There is a popular phrase that has been used since at least the mid-19th century which is, simply, ‘don’t judge a book by its cover.’
Clearly the originator of this idiom never met a superficial reader such as myself…
While I understand the ‘judging a book by its cover’ is usually meant for not forming opinions on someone purely based on what is one the surface, I can wholeheartedly admit I picked up Rosemarked (Rosemarked #1) by Livia Blackburne with the expectation that it was going to be attention grabbing solely based on its stunning cover.
Interested to see whether Rosemarked was just as breathtaking on the outside as it was on the inside? Keep on reading to find out my thoughts and opinions.
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Rosemarked (Rosemarked #1) by Livia Blackburne
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion (November 7, 2017)
Print Length: 390 pages
Audiobook Length: 11 hrs and 19 mins
Narrator: Angela Lin, Vikas Adam
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.
Rosemarked (Rosemaked #1) by Livia Blackburne is a unique addition to the genre of YA fantasy, generally brimming with fantastical elements, because the only fanciful force is that of a fictitious disease.
Rosemarked is the fantastical tale of Zivah, the healer, and Dineas, the warrior, as they are thrust together to enact a plan to steal secrets from an empire determined to undermine its conquered people.
In the world that Blackburne created, the rose plague can affect people in three ways. First, it can just outright kill the victim. Second, the inflicted beat the fever, but are left rosemarked. Those unlucky to be rosemarked are left with rose coloured spots on their body, which let the inflicted and the healthy know that although they beat the plague initially, the survivor must be quarantined as the disease has not left them completely, and will take their life in an undisclosed amount of time. The third option leaves the survivor umbertouched. Much like rosemarked survivors, the umbertouched are left with brown coloured spots on their bodies, but they are no longer contagious and can reenter the society. This idea is quite sizable one to explain and execute in a 390 page book, which lead to me switching to audiobook form in order to make the sluggish pacing a little more enjoyable.
Just as the plot of the novel is unique to the genre in which it was released, so too are the characters in Rosemarked. The novel is presented in the form of two PoVs: Zivah, a Dara healer afflicted by the rose plague, and Dineas, a warrior of a nomadic tribe, hellbent on doing anything he can to see Ampara fall. Of course, as with any YA fanasy novel, the reader is instantly made aware that these enemies are going to develop romantic feelings for one another, and yet, it is done so in a rather atypical way. While I don’t want to spoil anything, as I rather enjoyed seeing the romance unfold, I will say that if you do not like the slow burn, I don’t think you’ll be on the Zivah/Dineas ship. Romance aside, I enjoyed how each of the PoVs were able to be enjoyable characters separate from one another. Zivah gives the reader insight into the medicinal side of Ampara, as she is the youngest healer in her village. She is creative, experimental, and smart individual, who can see both her strength and weakness, and how they will impact her relationship with Dineas, her friend Mehtap, and the other secondary characters in the plot. Dineas is similar to Zivah in that he is brave, loyal, and strong willed, and I rather enjoyed that he wasn’t the typical male protagonist. He suffers with PTSD through out much of the novel, but doesn’t come to accept it by the end of the novel, which is rather rare for the ‘selfless’ hero.
Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.
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And those are my thoughts on Rosemarked (Rosemarked #1) by Livia Blackburne. Have any YA fantasy recommendations? Leave your recommendation below and help my TBR grow.