I’m so excited to be doing an incredibly special post about Roseblood by AG Howard!
And you should be excited too because I have a Q&A with the amazing master wordsmith AG Howard herself. And there’s an international giveaway at the end. BLESS THIS UNIVERSE.
Roseblood is like one of my #1 anticipated books of the year because (A) I’ve always been obsessed with the Phantom of the Opera, (B) and I mean I had a stage of my childhood where all I did was bash out the theme song on the piano most horrendously, and (C) I’ve also got a soft spot for ghostlike morally grey grapes like the Phantom, and (D) AG Howard’s books always impress and I’m a huge fan of her Splintered Alice in Wonderland retellings too. #BeStillMyBeatingHeart
Are we ready?? ARE YOU SINGING PHANTOM OF THE OPERA IN YOUR HEAD RIGHT NOW? (Because you better.) LET US FLAIL, ANGELS OF MUSIC.
(Also this cover, amirite?!? It’s too gorgeous.)
In this modern day spin on 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 her, 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 and a soul-deep romance blossoms, Thorn’s dark agenda comes to light and 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.
- IT IS CREEPILY BRILLIANT. As all gothic retellings should be. The actual aesthetics of this book just make my soul give a happy sigh. Dead gardens and bleeding roses and violins and ancient theatre masks and DOOM with a sidedish of psychotic Phantoms. And it’s set in a boarding school inside a very old opera house and if that’s not aesthetically pleasing THEN I DON’T KNOW WHAT IS.
- IT HAS A SORT OF SEQUEL VIBE. It’s set in modern times (in Paris #blessthisbook) and follows Rune who is a super amazing opera singer — basically because she’s magically possessed and controlled by music. It ruins her life. So you’d think the Phantom would be dead? BUT NO. HA HA HA. In fact the Phantom has adopted a son (Thorn who is a magical violinist) which is just about the best plot twist I’ve ever heard of. IT’S LIKE AN APPRENTICE MANIAC PHANTOM.
- IT’S DUAL POV! And it does it in my favourite way, with having Rune in 1st person and Thorn in 3rd. SO BASICALLY AG HOWARD WROTE IT WITH ME IN MIND. #ActualTruth
- There is much music! I actually love books about music and can’t find many of them. So here we have Rune + singing. And Thorn + magical violining. AND THEY COMPLETE EACH OTHER. I’ll mention here that their ship name is Rune + Thorn = Tune. Also Thorn played music inside Rune’s head. Because why not. All the cool kids are using dreams for communication. Out of the way iPhone 6. We gotcha creepy brain possession.
- I EMPHATICALLY LIKE THE CREEPY. It even reminded me of This Savage Song with the themes of monsters and mayhem. Also Rune was 5000% aware how creepy it was and I loved her comments about “help me I’m in a horror movie”. Very meta. Very nice.
- And the writing is gorgeous. It has AG Howard’s trademark luscious prose and descriptions, although sometimes it was a wee bit too much and I would’ve preferred it to be more fast-paced and been IN the story more, instead of being TOLD the story quite so much. But that’s just me whinging a little in the background and considering I am entirely obsessed with this book still? It didn’t affect my enjoyment.
- If you want an emotional and slightly manic retelling of the Phantom of the Opera: here it is. It calls to you, it sings to you, angel of music. I spent the entire ending freaking out over our morally grey Phantom and the starcrossed lovers of Rune and Thorn and wondering if EVERYONE WAS GOING TO BURN AND DIE. And a good book is one that is slightly stressful and entirely beautiful.
A.G. Howard is the International and NYT bestselling author of the Splintered Series, with a slew of other classical spinoffs and original stories in the works that she hopes will one day find a place on the shelves.
She was inspired to write her tribute to Carroll’s Wonderland while working at a school library. Her pastimes are reading, rollerblading, gardening, and family vacations which often include impromptu side trips to 18th century graveyards or condemned schoolhouses to appease her overactive muse.
SPLINTERED, UNHINGED, ENSNARED, and UNTAMED, the first four books in her urbanized /gothic Alice in Wonderland series, are now available from Amulet Books. Also soon to be available from Amulet is her Phantom of the Opera spinoff, ROSEBLOOD — slated to launch January 2017.
THE ARCHITECT OF SONG, the first book in her New Adult historical literary romance saga, will be available in August 2016.
HOW LONG DID IT TAKE ROSEBLOOD TO GO FROM FIRST IDEA TO FINISHED NOVEL?
A.G. HOWARD: Hmmm. That’s an interesting question, because I actually contemplated a Phantom retelling even before I wrote Splintered. I’d seen other adaptations of The Phantom of the Opera — and one prequel that I adore (Phantom by Susan Kay) — but not many spinoffs or continuations. Like I did with Splintered, I knew I wanted to make it modern and contemporary to set it apart, while still retaining the elements of the original (gothic in this case). All I needed was a way to explain the Phantom’s longevity…how he had survived so many years. While I was trying to figure that out, the AiW idea came to me, and I opted to write it first. After it was so well received, it gave me the confidence to tackle the Phantom’s spinoff possibilities. So if I’m counting from the actual idea phase, it took 7 years for my story to make it onto paper. However, it actually took me a little over 7 months to research and write it once I finally began.
EVERYONE HAS SUCH BEAUTIFUL AND UNIQUE NAMES IN ROSEBLOOD! DO YOU HAVE A PROCESS FOR PICKING OR FINDING CHARACTER NAMES?
A.G. HOWARD: Thanks! Often, when I start a story, my names don’t always have a meaning. I just know my characters—who they are, the role they’ll play, even a head shot of what they look like—and I hop onto Internet databases and skim through baby names. The right ones will simply jump out at me. Hard to explain, but my gut knows what name is right. However, in RoseBlood, there were two names that I chose before I even knew anything about the characters other than that they would be the main POVs. I wanted the male POV’s name to be Thorn, in keeping with the rose theme/symbolism that’s prevalent throughout the book. As for the female POV’s name, I chose the word “Rune” because its definition parallels the book’s magical, otherworldly subplots: a prayer, poem, or a saying with mystical meaning or for use in casting a spell. Her surname, Germain, was also chose specifically to play a role in the mystical elements. If you surf the net for “Comte Sainte-Germain”, you’ll turn up fascinating rumors from the 1700’s of a man suspected of being immortal and having great talents and intellect, along with a knack for alchemy and black magic. I wanted Rune to be related to him, so his surname became hers.
CLEARLY YOUR GOTHIC RETELLINGS ARE ABSOLUTELY THE BEST THINGS TO GRACE OUR SHELVES. ARE THERE OTHER TALES YOU THINK WOULD MAKE EXCELLENT GOTHIC RETELLINGS?!
A.G. HOWARD: You’re so kind to say that! Thank you. 🙂 There are so many! Here are just a handful off the top of my head (fairytales and classics both) that I would consider expanding/reworking: Beauty and the Beast, Sleeping Beauty, Rapunzel (although it would be hard to beat Disney’s Tangled), Jekyll and Hyde, A Midsummer’s Night Dream, and Dracula.
THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR STOPPING BY, ANITA!
- OPEN INTERNATIONALLY!!
- 3 x mask and swag sets (donated by the author! yay!)
- 1 x Amazon ebook of Roseblood (from me because YOU ALL MUST READ IT!!)
- there’ll be 3 prizes, with 1st place getting a swag set AND the ebook, and the two subsequent winners getting a swag set each
- Also you must sing Phantom of the Opera to enter. I’ll be checking. Better believe it.