Rosemarked by Livia Blackburne
Published November 7th, 2017
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.
I rated Rosemarked 4/5 stars on Goodreads.
This review, like all my reviews, is spoiler-free.
To start off, I want to give a birthday shoutout to my good old friend THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA for turning 241 today (full disclosure: I had to Google “how old is America” in order to write that sentence but nonetheless let’s party)! *runs around waving a flag and shouting The Star-Spangled Banner* Let’s celebrate with a book review, shall we?
When I joined NetGalley about a month ago, this was one of the first books that I requested and I was so excited to see that I’d received an ARC for review. I thought the cover was gorgeous, the synopsis was enticing, and the reviews were stellar. I have to give an unpaid thank you to Disney Book Group for letting me get a sneak peek at this fabulous read!
Rosemarked by Livia Blackburne is a story told by two narrators: Zivah, a healer who’s contracted the lethal rose plague, and Dineas, a rebel fighter looking to take down the empire that threatens to overtake his homeland. Zivah and Dineas are tasked by their respective leaders to work together in gathering intel about the Amparan Empire.
What stood out to me first was Blackburne’s method of world-building. Throughout the book in its entirety, our two narrators developed the world in a way that was seamless and natural. Based on Blackburne’s word choices and use of dialogue, I felt like I was seeing this fantasy(ish) world through its inhabitants’s eyes and I enjoyed it. There was not a data dump in sight: I as a reader was given pieces of the world as Zivah and Dineas observed it in a way that was normal to them.
When I looked up this book on Goodreads, almost every review raved about the slow-burning romance between Zivah and Dineas. I have to jump on the bandwagon here because I think the romance was done right in the context of the book. I’d hate to spoil it for you, so I’ll just leave it at this: Blackburne did well in my humble opinion.
While there were a few clichés sprinkled throughout, I didn’t think that they were prominent enough to detract from the book’s summative originality. The atypical romance subplot, stellar world-building, unique main plot, and dynamic character relationships made up for the fact that Zivah was a little one-sided. Dineas showed a clear character progression, but Zivah was somewhere in between static and dynamic.
My only other criticism is the naming. Personally, I prefer to know how to pronounce my character’s names, but I understand the need for originality. Other than that, I was pretty pleased with the book as a whole and consider it a worthwhile read.
Have you read Rosemarked? What did you think?
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