Rosemarked (Rosemarked #1), by Livia Blackburne
Publish Date: September 7, 2017
Published by: Disney Hyperion
Genre: YA Fantasy
My Rating: ★★★★★ (5 out of 5 stars)
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 book pulled me in from the start. I don’t know what it was about it – the writing style, the characters, the world-building – but I fell in love with it almost immediately. There was just something about it that had me constantly engaged and wanting more. With beautiful world-building and characters that shine off the page, Livia Blackburne has made me an immediate fan of this book.
To start, the world-building is soft but excellent. There is no info-dumping or any boring descriptions like that. Everything just flows naturally onto the page, giving life to both the cultures and societies that thrive in this world as well as the plights and history that both build and tarnish it. There seems to be some homage to the Roman empire, but with this world having so much of its own natural history and culture it is but that- an homage. The differences between the Amparans and the Shidadi and the people of Dara are significant but also show overlap and understanding. This book is beautiful in the way it pulls these different cultures together and shows compassion between them, but also how some ideals and prejudices cannot always be overcome so easily.
The plot is both intriguing and fascinating, with so many mysteries to uncover and twists and turns that add so much scope to the story as a whole. From the rose plague to the inflitration of the Amparan army, there is so much going on but it all flows so well and keeps the reader interested and engaged throughout. It’s hopeful and painful, slow at times and faster at others, but always constantly moving and adding depth and color to the story and making for such a captivating read.
I really enjoyed the characters a lot. From the start I loved Zivah. Her quiet strength and compassion pulls her throughout the story, and her character development is slight but significant. Dineas, on the other hand, was sharp like a knife and while easy to understand, definitely allowed his anger towards the Amparans take over most of his personality. His character development was a little more difficult and didn’t feel quite as complete, mostly because such a large chunk of time he had no memory of his past and his mission, but seeing that personality contrasted with his true one made for such an interesting character conflict overall. And it played such a big part in his relationship growth with Zivah, which is difficult and confusing and heartbreaking, because I wanted so badly to root for them romantically, but at the same time I knew it couldn’t be that way. Not entirely. Honestly, this is one of the most unique character relationships I’ve seen written because of how one of the characters almost becomes two separate ones with how his memory is taken away for significant amounts of time, allowing a new person to grow in that time without the burdens of his old life.
This book took me by the hand and pulled me into a world of memory-stealing poisons, rebellion, plague, and an empire bent on subjugation. It showed the many shades of morals that all people have, both those believed to be good and those believed to be evil. The world-building brings this story to light, and the characters bring it to life. There is conflict and romance, hope and fear, pain and understanding. It’s a story that captivates from the start and keeps the reader going until the very end. I cannot wait to start reading the next book in the series.
Beat the Backlist 2018 | Books Completed Toward Goal: 39/20