Thursday, November 21, 2013
by Holly Webb
Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, 2013
Audience: Grades 3 to 6
Reviewed from NetGalley
Publication Date: September 3, 2013
Rose is your typical orphan living in a Victorian era orphanage. She is not found by her long-lost mother, nor is that her dream. Rather, she dreams of being selected as a housemaid and earning a living, and that is exactly what happens when Miss Bridges comes to the orphanage and hires her to work at the home of famed alchemist, Mr. Fountain. Once there, Rose discovers that the house is full of magic, although the other servants don't see it. Rose starts to understand that she herself possesses magical abilities and she tries to use them for good when she discovers that her best friend Maisie has been taken from the orphanage. Someone is stealing children, and Rose-together with the magical apprentice Freddie, spoiled Isabella, and charming cat Gus-decides to stop them. Discreetly magical and quite fun, Rose will hopefully find an audience in America.
Another excellent book wasting away on my Kindle! I saw a review of Rose on SLJ, more specifically on A Fuse #8 Production. Betsy Bird's glowing endorsement of this book put this at the top of my list, and actually bumped what I was currently reading.
I like Rose as the plucky heroine that is not set on unattainable dreams. She knows that a long-lost mother is not coming for her, and she doesn't dream of being royalty. Rather she makes herself useful and wants to live a simple life earning a living. Wow, I need to learn that lesson too! The supporting characters are also strong. Freddie is not quite as talented as he would like, but after a while he can appreciate that Rose is talented and he advocates for her education. Mr. Fountain is an intriguing character since he's not present in most of the book, but when he is around, he feels much more kind-hearted than a typical Victorian era character.
The plot felt a little rushed toward the end. The reader doesn't get involved in the kidnapping plot for quite a while and then it rushes toward a conclusion. There is a lot of foundation work in this book because it is a series. And actually it's a series that inspires another series. Holly Webb wrote the Rose series, then wrote the related Lily series. It's easy to forgive the busy feel of this first book because you know there is more to come.
Since this is an American reissue of a British books, the following books in the series may be easier to come by in the following months. You can buy the British editions on Amazon used, but that can be a gamble. If you absolutely love Rose and can't wait, that's your best option, but if you have some other books to read before you continue with Rose, I'd recommend wait to see if the next books will be released too.
One thing is sure, Rose is a quick, fun book that is sure to engage readers.