The YA Fantasy I’ve Been Waiting For: Rosemarked by Livia Blackburne

The YA Fantasy I’ve Been Waiting For: Rosemarked by Livia BlackburneRosemarked (Rosemarked #1)
by Livia Blackburne
Release Date: November 7th 2017
Published by Disney-Hyperion
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, YA
Format: eARC
Pages: 400
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four-half-stars
Source: ARC received for review purposes

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.

This smart, sweeping fantasy with a political edge and a slow-burning romance will capture fans of The Lumatere Chronicles and An Ember in the Ashes.

ARC received for review purposes in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.


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I’ve been craving a sweeping YA fantasy story since the beginning of the year, and sadly before I read Rosemarked, I could not find it. Then came this brilliant book, which completely swept me off my feet and took me on an amazing journey. Engrossing stories like this are why I simply adore reading. By the end of Rosemarked, I was desperate for the sequel – I mean, isn’t that just a sign as to how amazing this book was?

In YA fantasy, I’ve always loved side-characters that are healers. It’s such an intriguing element, especially with the mirroring of reality, but healers are hardly ever the center of a fantasy series, so it was refreshing to see that here in Rosemarked. There’s a lot of rich history, world-building and politics in this book. The author does a stunning job at making her world come to life here with her prose. I sometimes find YA fantasy tedious to read because it can get very entangled quickly, but here everything flows smoothly, and I was able to pick up every detail. Then, there’s the plague itself, the rose plague, which is at the center of this story, and which felt a lot like a character. I thought it was absolutely terrifying, yet intriguing. There was lots to learn about this plague, and I liked how Livia Blackburne, only slowly revealed to us its true extent and secrets.

Of course, a YA fantasy can’t be a top read without a well-developed cast. In Rosemarked, we get the points of view of two lovable characters, Zivah and Dineas. As you can probably tell, I loved these two. Zivah with her huge heart, her generosity and her utmost love for her family and village stole my heart. She was a character who was incredibly easy to connect with. It broke my heart watching her go through the plague, and then having to upend her life to go serve the sick people of a neighboring city. What was empowering about Zivah was how she was muttered not a word of complaint as she went through hell and more. She has a secret weapon, her skills in making potions, that wield incredible power. We see immense growth in her character, and I’m excited to watch her grow into an even more powerful young woman.

Dineas was also a fantastic character here. This fighter’s abuse-riddled past just about shattered me, and I was incredibly nervous for his well-being as he volunteered to infiltrate the Army to spy on the secret-riddled Amparan empire. He does so with the help of Zivah’s potions that pushes him into an amnesiac state. His point of view was especially interesting to me because we essentially see two versions of him, the soldier with amnesia, and the real Dineas. It was fascinating, but simultaneously nerve-wracking that he had to put himself in this position. He did accept the position willingly, but it was still daunting, and emotionally-draining. As the spy, he was more flirty and charming. As the real Dineas, he was tougher and more guarded with his emotions. A subtle romance develops between the two, as they find comfort  and companionship with each other in this otherwise harsh circumstance. As you can imagine, it has some of its complications, but it was still a satisfying romance.

You can probably tell that I loved pretty much every aspect of Rosemarked. The only thing I don’t like is that I now have to wait for the sequel to be out, but if that will be anything like Rosemarked, then it will be worth the wait.

What are some of your favorite YA fantasy novels?
Let me know in the comments below!

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Nick
  • *sighs* OK, I have added this to my TBR, Nick. I love healers too, and to have them be the center of a story sounds amazing! Plus, it’s been a while since I read a YA fantasy that swept me off my feet!
    Lexxie @ (un)Conventional Bookviews

    • I hope you enjoy it when you read it, Lexxie. I haven’t been feeling a lot of the newer YA fantasies, but this was really good.

  • kindlemom1

    Alright if you loved this then I need to read it as well. Have you read Everless yet (releases next year)? It was pretty darn good as well and I really liked it and wasn’t expecting to honestly. Try that one as well I think you might enjoy it too.

    • YES! You must! And I haven’t! I’ll be sure to get it then.

  • Spies, action, great characters..this sounds splendid! Great review Nick!

  • I need this one. I haven’t read a good YA in so long it seems. I read another brilliant review for this recently and then I forgot about it. It is on my library hold list.

    • Same! I’ve been slowly moving away from YA, but this was a nice surprise.

  • I’ve heard such good things about Rosemarked. I’m so glad you enjoyed it. I haven’t been into YA fantasy lately, but I’m sure I will again.

    • Thanks, Quinn.

  • I love when a book makes me feel like I can’t wait for the sequel! This book sounds pretty amazing. You are right! Healers are not a common main character. I did read one other book recently with a healer as the mc, but it was not YA fantasy. City of Brass was adult fantasy, but still very good. Anyways, great review!

    • I know. I both hate and love it! I’m reading City of Brass atm and really enjoying it!

  • Yaaayy! We discussed this, but I really liked the intro to this series as well! 🙂 Zivah and Dineas had such complex experiences and I loved how they fought to come to an understanding. My poor Dineas, I hope he’s okay in book 2.

    • HE BETTER BE!

  • Kate S.

    I am so glad you loved it! I am reading this over the holidays and I’ve seen pretty much only good things about it!

    Kate @ Ex Libris

    • Thanks, Kate. I hope you like it too!

  • I just read Aila’s review on this one and it sounds absolutely amazing! I love the sound of the rose plague and the development between Zivah and Dineas. Lovely review Nick! (HI I have missed your blog!)

    • Aila has good tastes! 😉 I hope you give it a try!

  • Wow – you’ve convinced me that I need to read this one. It sounds amazing! Zivah and Dineas sound exactly like the type of characters that I love and a sweeping YA fantasy is just my type of read!

    Lovely review. Added to my TBR

    • You would love this one, Di!

  • sarabara081 @ Forever 17 Books

    This makes me excited! I had this on my tbr but it wasn’t something I was dying to get my hands on, until now!

    • Oooh give it a try! This is right up your alley.

  • I only found out what this book was about today and considering I keep seeing folks talking about it I’m a little embarrassed. I read the summary and I just know it’s one I’ll enjoy. I’ve hard it’s going to be a duology as well and I love that because there’s just something more manageable about committing to a two book series than a three.

    • Yes, this is certainly a book you’d like. And I feel the same way about duologies!