Monday, May 6, 2013

Review: Veiled Rose - Anne Elisabeth Stengl

A copy was provided by the Author
in exchange for
an honest review.
Veiled Rose by Anne Elisabeth Stengl
Series: Tales of Goldstone Wood #2
Genre: YA, fantasy
Published on July 1, 2011
Published by Bethany House Publishers
Pages: 375
Read From: 4.28.13 - 5.2.13

Rose Red trusts no one with her secret. She hides in the forest, her face veiled in rags, shunning the company of all save her old father and her nanny goat. Her life is bleak and lonely. 
Until she meets a privileged young man sent to spent his summer in the mountains. Headstrong young Leo startles everyone by befriending Rose Red, and together they begin searching for the monster rumored to be stalking these lands. 
But the hunt, which began as a game, holds greater risk than either images. Soon both are forced to test their trust in each other as a far more terrifying scourge puts their entire land at risk.


Cover Blurb: Yes or No? Even though the girl looks nothing like Rose Red, I do like the cover. You really see the character  impersonator's face, and I like how her image is in a mirror, held (clearly) by the Dragon.

Characters: Rose Red is a much better protagonist than Una in Heartless. She may not be able to do much about her situation, or really help anyone else, but at least she tries, rather than playing the victimized damsel in distress. Rose Red is in distress alright, but she doesn't let it get her down. She's a fighter, and I really appreciated that, especially after reading Heartless, where Una did nothing to help herself. My opinion of Leo was divided. Half of the time I liked him, as he continued to stand by Rosie while everyone else was cruel to her. I could understand his want and need to pursue his own life, rather than simply accept the role that was laid out for him from the beginning. But then Leo had a bad tendency of just forgetting about Rosie, and that's something no true friend would do. Sure, Leo put Rosie under his personal protection and got her a job as a palace servant - which, while not the ideal position, was way better than her life on the mountain. But then he just forgets about her? For years? There's also the fact that in the end, Leo is proven a coward, and he decides to marry a girl he admits he doesn't even care about. While he seems to genuinely regret his cowardice, and he ultimately pays for what he's done, I still had difficulty liking Leo as much as I wanted to. I thought I would like Lady Daylily at first, but it didn't take me long to realize that everything she did was for her own selfish desires. She unwittingly falls in love with Leo - or so she claims, - but I never got the impression that she truly did love him. And of course, her treatment of Rosie did nothing to endear her to me. Once I found out who Beana really is, I liked her and I hope to learn more about her story in future books. And as for the Dragon . . . He's still not all that scary. He does pretty much the same thing in Veiled Rose as he did in Heartless, and it impressed me about as much as it did before: not at all.

The Romance: Daylily falls in love with Leo despite herself. Rosie's feelings of friendship with Leo grow into something more. Daylily hates Rosie because of it. Leo doesn't love Daylily, it's never made clear what his feelings for Rosie really are, and he goes and falls in love with Princess Una. None of the romances are annoying, but I never got emotionally wrapped up in any of them - partially because I already knew how they would all turn out. Heartless kind of already gave that away, sadly. I felt that Rosie genuinely loved Leo, so I felt for her, but I never got a real sense that Leo really loved Una, and Daylily just seemed to always be serving her own selfish needs.

Plot: When Leo is staying with his aunt one summer, he hears rumors of a monster in the mountains. And when he goes to hunt it, he discovers Rose Red - a lonely girl covered in rags and veils, with only the company of an ornery old goat and a man she calls father. A friendship begins, despite Rose Red's numerous secrets: her Imaginary Friend, the Dragon that haunts her dreams, and her true identity hidden by the veil. As the Dragon continues to hound Rose Red, she realizes that she must leave the mountain. But when she does, it's with disastrous consequences, not only for herself, but for Leo and all of Southland. The plot is much more clear in Veiled Rose than Heartless. It still has a bit of a meandering feel, and in many ways it's pretty much the same storyline. The Dragon is after yet another maiden that is dear to the Prince of Farthestshore. But it was easier to see where the story was going, and the characters had more purpose, though I was still left with questions. Namely, why did the Dragon want Rose Red? Was it simply because he mistakenly thought she was the Beloved of the Prince? How did Rose Red end up in the Near World in the first place? But I have confidence that these questions will be answered in Book Three, because the questions I had in Heartless were explained in Veiled Rose. In fact, Veiled Rose made a lot of things clear: why Lionheart did what he did, why the Dragon wanted Una at all, and it shed a bit more light on the roles of the Dragon and the Lady.

Believability: Not applicable.

Writing Style: Like Heartless, the writing is surprisingly beautiful, with lovely pros and descriptions. Because it's supposed to be another allegory, she tried at times to be too profound, and the allegory itself is too obvious while being vague at the same time. But the style itself is very nice.

Content: None.

Conclusion: The climax was more exciting than the one in Heartless, because Rosie actually does something, rather than waiting for someone to rescue her. She ends up having to call for help, but she still stand strong and does her best. At one point I wanted to shout at her, because here she's given a name of power and told to shout it when she's in need, and she doesn't because she thinks it's silly to believe a name will help her. Okay, her worst nightmare has come alive and she can walk Faerie Paths - and she thinks a name with power is silly? That didn't make sense. Nevertheless, her showdown with the Dragon was much better than Una's in Heartless, but after that the story gets a little boring, as it follows Leo's story. We Readers who have read Heartless already know how Leo's story ends, so it's just a recap, only from his perspective. It's interesting, and it's nice to know why he did what he did, but it's still kind of boring. From right off, I saw that Veiled Rose was better than Heartless. I'm glad I decided to have faith in this series, because it definitely improves with Book Two. Less confusing, better characters, lovely writing, and a more interesting plot.

Recommended Audience: Girl-read, any age, fans of fantasy and Christian fiction.

Others in the Tales of Goldstone Wood Series:
2)Veiled Rose

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