBlood, Rune secretly befriends the masked Thorn – an elusive violinist who not only guides her musical transformation through dreams that seem more real than reality itself, but somehow knows who she is behind her own masks.
As the two discover an otherworldly connection, a soul-deep romance blossoms. But when Thorn’s dark agenda comes to light, he’s forced to make a deadly choice: lead Rune to her destruction, or face the wrath of the phantom who has haunted the opera house for a century, and is the only father he’s ever known.
Seriously, even a non-Phantom fan could get behind a book like that! Granted, they’ll have to wait awhile; Roseblood isn’t slated for release until next January (the 10th, as of right now), which gives everyone plenty of time to dive into the Splintered series to get a taste of Howard’s writing style or to read the original Leroux novel. I’ll definitely be opting for the latter. If A.G. Howard thinks it’s worth reading, I should probably give it a shot…and maybe I’ll try to find a better version of the film to watch as well. Preferably one that doesn’t hide the face of someone quite so good looking as Gerard Butler.
So heads-up for Roseblood, which promises to be yet another fantastic retelling from A.G. Howard. Put it on your Want-to-Read list today, and in the meantime, check out the Splintered series. You won’t be disappointed.