Fantasy · YA

Rosemarked – Livia Blackburne

3.5 stars

Fans of Maria V. Snyder’s Poison Study series will find a lot to love in Rosemarked. There are a lot of similarities between the two series – poison, political intrigue, tribal culture pitted against Roman-style culture – but enough different to keep Rosemarked from feeling like nothing more than a new iteration on an already used idea.

Cover from Goodreads

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.

In addition to themes of rebellion and loyalty, Rosemarked also explores identity and what makes a person. Is a person their personality, or their experiences? How do our experiences shape our personalities, our desires and our paths? It’s a complex concept to tackle, and Rosemarked handles the topic with care and thought, making for surprisingly deep moments in the book.

There’s also an admiration and acknowledgment of what quiet strength looks like. Zivah doesn’t want to take her condition lying down. She’s determined to fight to the end in the only way she knows how, and through her actions, she demonstrates what quiet strength means in the face of layers of danger and intrigue.

Rosemarked was an interesting read, but it didn’t blow me away or feel particularly groundbreaking or fresh. 3.5 stars because I liked it well enough.


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