The main character of Roses came into the world orphaned and without a name; powerless. Nonetheless, with her silvery skin and intense violet eyes, the young child struck fear into all who caught a glimpse, even in the magical Western realm.
Taken to Sago and dumped upon the affluent doorstep of the brutal and suspicious Ma Dane, the silver girl does her best to be invisible, until she meets Owaine- Ma Dane’s horseman. As he nurtures her love of horses and develops a kinship with her, she begins to come into her own, despite also coming into the mockingly cruel nickname of “Beauty.”
Then chance encounter with a Magics Circus hints at a deep secret Ma Dane would do anything to keep hidden, holding Beauty’s origins at its center, but an impending war or “Magical Cleansing” throughout the Western Realm forces Beauty to flee to the Hillands with Owaine, leaving the savagery of her childhood behind.
Unfortunately, the Hillanders are frightened by the unknown in Beauty, and she is once again thrust into an environment of harsh distrust. Finding solace in her adoptive father Owaine, Beauty focuses on honing her horse-training skills, allowing her to forge an identity and earn the respect within her new community.
This newfound stability is fleeting when Owaine returns from a trip deathly ill. With tales of a curse and terrifying Beast, Beauty races into the darkness to his enchanted castle trading her life for her father’s. She becomes Beast’s prisoner, but soon learns that she is not the only one trapped by this strange castle.
Roses by Rose Mannering, the first book in the Tales Trilogy, a reimagining of the classic Beauty and the Beast fairytale, is a novel that has so much promise but comes up sadly lacking due to story-arc and pacing issues.
Manning spends three-quarters of a rather lengthy book building an incredibly detailed landscape while simultaneously not providing enough history to properly carry her many plot threads through the narrative- leaving frustrating questions and holes. However, it’s entirely possible that the missing pieces were intentional, as there are two more installments of this trilogy to come.
While the continuations may fill in the gaps, what is most discouraging is the crux of the book, the Beauty and the Beast retelling- almost reads as an afterthought. Readers will expect to experience the story in a quixotic new way, yet it only truly appears at the very end, rushed and prosaically repackaged.
Despite the disappointments, you can’t help but be taken in by Beauty’s plight and by Mannering’s vivid world-building, which is enough to have readers eagerly reaching for the second book.
Reviewer Rating: 3/5 Stars
Roses: The Tales Trilogy, Book 1 is published by Sky Pony Press and was released May 17th 2016 and is available now. To order from Amazon, click the link in the title.