I received a copy of VEILED ROSE by Anne Elisabeth Stengl, from Bethany House. It is the second book in the Tales of Goldstone Wood series. The first book is HEARTLESS and the third book is MOONBLOOD. The end of VEILED ROSE contains an excerpt from MOONBLOOD, which sounds exciting.
VEILED ROSE is now one of my favorite fantasy novels. The pace flows along smoothly, the characters are engaging, and the dialogue is realistic. Clearly, the author had a lot of fun writing it. There are complex comparisons to Christian theology and fairy tales, but with new twists that keep them interesting. The names are unique, such as Beana and Foxbrush.
The story begins with an eleven-year-old boy, Leo, staying at a manor for the summer. He travels into the woods seeking adventure, and hopes to slay the “monster” everyone in the village fears. Instead, he meets a girl, Rose Red, who is a few years younger than him. She lives in the mountain and covers herself with veils. Together, they spend their summer exploring the woods and developing a close friendship. Rose Red keeps her secret well hidden, until the end of the book, and part of the secret came as quite a surprise. The “monster” secret was a little more obvious, but didn’t ruin the book for me. Leo also possessed a secret, as did Beana, Rose Red’s nanny goat. VEILED ROSE culminates when a Dragon attacks the kingdom. Leo sets out to kill it and Rose Red decides to protect his family in the meantime. The ending wasn’t what I had expected, but it was pleasing.
The characters are very entertaining to read about. Leo isn’t the average hero. He isn’t filled with bravery, nor does he possess dashing good looks – yet, he has a kind heart and remains steadfast in his relationship with outcast Rose Red. The fact that he isn’t “perfect” made it more enjoyable for me to read about him.
Anyone who loves fantasy, Dragons, or a refreshing new read will love this book. The cover itself is sure to catch many eyes – a Dragon clasps the image of Rose Red, hiding behind her veils.