Sunday, January 26, 2014

Review: The Rose Throne by Mette Ivie Harrison

The Rose Throne
by Mette Ivie Harrison

Available as: hardcover, Kindle edition, ebook
Pages: 400
Publisher: EgmontUSA
Publication date: May 14, 2013
Suggested tags: young adult, fantasy, romance

First in The Rose Throne series. From Goodreads:
"Richly-imagined fantasy romance from the author of Princess and the Hound, a tale of two princesses--one with magic, one with none--who dare seek love in a world where real choice can never be theirs. For fans of Megan Whalen Turner, Catherine Fisher, and Cassandra Clare.

Ailsbet loves nothing more than music; tall and red-haired, she's impatient with the artifice and ceremony of her father's court. Marissa adores the world of her island home and feels she has much to offer when she finally inherits the throne from her wise, good-tempered father. The trouble is that neither princess has the power--or the magic--to rule alone, and if the kingdoms can be united, which princess will end up ruling the joint land? For both, the only goal would seem to be a strategic marriage to a man who can bring his own brand of power to the throne. But will either girl be able to marry for love? And can either of these two princesses, rivals though they have never met, afford to let the other live?"

{ I received this as an ebook ARC from NetGalley. }

I was honestly expecting a lot from that synopsis, so perhaps I set my sights too high, but The Rose Throne did not deliver for me. That synopsis sounds like the story will be full of struggle, desperation, and passion, but I didn't feel any of that as I read. The characters never really seem to struggle so much as just go with the flow, the romance is bland and forced, and even the fact that the kingdoms are in jeopardy and the girls are supposed to be rivals is brushed over and muted.

There are some good things going on in The Rose Throne. The idea of two kinds of magic being thrust out of balance was interesting; the idea that one could have the wrong kind of magic and be seen as a dangerous abomination was great. I would have loved for these aspects to be handled with a bit more... I don't know... dedication? I was really into this aspect of the story and just wanted more from it. Perhaps more explanation of the magic system in general (which I think I'm still a bit confused about) or a deeper exploration of the consequences of a character being revealed as having no magic or the wrong kind of magic.

The romance was just blah. It was as if Harrison knew she needed romance in the story to incorporate the "marrying for love" theme mentioned in the synopsis, but she didn't really want to focus on it, so she just thrust a few characters together and wrote the obligatory "falling in love" scenes and moved on. I never felt the romance between any of the characters that were set up together.

The writing style also was a bit off for my tastes. The dialogue was awkward at times, and the narration often left me wanting more. Perhaps Harrison was trying to channel Tudor England which this world (or at least some of the characters) seems to be based on by writing in the style she did, but I just found some of the phrases and comparisons to be very odd. For example:
The words tasted like large, whole eggs in her mouth. She was afraid of cracking them and spilling the yolk down the sides of her face.
I also found it hard to get into the characters' heads, because there were not enough details for me to work with. And that is really frustrating for me, because I liked to get invested in characters and their thoughts and motives, and I like to feel something when they encounter difficulties. In The Rose Throne, I had a hard time caring about the characters because their situations tended to just get glossed over. I was really thrown off when a character died, and there was little reaction from Ailsbet before moving on to her next thought.

The end, unfortunately was also quite unsatisfying. (SPOILER - highlight to read: Essentially, Ailsbet and Issa just run away from their problems. The kingdoms they had been so invested in for most of the book apparently were not that important to them.) I realize this is the start of a series and perhaps the final actions of the characters will be better explained in the next book, but honestly, I don't think I'll be continuing the series. I'm sorry to say The Rose Throne left me rather indifferent to what will happen to this world and the characters in it.

Overall rating: 2 out of 5 stars

More about Mette Ivie Harrison }

Mette Ivie Harrison's website
Mette Ivie Harrison's Goodreads profile
Follow Mette Ivie Harrison on Twitter

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