Night’s Rose is one heck of a book. Fortunately, I mean that in a generally good way – the main character is definitely chock-full of personality, and there are plot twists galore. As a fan of the original, gorier fairy tales, this version of the events after Sleeping Beauty awakens appealed to me immensely. However, like so many of the books I’ve read lately, the wonderful premise of the book is terribly hampered by the page count. The result is a rushed, but still fascinatingly written tale of a woman’s attempt to piece her life back together after the fairy tale ends.
Rosemarie Edenberg is Sleeping Beauty. However, unlike the prettified Disney version, she was never saved by her Prince Charming, and she was never given the chance to live happily ever after. During her enchantment, she was raped by an ogre and gave birth to twins, thereby waking up twenty years before her hundred-year spell was up. Because the spell was not allowed to come to completion, her family and kingdom were destroyed. She makes a contract with the Fey de la Nuit to slay the ogres that still terrorize the earth, taking revenge on those who ruined her life.
Now in 18th century England, she has worked almost one hundred years fighting the ogres. Known as the scourge, Rosemarie has finally become so good at her job that the ogre tribe gathers in an effort to kill her. She barely escapes their first attempt, but realizes that ogres are too stupid to assemble themselves; it is imperative she attack the true mastermind behind their evil plot. With the help of her two allies, her Fey adviser Ambrose, and Gareth, her vampire apprentice, she must fight back before the next full moon, when the ogres will be able to attack her again. The difficulty of this mission is exacerbated tenfold by the unhappy reappearance of a dire Fey prophecy made centuries ago. In order to defeat the ogres, Rose must confront her past and discover the truth behind her enchanted nightmare.
Rose herself is well-fleshed, and I really liked her. She is a true warrior, but she doesn’t let it eat away at her humanity – she longs for friendship and lasting relationships. As she clings to her friendship with her sprite friend Marta in the face of catastrophe, I could only shake my fist at the idiots who don’t recognize what a wonderful friend she’d be. I really felt for her throughout the story; she’s good at what she does, but it’s only a job to her. She misses her family and the life she should have led, and desperately wishes she could have a peaceful existence. Discovering the truth about her curse and her family’s twisted history almost destroys her, but she is courageous in her efforts to rise from her tragedy.
Ambrose and Gareth were interesting, but generally lacked emotional depth. I blamed this completely on the fact that the book was just too short. There were nice scenes that I kept wishing were longer, just so I could get a grasp on these two men. Ambrose was a truly tortured man, and some questions about his actions were never answered. He’s guarded over Rose for a long time, loving her from a distance, and he’s so complicated that can I only hope he’ll continue to have a large presence in the next book. Gareth was more ordinary and straightforward – and less interesting to me. I actually found him a little sleazy rather than charming, and felt like he was just a foil with no real personality brought in by the author to provide whatever emotion Rose needed to play off of. When he declared his affection for Rose, I was suspicious until the end, expecting it to blow up in Rose’s face.
The plot of the story is epic. I mean, seriously epic. I imagine that the author wrote this story to the sound of a power ballad playing in the background. So much was crammed into these 368 pages that I was left completely winded at the end. This should have been as long as a Jacqueline Carey or an Anne Bishop fantasy. There is so much interesting character development and folklore that is glossed over because of the length. The tight page count also does not lend any room for angst to develop; many revelations are rapid-fire and not as mind-boggling as they could have been. Often I felt that the puzzle pieces were coming together simply because time was up. The romance is also affected by this; I felt like I was forced into reading it and championing it. There’s a lot of lust blowing around, but I didn’t see a chance for real love to develop. Poor Rose is so happy to have forged a connection with another person that she becomes rather lovesick for my taste. It’s a little obvious that somewhere along her journey Rose will flip-flop between Ambrose and Gareth. As hinted by the end, there’s no way she’ll be able to keep to one attractive man, and a complicated love triangle seems to be in her future.
Okay, so my main problem with the book hinges on its extreme pace. It affects the romance, the character development, and my final issue: the flow of the plot. The first half of the book is all right, but somewhere in the middle there is an explosion of discovery and a general descent into chaos that remains till the end of the story. The curse of Sleeping Beauty rears its ugly head, and we find that Rose’s curse is only the tip of the iceberg; there is an even bigger, direr prophecy at work – as if there isn’t enough going on already. From there on, the story becomes convoluted with the original ogre confrontation, the appearance of half-vampires, half-fairies, long-lost relatives, the Seelie court, the Fey de la Nuit, more discovery of Rose’s past, as well as the bordering-on-maudlin love story. It’s everything except the kitchen sink. Again, if this book were longer, I wouldn’t feel so cheated out of what seems like half of an extremely interesting story.
Regardless of all this, I truly liked Rose and her story. I feel so strongly about the issues I had with the book because the good parts were just so good. I enjoyed the author’s style very much, and she does a beautiful job weaving in and out of dreams and memories. She begins the tale in the middle of the story timeline instead of force-feeding the reader a detailed outline of all the facts we must be informed of. We begin unaware of Rose’s situation, and it is only through conversations and flashbacks do we figure out what exactly happened to Sleeping Beauty. I could have read an entire book about Rose finding her way in her new life. In fact, Rose’s character was so interesting that the men were essentially inconsequential to me. Yes, you read that correctly!
It is my hope that the rest of the series will continue to expand on Rose’s fantastic world. I am so glad that Night’s Rose is only the beginning.