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Roses by G. R. Mannering review

She bears no name. Her silvery appearance is freakish to the numerous inhabitants of Sago, the cosmopolitan capital of Pevorocco in a fantasy realm. With her mother vanishing at the instance of her birth, she is sent to live with the cruel, rich Ma Dane, where she is punished daily for something, though she knows not what. Tauntingly named Beauty, she flees Sago in a violent uprising that sets out to massacre all Magics and journeys to the furthest point of the country.

But Beauty cannot hide in the grassy Hillands forever. Before long, the State officials find her and threaten to take her back to war-torn Sago where death surely awaits. In a midnight blizzard she escapes them, running into a deep, enchanted forest to a great and terrible beast who will bargain for her life.

But can Beauty accept Beast? Eternity is a long time.


Before I get on with my review, I should tell you that Beauty and the Beast is my favourite Disney movie of all time (if not my favourite film ever!). I love the songs and identify with Belle, a daydreamer who’s always hankering after adventure in the great wide somewhere and has an unhealthy obsession with books…


So when I received an ARC of Roses by G. R. Mannering I was excited to find out how she would tackle her retelling of this classic fairytale.

The fantastical land of Pevorocco is full of wondrous things. There’s the high society and glittering ballrooms in the stifling heat of capital city Sago, where ladies meet to drink syrupy tea and magical beings lurk in the ghettoes under the guise of circuses. Away in the Hillands are cascading waterfalls, remote temples and the best trained horses in the land, whilst deep in the forest lies an enchanted castle, complete with mysterious unseen servants, roses that change colour according to the overall mood and its own microclimate. I really liked the ethereal setting, and the descriptions, though simply worded, made it all come alive. But it’s not all fantasy and fairytale – it’s a dangerous time, and bubbling under the surface is the threat of unrest and ethnic cleansing, when plans are announced to round up the mistrusted Magic Bloods, beings with magical powers.

With her silver hair and skin and violet eyes, Beauty is earmarked as a magical being from birth and isolated because of it. Of unknown parentage, she lives with Ma Dane but receives no love or affection and is never made to feel part of the family. You can’t help but feel sorry for her, but at the same time it’s hard to warm to her because as cowed as she is by repeated rejection, she doesn’t make an effort with people or ever try to meet them on their terms. I grew to like her more as she came to learn more about herself and the world around her. Through her growing friendship with Beast we get to see a more compassionate, less stubborn side to her.

The story is told in the third person, with a straightforward, traditional narrative tone and is very linear, starting with our main character’s birth and following her through her formative years and leading up to a pivotal point in her young life. I wasn’t sure if I liked this style of storytelling when I first started reading – I wondered if it was a little unadventurous. As I read on I did really get into it, though – it was comforting, in a way, and very easy to just sink into and read. And it made sense in the context of the ‘fairytale’ being told. But instead of a happily ever after, when I reached the end it felt like the beginning of so much more – how will Beauty deal with her knew knowledge about herself and her heritage? What will happen to the Magic Bloods and will war really break out? Roses is only G. R. Mannering’s first book, so hopefully in time we’ll find out more. In the meantime, I think it’s time to get reacquainted with my favourite singing candlestick…


Delinquent Librarian’s verdict: A classic tale retold with more than a touch of class.

Thank you to Sky Pony Press for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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  1. Great review. This book sounds really good.


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