Monday, December 12, 2011

One Black Rose by Maddy Edwards

Title: One Black Rose
Series: One Black Rose
Author: Maddy Edwards
Length: 3814 kindle units
Rating: 4 stars

The Plot

Autumn is looking forward to a summer in Maine with her best friend and away from her arguing parents. She is especially excited when she meets Holt and Samuel, the good-looking sons of the wealthiest families in town. But she can’t ignore the strange things that happen around Holt – how everyone seems to like him, how the flowers in his garden seem to come to life. And she can’t explain why Samuel is determined to keep her away from Holt, even though he barely talks to her himself. Whatever is going on, Autumn’s summer is turning out to be more eventful than she was expecting.

The Good

I got quite wrapped up in One Black Rose, and I stayed up late to finish it, rather than put it aside to finish the next day. Part of this was because I couldn’t easily flip through chapters in my Kindle version. (Yes, I read books out of order. Yes, I am aware that you probably think this is a travesty against literature. I maintain that reading is a highly personal experience, and you can do nothing about how I choose to engage in it.) But part of it was that the pacing of the story was very good. I got a little bit more information about what was going on at just the right intervals that I was constantly curious but never felt like I had to wait too long for more information.

I also appreciated Autumn’s best friend Carley. I feel like a number of books I have read lately have a set-up where the main character has a “best friend” who is either unlikable or has nothing in common with the main character. We as readers have a hard time fathoming why these two girls are friends, and we are left with an unsatisfying explanation like “we’ve been friends since kindergarten.” I know that by the time I was in high school, I was no longer close with my grade school friends with whom I had nothing in common, so I can’t imagine why I would expect a YA heroine would be any different. But Carley was a good kind of friend. She had her flaws, and her family did things differently than Autumn, but overall it made sense to me that the girls spent time together.

The Bad

Once again I find myself wondering how it is that someone can write an entire novel about a girl with no real personality traits or interests. Other than meeting boys, watching movies, and working at the coffee shop, Autumn doesn’t seem to do anything. I don’t even have a firm grasp on what she looks like, so I do wonder why all the best-looking boys in town are suddenly interested in her, and I can’t really figure out why her friends aren’t equally puzzled.

My other issue with One Black Rose is that the mythology is a little unclear. As far as I can tell, fairies are a lot like regular humans in that they age like normal people and seem to live entirely on earth and not in a fairy realm. Most of the fairies seem to have been human at one point. So other than magical powers and an association with a particular season, I’m not sure what makes a fairy a fairy.

The Romance

I was disappointed with the romance in One Black Rose, which is the main reason that it does not hit the elusive five star rating. The set-up is good, albeit not especially original. A girl comes to town and meets two boys to whom she feels a preternatural attraction, and her choice between them will have more consequences than just her happiness. The idea that she is destined for one of the boys but in love with the other is perhaps overly reminiscent of Amanda Hocking’s My Blood Approves, but we will forgive it that.

The trouble is that while Holt is likable enough, I just don’t feel that he and Autumn have the kind of love that is worth sacrificing everything for. I mean, by the end of the book, they’ve only known each other for a couple of weeks. I am also disappointed that we see so little of Samuel. What he thinks and feels is very important to the story, but we actually don’t know what is going on with him most of the time. And given that her choice has large consequences for both Autumn and the fairy world, I would think that she would want to know what he and his family want as well.

Will I read more?

At this point I’m thinking yes. One Black Rose was a quick and engaging read, and I would take the time to read more. I’m also hoping that we get more from the Winter Court’s perspective, although that could be my own bias.

Ooh, I now see that it just became available last weekend. I think I’ll go get it now…


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