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See The World Through Rose-Colored Splotches

Livia Blackburne’s Rosemarked is a science fiction novel that reads like a historical fantasy.

See The World Through Rose-Colored Splotches

BOOK REPORT for Rosemarked (Rosemarked #1) by Livia Blackburne

Cover Story: Watercolor
BFF Charm: Yay and Confused
Swoonworthy Scale: 5
Talky Talk: Historical Fantasy Science Fiction Science Fantasy
Factor: Series Starter
Relationship Status: Friends … For Now

Cover Story: Watercolor

This cover is very pretty, and the watercolor was an inspired choice for art, given that the disease in the book leaves rose-colored discolorations on people’s bodies. But the formal title treatment throws me off, especially with the handwritten, casual nature of the rest of the text. I might have gone with a softer, more flowing font. But that’s just me being pedantic.

The Deal:

Since she was very young, Zivah has wanted nothing more than to become a healer and help her people. Soon after she achieves the official title, however, a group of soldiers from the occupying Amparan Empire in her village take ill with the dreaded rose plague. Zivah thinks she’s taken all the proper precautions while tending to her patients, but she comes down with the illness anyway. She survives, but isn’t one of the lucky few who come out the other side both cured of and immune to the disease. Instead, she’s Rosemarked, and thus becomes a pariah, forced to live alone and outside of society.

When the opportunity to travel to a Rosemarked compound and actually practice her healing skills comes up, Zivah is excited, but hesitant—especially when she learns of the other, much less benevolent opportunity traveling to the city of her people’s oppressors brings.

BFF Charm: Yay and Confused

Rose plague be damned, Zivah’s a kickass young woman with a heart of solid gold. She’s passionate about the healing arts, and educating herself on the best ways to make her people better. And even after her dire prognosis—the Rosemarked are doomed to eventually succumb to the illness, but the timetable is different for each individual—she works tirelessly, even experimenting on herself, to find a cure. I’d love to be her friend. But I might have to avoid hugs.

Zivah travels to the heart of the Amparan Empire with Dineas, a warrior of the rebellion against the empire’s rule. Dineas is a stubborn, hard-hearted young man, thanks to his years of tough living and being constantly on the run/under the threat of death. During their time in the city, readers get a glimpse at the man Dineas could have been had he led a different life, but that’s not really the true him. And because of these two very different sides of his personality, it’s hard to really decide whether or not I’d like to be his friend.

Swoonworthy Scale: 5

Zivah and Dineas have chemistry, there’s no denying that. But the situation they find themselves in is—no spoilers—a super unusual one, and it makes it hard for the swoon to fully engage.

Talky Talk: Historical Fantasy Science Fiction Science Fantasy

Rosemarked reads like a historical fiction novel, only it’s set in a totally different world. Aside from that fact, the fantastical elements are few; the “magic” in the book is actually science. Blackburne has a background in neuroscience, so I feel more secure in the fact that the science is actually possible, too. In that sense, the book was almost more science fiction than fantasy … but I’ve always struggled with making that distinction with books that walk the line.

There wasn’t much in the way of worldbuilding in Rosemarked, but the story didn’t suffer too much from it. Having read a lot of fantasies in which empires take over people with fewer military resources and some of those people decide to fight back, it wasn’t hard to get a grasp of what was happening in the book. Additionally, Blackburne’s characters were engaging, but not totally enthralling. I would have liked a little more from both the worldbuilding and characters’ personalities.

Factor: Series Starter

I don’t know how many additional books are planned for this series, but I do know that there’s a second slated to come out at some point next year. Which is good, because I would like to have some resolution to Zivah and Dineas’ story. Rosemarked didn’t end on a cliffhanger, but it’s certainly not finished.

Relationship Status: Friends … For Now

I enjoyed our date, Book. You’re interesting and charming, but I didn’t quite feel a spark. There’s room for improvement, though, so I’m totally game to meet up again and see what happens.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Disney-Hyperion, but got neither a private dance party with Tom Hiddleston nor money in exchange for this review. Rosemarked will be available Nov. 7.

Mandy Curtis's photo About the Author: Mandy is a small town girl living in a nerdy world, or—if you want to get literal—an editor/writer living in Austin, TX. In addition to yearning for YA books—the more dystopian or fantastical, the better—she can also be found swooning over superheroes, dreaming of The Doctor and grinning at GIFs.
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