The Enchanted Rose

The Enchanted Rose

This review is brought to you as part of the Virtual Book Tour for The Enchanted Rose, hosted by Bewitching Book Tours.

The Enchanted Rose is the debut novel of Nadia Nader and was first published in 2015. It is a modern faerie story which centres on a teenage girl’s investigations regarding ancient curse. The story is the first novel in the Misty Hills series but at the time of writing no further instalments have been announced.

Vivian’s bad luck begins with the sudden death of her mother. As her father is unable to cope with raising her alone, she is sent to live with her Aunts Agnes and Beatrice – sisters of her mother who Vivian had never been told existed – in the isolated town of Misty Hills. When she arrives, she discovers that the two women live in a mansion and rarely leave the grounds of their enormous estate.

As Vivian explores her new home, she discovers that there is something strange about it. The house and grounds are poorly kept and everyone that she speaks to warn her to stay out of the neighbouring woodland as it is very dangerous. To make matters worse, a lot of the townsfolk are deeply superstitious and seem to be keeping secrets from her, yet they are reluctant to tell Vivian just what it is that they fear.

As Vivian tries to find out more about her strange family, she quickly unearths many secrets and as she does she realises that her mother has kept her ignorant of her heritage. There is a curse on her bloodline, one that brings death and misery to the first born girl of every generation. As Vivian realises that magic is real, she begins to wonder if there is anything that she can do to save the lives of the people that she loves…

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I must admit that I did not really have any expectations of what this novel was going to be like before I began reading but within a couple of chapters I was really glad that I volunteered to be a part of this tour. As I already said, this novel is very much a modern faerie tale. A young girl is sent off to live with her reclusive Aunts and discovers a world of witchcraft, superstition, dark forests and handsome huntsmen. The story is easy to read but is still beautifully written, offering haunting Gothic descriptions of Vivian’s new home and its surroundings that were vivid enough to make me feel as though I was part of her world.

The story itself is also very intriguing. As the book is only 150 pages long, it maintained a rapid pace that kept my interest throughout. As the perspective always hovers over Vivian, the reader joins her in ignorance and so discovers the secret of Misty Hills at the same pace that she does. Beneath all of the paranormal aspects of this story is a sound mystery and, as Vivian befriends more people within the town, she gradually begins to piece together the truth about the curse on her family. Although some of the twists in the story were easy to guess, there were still many more that I did not expect. The story really did have me hooked from the beginning I was dying to find out if Vivian did have the power to dispel the curse.

However, there were still a couple of small issues in the story’s structure that did not sit well with me. First was the fact that every character in the novel was guilty of withholding vital information from Vivian for no good reason. It seemed that the entire town was familiar with her family history and the nature of their curse and yet were incredibly reluctant to share their knowledge with Vivian. My biggest problem with this was that there was no real explanation as to why. If there was some risk of the curse passing on to them if they spoke I might have accepted this but the truth was that the curse was simply “something that they did not speak about”.

For me, this is a bit weak. From the standpoint of a realist, it seemed implausible to expect Vivian (an outsider who is ignorant of their superstitions) to conform to their way of thinking without explanation. The woods are an example of this. She is told repeatedly that the forest is very dangerous but no one ever tells her what it is that makes them believe this. Weird things do happen to Vivian in the woods at one point but even after this, the danger of the forest is left unexplained. I hope that this is rectified in a future instalment.

My other problem was the ending. By now, I expect that you are all aware that my pet hate is a cliff-hanger ending. The Enchanted Rose, unfortunately, had one of the most sudden cliff-hangers that I have ever seen. It was so abrupt that it made me wonder if my copy was missing a couple of chapters – it just cuts off in the middle of a school day. This unfortunately meant that a lot of loose ends were left hanging. We never find out who the shadowy figure that Vivian sees in the grounds is. We never find out if the curse can be lifted. We never find out why most of the villagers believe that Hunter is untrustworthy. While this was effective in the sense that it makes me want to read the next story right away, it also felt kind of cheap. The novel was so good that I would have bought the next novel regardless, it did not need to emotionally blackmail me into doing so.

In terms of characterisation, the novel was very strong. Although it did fall into a couple of young adult high school clichés (such as the bitchy female bully with two giggling lackeys), most of the secondary cast showed notably different personalities and were very likable. I was particularly interested in Hunter and really want to learn more about him. I hope that this becomes a focus in future instalments.

Vivian was a wonderful female protagonist. She was very strong willed and did not allow the fear mongering of her friends and family ever put her off investigating the curse. She was also a very sympathetic character as her grief for the loss of her mother and worry about being sent to live with strangers came across very clearly in the novel. The other main character in this story – a girl named Rose – took a little longer to grow on me as I initially found her cruelty towards Vivian to be unnecessary but my view of her changed greatly by the end of the novel. Rose had a lot of secrets, and they were gradually revealed, I began to understand what motivated her to act in such a way.

As this novel is so short, I don’t have a lot more to say about this one. The Enchanted Rose is a very strong debut novel. It built atmosphere very well and weaved a mystery story that left my start to finish. It also starred a small cast that were all very well developed and incredibly memorable. My only real gripe was the cliff-hanger ending as it left a lot of loose ends hanging but please don’t let this put you off. The Enchanted Rose made me really excited to see where this story will head next and I can’t wait to read the next instalment.

The Enchanted Rose can be purchased as an eBook on Amazon.co.uk

 

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  1. Trackback: The Sobeks – Part 1 | Arkham Reviews

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