Rose (Rose, book one)
By Holly Webb
Published 2013 by Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
Rose is not your typical orphan. She doesn't spend her time daydreaming of finding parents. She wants to make her own path, so she gets a job as a maid for Mr. Fountain, a famed alchemist. Rose is fascinated by the magic she discovers in his home and soon, she begins to see signs that she may have a little magic of her own.
Finally - the last of my Cybils finalists to review! It was the last one I read, as my library did not own a copy, so I had to wait for the publisher to send me one for review. Thank you!
I will fully admit that I had little to no interest in this one prior to reading; in fact, I may have even rolled my eyes when I saw it on our shortlist. As much as I love fantasy, this one seemed to be playing a little too hard into familiar tropes. However, I was delighted to discover that this book was far better than I could have imagined it to be. Rose is a very endearing character and I was completely charmed by her. I rooted so hard for her to discover her own magical potential and was enchanted as she did. One of this book's biggest strengths is in crafting a believable magical world without getting mired down in all the details. There is enough information for readers to go along for the ride but not so much that one gets tuckered out trying to keep it all straight. There are still a lot of things left unexplained, but for this book, it works.
I've seen a number of reviews objecting to the darkness of the end, but I don't think it's anymore dark than many other tween books. It works exceptionally well in this context and, ultimately, I think the book leaves you with a hopeful feeling. I was surprised to find myself so charmed by this book, but I am looking forward to picking up the rest of the series as it becomes available here in the states.