Series: Rosemarked #1
Published by Disney-Hyperion, Hachette Australia on November 7th 2017
Source: Publisher, Netgalley
Genres: Diversity, Young Adult, Romance, Fantasy
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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.
While I enjoyed this author’s previous work, Midnight Thief, which you can find my review here, Rosemarked was on another level. Readers can really tell how much Blackburne’s writing has grown as she continues to write in-depth stories with a multitude of characters. In Rosemarked, we follow the first-person POV’s of Zivah and Dineas, both of whom get embroiled in a plot that could lead to war. Like the blurb says, there’s a very heavy bent towards the politics going on and less on the action, causing for a slower pace. I didn’t mind it at all though, because discovering the nuances of the world and following Zivah and Dineas’s character development was worth it.
I’ve memorized the makings of hundreds of drafts and invented dozens of others. But despite my years of study, despite the skill that everyone tell me I have, I cannot cure myself.
Zivah was a character after my heart. Both her and Dineas goes through so much in this book, and I absolutely fell in love with them as characters and people. She comes from a village called Dara and is lauded for her healing skills, despite the fact that she is hit by the rose plague itself, leaving her rosemarked. When Commander Arxa, a powerful Amparan, comes to ask her to treat the infected people in Sehmar City, she makes the difficult decision in leaving her home to an unfamiliar place where she would be looked down upon for being a victim of the plague. Despite the fact that she’s a healer, she has hidden strengths with her potions – and poisons. Her character really shows how you don’t need to be a fighter to be a badass heroine with dangerous skills. Zivah is at the forefront of the progression of the rose plague and I’m excited to see how she unravels its secrets in the following book.
Dineas is almost a complete contrast to Zivah, personality-wise. They are both strong characters, but while she’s a healer, he’s a warrior and fighter. Dineas comes from the Shidadi tribe and was captured by the Amparans. When the book starts, he’s haunted by the abuse of his past and driven for revenge. The Amparans have treated the Shidadi tribe cruelly, and their hegemony over the land has caused rebel groups to come up – such as the one that recruits Zivah and Dineas. It takes extreme courage for them to step up to the challenge of spying in the Amparan empire.
It’s just the two of us this time: the rosemarked healer and the soldier with no fear of her disease. Together somehow, we are to steal Ampara’s secrets.
While Zivah treats the people marked with the rose plague, Dineas goes through forced amnesia and joins the ranks of Arxa’s army. This creates an almost separate person out of him, as he goes in and out of amnesia. It makes the romance a bit more complicated, for sure, but also creates conflicts in his character and story. Dineas finds himself making good friends with the other soldiers in the army – will there be a day where he can’t come back to his memories?
The slow and subtle romance in this book was exactly how I like it. There’s no love triangle or too much drama, but there’s a good touch of angst that keeps readers on their toes. I really love Zivah and Dineas as characters and they work well together in their respective fields. *sighs* Definitely a ship that I’m onboard with, and one that I can’t wait to see more developments form.
Rosemarked may have been slow at times, plot-wise, but the characters were phenomenal to read about. I really enjoyed seeing their progressions and how each obstacle further shaped their actions and determination. Readers will find themselves drawn to the world and the deadly rose plague that either kills its victims or leaves them marked for life. This is a YA fantasy that I wish more people knew about, and one that I would recommend to readers looking for a stray from the hundreds of hyped up books out there. It’s one of those quiet ones that just sneaks up to you with how good it is.
Rating: 4 out of 5
Thank you Netgalley and Disney-Hyperion, and Hachette Australia for the review copy!
Rosemarked is available in Australian bookstores for $32.99 RRP and American bookstores for $17.99 USD.